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.