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Old 06-25-2002, 06:59   #1 (permalink)
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Police Car Chases

Ok this is fairly topical at the moment with the fish and chip wrappers having a fair day out on the subject.
For those of you who have been recently abducted by aliens and therefore haven't heard this is the brief story:

A number of youths in a stolen vehicle were pursued by police in Melbourne last week. The pursuit was called off after they ran a red light at a busy intersection and had reached speeds in excess of 130 km/h. Sometime later they were spotted by another police car which flashed it's warning lights at them and a short time later the people in the stolen car were involved in an accident that left a number of them dead.

The debate has centred around the issue of whether and to what degree police should pursue vehicles given the risks involved. A side issue has also raised it's head because a number of police have been killed in recent years in these type of pursuits.

To summarise the three positions being taken they are as follows:

1. The existing guidelines are sufficient as the pursuit must be authorised by a Senior officer and can be called off at any time especially if there is a risk to innocent parties (for example some poor bastard minding his own business going through a green light where the red is being run by an offender).

2. Following the statement of a senior officer in NSW that police get an adrenaline rush from the pursuit the counter view is that the guidelines probably aren't being followed terribly well (as presumably evidenced by the number and severity of these incidents over recent years) and therefore there need to be stricter guidelines.

3. The final view holds that these type of pursuits should be banned altogether as in many instances the potential end result (somebodys death) is not merited by the nature of the crime that has been committed. This view is supported to some degree by (US based) statistics that show most offenders seek to elude pursuit because they are over the Blood Alcohol limit, are unlicensed, are driving a stolen car or are worried by what their parents would say. The counterpoint to this view (as stated by a police Commissioner) is that banning pursuits would simply encourage offenders to drive away at a speed in excess of the speed limit in the knowledge that police would be unable to follow them.

It's a complex issue but one that has a potential impact on us all.

The question, from my view, comes down to one of protecting the common good, In very plain terms the questions appear to be -

1. Do we really want adrenaline charged officers (and I am sure this doesn't apply to them all) in 1700 Kg, high performance vehicles; chasing similarly adrenaline charged, frequently young and intoxicated / inexperienced people around our public streets ?

2. If we do; should this only apply to a certain range of the more serious offences where the risk might be acceptable to some degree?

3. With what guidelines ?


The floor is open ...........
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Old 06-25-2002, 07:22   #2 (permalink)
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I think the question is more how can cars be secured against theft and education of the public to stop thefts and pursuits to be stopped before they start.
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Old 06-25-2002, 07:59   #3 (permalink)
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I am not a supporter of banning pursuits alltogether but in my opinion a pursuit sparked by a traffic infringement is perhaps the wrong way to go about apprehension in those cases and not worth the risk to the public.

What I would like to see is police departments across Australia undergo a complete review of their policies, training and their institutional philosophy that governs pursuit tactics and deployment. Now I am no expert on the subject so I won't bother going into detail on what should be reviewed and implemented, but there clearly needs to be a rigid guideline for pursuits that is void of any grey areas that could be misinterpreted by an officer.

One area that I feel should be looked into is integrating more 'stop devices' like spike strips etc. into pursuits.
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Old 06-25-2002, 08:43   #4 (permalink)
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What seems to be missed is that even though it happens, pursuits are rarely just the result of a traffic infringement..usually the person is wanted on warrants, in a stolen car or has just done something bad (ie Theft).
I have been in a pursuit that started as the result of a traffic infringement .. 2 cars dragging... we chased and we lost them.. 6 months later I found out that one of the participants was wanted for murder and had abandoned his car and was waiting behind a fence with a loaded pistol waiting for us ....
Pursuits are generally started because of someone driving like an idiot and degenerate from there. What has happened recently is that pursuits have been called off but the crooks have kept on going anyway and coming to grief.
There is no easy answer .. pursuing everything to a conclusion is stupid as it will cause more fatals.. but states in the US that have had a strict No Pursuit policy have had a massive increase in the crime rate...
As for the adrenaline.. it's natures way of helping you survive.. among the negatives... it quickens your reactions...
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Old 06-25-2002, 08:49   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by RPO83
I am not a supporter of banning pursuits alltogether but in my opinion a pursuit sparked by a traffic infringement is perhaps the wrong way to go about apprehension in those cases and not worth the risk to the public.

What I would like to see is police departments across Australia undergo a complete review of their policies, training and their institutional philosophy that governs pursuit tactics and deployment. Now I am no expert on the subject so I won't bother going into detail on what should be reviewed and implemented, but there clearly needs to be a rigid guideline for pursuits that is void of any grey areas that could be misinterpreted by an officer.

One area that I feel should be looked into is integrating more 'stop devices' like spike strips etc. into pursuits.
there have been numerous reviews etc of pursuits and the one thing that ghas come from it is that like a lot of things..there is no clear cut answer. Guidelines are plenty tough as they are and there is not a lot of leeway.
NSW trialled Stop Stix ... Snr Cst Jim Affleck was run aover and killed because the crook thought it was better to run over the police officer than the stix.. Unfortunately the NSW govt stopped the trial there... The US uses them with a great measure of sucess
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Old 06-25-2002, 09:00   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by XA coupe
NSW trialled Stop Stix ... Snr Cst Jim Affleck was run aover and killed because the crook thought it was better to run over the police officer than the stix.. Unfortunately the NSW govt stopped the trial there... The US uses them with a great measure of sucess
How does the US deal with the possibilities of police officers being run down? There must be ways of making it safer for the officers.
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Old 06-25-2002, 09:41   #7 (permalink)
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Jim afflecks death was not representative... it was nothing more than murder... The US has its shares of deaths in the line of duty
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Old 06-25-2002, 09:50   #8 (permalink)
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Well if it was not representative then why did the NSW police pull the pin on the program, seems stupid.
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Old 06-25-2002, 09:51   #9 (permalink)
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liability.. and they may carry guns and batons and such.. but dont forget they are public servants and have the mentality to go with it ( I mean command not the troops on the street)
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Old 06-25-2002, 17:58   #10 (permalink)
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Unfortunately there is no answer that will satisfy - there can never be "guidelines" that are not open to argument or interpretation simply because no two instances will ever be exactly the same - just too many variables. It either has to be a blanket "no chase", which opens the door for mass abuse, or we continue with basically what we have now and try to console ourselves with the knowledge that sometimes, despite all care being taken, there will be the occasional catastrophe - we have to gamble as it were on the law of averages and for the "better good" of the general community.
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