Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Apparently I'm Misleading

In a blog post from a few weeks ago (that you can read HERE), I received a comment that laid it on pretty thick. I will post what he/she said, that then respond the best I can. I hope whoever wrote it, reads this.

Mr. Phillips, this article you posted by the Belleville News Democrat is misleading. The unfortunate deaths of these two girls was not the result of a police pursuit. An Illinois State Police Trooper was responding to a motor vehicle crash where there were injuries and people possibly trapped inside their crashed vehicle(s). You have also manipulated the actual story from the paper. I live in the Belleville area and am quite familiar with this tragic event. If you are going to use this article for your cause then please correct it to it's proper content as printed by the Belleville News Democrat. As it is posted on this site now it is wrong and seemingly intentionally misleading to benefit your cause. Now, please don't misinterpret my reply as a negative toward your site. I agree, to an extent, your efforts to maintain smart pursuits but at the same time I also believe if you intentionally manipulated this article you are serving no better of a cause then the reason this site was originally intended. The death of your loved one.

First, I would like to ask how I manipulated the actual story from the paper? I purposely posted only the section of the article concerning me. The reason why is that I don't want to take away from the efforts of Mike Fitzgerald and his newspaper. That is why I linked to the rest of the story, in order to encourage readers to follow it and read the whole story, thus giving credit to the Belleville News Democrat. They would much rather prefer you read their story at their site... Not mine.

Although the incident in question was not a pursuit, Mr. Fitzgerald wanted my opinion as to police vehicular training, an area I am certainly qualified to speak about. I never said a word, in the article, or the blog post in question, about police pursuits.

What Mr. Fitzgerald and I were trying to get to is that police driver training takes a backseat to firearm training, yet instances of vehicular accidents are far more common. Nothing more, nothing less...

I ask Anonymous to please respond and be more specific. Again, at no time did I misrepresent myself, the Belleville News Democrat, Mike Fitzgerald, the incident in question, or the facts of the matter.

Belleville News-Democrat Again

In another article concerning the Illinois State Police, Mike Fitzgerald of the Belleville News-Democrat asks: "Can the Illinois State Police properly investigate itself?"

I had a small quote in his article, but it got the point across:

John Phillips, executive director of PursuitWatch, which promotes safer police driving, said the state police must show whenever possible that their investigation is as transparent as possible.

"They need to be willing to open up when asked," Phillips said. "They need to say, 'Absolutely, here's what we know.'"

You can read the rest of the article HERE

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

One they didn't publish

I sent this letter to the News & Observer (Raleigh, NC) concerning a pursuit by the Franklinton PD that killed two young sisters.

Subject: Unnecessary Tragedy

In the wake of Saturday’s police chase that ended in the death of two young sisters, the Franklinton Police Department must develop a progressive, well defined policy that only pursues those suspected of committing a violent crime. Simply stated, the pursuit of someone who was observed driving dangerously should have never occurred. Was the need to apprehend this man so important that it was worth the risk to both the officer and the innocent public? No.

Currently, according to reports, the Franklinton PD allows a pursuit if a felony has occurred. In this case the felony that justified the pursuit was the suspect’s refusal to pull over. If this is their justification, then what is the purpose of having a policy at all? This way they can pursue someone who has a broken taillight or littered.

A policy that only allows a pursuit if one is suspected of a violent crime such as rape or murder properly weights the safety of the public with the need to catch the bad guys. 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.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Belleville News-Democrat

Here is a story from Sunday's Belleville News Democrat in regards to police driver training.

Firearms training is a big deal for the Illinois State Police.

Which is why state troopers must go to a shooting range every three months to requalify in the use of their handguns.

But the only formal training state troopers receive in the handling of their vehicles, including high-speed pursuits and emergency responses, occurs during their days as Illinois State Police Academy cadets, according to Master Sgt. Brian Ley, a state police spokesman.

Otherwise, their driver's training occurs on their own, during the thousands of miles troopers log each year.

The failure of the state police to ensure more and better driver's education for its troopers is an all-too-familiar story that has resulted in scores of needless deaths each year nationwide, according to John Phillips, executive director of Florida-based PursuitWatch, which promotes safe driving techniques for police.

"The problem here is that in a 25-year career, an officer on average will shoot their gun once," Phillips said. "And in that same time period, 80 percent of their time on the job is spent in their car. Yet when we look at training, it's overwhelmingly in the use of their handgun."

The question of how much training police officers should receive to drive their vehicles safely has been raised following a crash along Interstate 64 near Scott Air Force Base that claimed the lives of two Collinsville sisters -- Jessica Uhl, 18, and Kelli Uhl, 13.

Continued HERE.

This also got picked up in the AP article you can read HERE.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Some thoughts on this Monday morning...

I ran across some interesting thoughts this morning while over at by retired police chief Van Blaricom. I quote:

If, for instance, officers were not held accountable for compliance with deadly force policies, does anyone doubt that we would have many more bad shootings? The fact is that police pursuits seriously injure and kill far more innocent third parties than are ever going to be placed at the risk of a police shooting. Why is that permitted? Officers are strictly prohibited from firing into a crowd, but they are routinely given the latitude to pursue a stolen car through urban streets against traffic control devices until a collision terminates the chase.

This has happened over and over again throughout the United States and will continue to occur until chief policymakers assert effective administrative control over when and how vehicular pursuits are to be conducted. Can there be any question that this is a critical public safety issue demanding attention?

It seems like one of the reasons so many restrictions are placed on the use of firearms is because it is viewed as not necessary to take that steps to catch the bad guy. In other words, shooting into a crowded room isn't worth it because, hell, if you are close enough to shoot him you can bring it to a safer end.

For some reason, when it comes to vehicle pursuits, people seem to think it is over if police do not chase suspects. I'll say it again: Just because the suspect escapes the view of the patrol car does not mean he wins. Technology such as the two way radio, helicopters, video equipment, the ability to run license plates, etc. ensure the chase is not over...

Two Palm Beach Sheriff's Officers die during pursuit of stolen car

Two Palm Beach Sheriff's Officers have died following the pursuit of two men who were suspected of stealing a car.

Early Wednesday morning, police received a call from a resident saying their neighbors car was being broken into. Police responded and noticed the stolen car traveling down Route 715. After refusing to stop, a sergeant authorized the pursuit.

Two deputies, Donta Manuel and Johnathan Wallace placed stop sticks in the direction of the chase and were successful. However, when the two officers were removing the stop sticks shortly after, they were struck and killed by one of the sheriff's pursuing vehicles.

More to come as this tragedy unfolds.

Source: Orlando Sentinel

Update: 3:30 PM 11/28/07

One of the suspects is in custody. Police are still searching for a second.

Officer Manual

Officer Wallace

Still Developing...

Source: Palm Beach Post

Update: 11:30 AM 12/03/07

Details are starting to surface concerning last weeks accident in Palm Beach county. The following comes from a South Florida Sun Sentinel Article. You can read it in full HERE.

Palm Beach County Sheriff's Deputies Donta Manuel and Jonathan Wallace threw tire-deflation devices into the path of a fleeing stolen car but left a key component in the trunk, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said Thursday.

If the retrieval lanyards had been attached to the Stop Sticks, Bradshaw said, the deputies simply could have yanked the devices off State Road 715 south of Pahokee. Instead, they darted onto the highway to get them early Wednesday and were hit and killed by another deputy's cruiser.

"That decision turned out to be a fatal mistake," Bradshaw said after outlining his agency's policies on the use of Stop Sticks and police pursuits.

Police are still searching for the passenger in the fleeing vehicle.