Tuesday, November 27, 2007

**For those who watched Fox News this evening**

First, I would like to thank you for visiting the site. Please leave your thoughts under this blog post or send me an email at jharrissphillips@gmail.com. It is through thoughtful discourse that we can truly find a solution. Many Thanks.

You can view a video of the story HERE.

You can also read an article concerning StarChase with quotes from Dr. Geoff Alpert HERE.

Please continue to use the valuable resources available here at PursuitWatch.org

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mmmmm... Research

Post #1: The Beginning

Orange County, FL has one of the strongest and most progressive vehicle pursuit policies in the nation. A vital part of a good policy is the ability to review incidents. Whenever someone fails to pull over when asked, deputies are required to fill out a Vehicle Apprehension (V.A.) Form. This form includes, among other things, location, time, and results of the attempt to pull over the suspect.

PursuitWatch.org has begun a informative study of the V.A. forms. They can tell us a lot about the state of police pursuits in a county with a large population and a progressive pursuit policy.

This blog post will be continually updated throughout the research process with:

- Methods of study
- Results of study
- Opinions of the research process
- And anything else I can think of

...Keep checking back.

Post #2: Problems

The Orange County Sheriff's Office has been wonderful in providing me the tools to do this research. There are, however, limitations to my access to the V.A. forms.

  • There are literally thousands of these forms.
  • Before June of 2006, V.A. forms were not kept in a central location. They were housed throughout the county in various offices. However, in June of last year, the decision was made that all V.A. forms should be kept together, so all of the forms dating back to 2003, were brought to headquarters. It would take endless hours to sort these forms out. So, the only way to gage proper sample size would be to draw from the forms, starting with July of 2006 to June of 2007, the time period after the forms begun to be organized. Of these files, they are separated by month.
  • There is sensitive information on the forms that I cannot view. For example, if the suspect that failed to stop is a juvenile, I cannot view any of the information. Also, things like names and social security numbers of the suspects are personal data that must be blacked out. Because of this I cannot myself sort through these forms. I can only view them once they have been reviewed. Will this spoil the results. No. I am taking every necessary step to ensure an accurate sample size. I will talk more about that as the process continues.
Next, I will be talking about the sample size that I have decided to go with, and why. Again, this study will be done correctly to ensure that the findings can be stated with confidence.

...More to come.

Post #3: Maps

An essential part of the research we are tackling here deals with the location of the incidents. We would like to be able to, for example, say that a "majority" or "1/3" of these incidents occurred in this part of the county. This, however, brings up a few questions. Since it is a quantitative study of the Vehicle Apprehension Forms, a way of coding must be established. Here are a few of the ideas that are being discussed.

We can divide the county up as the OCSO does, by sectors. Below is their county map divided by sectors.
A simple glance at the map brings up a glaring problem. How can this map be used to provide accurate numbers? For example, what if our study finds that there were four times as many incidents in zone 2 then there was in zone 6? Does that mean anything? Well, first, zone 2 is much, much larger than zone 6. But, at the same time, zone 6 might have a larger population, more roads, or more traffic.

Another way of approaching the geography issue is by dividing the county up in to areas with the same amount of square miles. This also has a few drawbacks. What if one sector has almost no roads, or traffic, thus no incidents?

So the question remains, can we accurately view the results using this method? The solution might involve using both methods. Also, as is the case with any research, the methods must be accurately explained so that, as a college professor of mine would always say, "you don't become dangerous."

Another method that will be done is simply dotting the point of the incident on a map of the county. That way one can understand that makeup of the counties incidents. This, however, is not quantitative.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pursuit in Orlando:

Police pursued what they thought was a suspect in a shooting and robbery last night, finding out when the pursuit ended they were chasing the wrong man. The fleeing man was arrested on drug charges, driving with a suspended license, and felony fleeing. Police were given the description of the vehicle involved in the robbery, which matched the description of the vehicle the fled. The chase occurred around the MetroWest area of Orlando. Police are still looking for the suspect in the armed robbery.

Source: Orlando Sentinel

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Three County Pursuit In Central Florida

Last night, a three county pursuit in Central Florida ended when stop sticks deflated the fleeing vehicles tires, forcing him to surrender. Two men apparently robbed a fast-food restaurant at gun point, which led to the pursuit. Orlando Police initiated the pursuit. According to their policy, the pursuit was justified. HERE is a link (with video) to the Orlando Sentinel story.

Below are the violent forcible felonies that warrant pursuits by the Orlando Police Department:

1. Murder.

2. Manslaughter.

3. Armed robbery.

4. Armed sexual battery.

5. Arson to a structure reasonably believed to be occupied.

6. Use of explosive devices to a structure reasonably believed to be occupied.

7. Kidnapping

8. Armed carjacking.

9. Burglary armed with a firearm.

10. Aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon (firearm, edged weapon). Does not include a motor vehicle.

11. Aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer resulting in serious injury.

Police are still searching for a second suspect in connection with the robbery.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Independence, Mo.: Two pursuits, two deaths...

Two pursuits in less than 24 hours have resulted in two deaths, one of those a 17 year-old on his bike. Christopher Cooper (above) was crossing the street when the car being chased by police stuck him. The driver is cousin to St. Louis Cardinals star Albert Pujols. More information in the two stories below.

KMBC- Kansas City


You don't need me to tell you that this is madness. It's obvious. More to come following the holiday.

Friday, November 9, 2007

PursuitWatch.org Redesign

It's a work in progress, but there have been a number of changes to PursuitWatch.org's website. Most notable is the logo and color scheme change. Actually, the logo will change again soon. As for the colors, they are now streamlined with the blog, and look pretty spiffy if you ask me. Also, things have been simplified. The navigation bar on the left is more straightforward. Next, many of the articles linked on the main page have been sent to the archives, which now has more content then ever. Finally, we have a lead in page with my message to law enforcement officers visiting the site.

Again, it is still a work in progress. If you have any comments about the redesign, or anything else for that matter, please CONTACT me.

Also, I would like to thank Tina Holmes, Ben Bruner, and David Pope for their assistance. You can visit Ben's web design site HERE.

Side Note: Research on the Orange County Sheriff Office Vehicle Apprehension Forms is underway. I am taking my time on this and making sure I am taking all necessary steps to ensure validity. More on this after the holiday.

Letter to the Indy Star

I sent the following letter to the Indianapolis Star in response to an incident in which a pedestrian was stuck and killed by a police officer responding to a police pursuit. You can read the Indy Star article HERE.

Here is the letter to the editor in its entirety:

I found Indianapolis police Sgt. Matthew Mount’s comment in the Nov. 4th article about the death of a pedestrian by a police officer responding to a high speed pursuit alarming. He explained, “Frankly, somebody jumping out in front of a police vehicle—with lights and sirens activated, operating within the parameters of what he’s supposed to be doing—is something you can’t control.” Sgt. Mount is wrong. The fact is the pursuit in which the officer was responding to should have never taken place. Police should not pursue suspects unless they are believed to be involved in a violent felony. Running a red light, as was the offense in this case, is not worth the risk of pursuing to both the police officers and the innocent public.

Sure, this also wouldn’t have happened if the suspect would have stopped when asked, but should law enforcement compound a bad decision by making bad decisions of their own? Police get in trouble when they lose control of the situation, and at no time in the career of a law enforcement officer are they less in control of events then during a police pursuit.

According to the Star, the IMPD can pursue for ANY reason. This is astonishing. Law enforcement must understand that a smart policy does not hinder their ability to do their job. Technologies such as helicopters, radios, video cameras, GPS, and the everyday computer ensures us that just because the pursuing officer loses sight of the suspects does not mean they will get away.

Often, police forget that their job is not to arrest people but to keep their community safe. Did they do it in this case? No.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Some Random News

First, I interviewed for the BBC this last week. I was very pleased with the questions and professionalism of the entire situation. More to come...

Next week, PursuitWatch will announce some details of an extensive study that is in the works concerning pursuit/vehicle apprehension statistics. This has been in the planning stages for some time, and is partially to blame for the several postless days on this blog. PursuitWatch hopes to bring some validity to the pursuit debate.

Check in next week for details.

Also, we are working on a site redesign. Its been several years since any layout work has been done. Look for the changes to be integrated throughout the month. Thus, if you run into any busted links or other such errors, we would love to hear about them.

All in all, it is as busy as ever around here. Many thanks to all of PursuitWatch's supporters.