Thursday, February 21, 2008

Just what happened in Panama City Beach?

A suspect still remains at large after a pursuit of a suspected drunk driver ended in a deadly rear-end collision, according to the Panama City News Herald.

Two of the victims sons arrived on the scene of the crash shortly after and some sort of confrontation ensued. The sons claimed a plain clothes man claiming to be a police officer, despite being told they were family members of the deceased, inappropriately assaulted the brothers and violently forced them to the ground and handcuffed them. Officers say the sons refused to identify themselves and were thus during their job in keeping the crime scene clear of outsiders.

According to the News Herald article:

[Cmdr. Michael] Moring wrote that he identified himself as a police officer and asked them who they were, but the brothers told him their identities were none of his business. Moring said he told them to identify themselves and then “physically stopped one of the unknown white males from entering the crime scene.” The second male “drew his right arm back with a balled fist as if he were about to strike me.”

A physical altercation ensued and the men, Jeff and Terry Lenz, were taken to the ground and handcuffed.

The other three officers offered similar accounts of the incident.

Watch the sons account of events:

What really took place will probably never be absolutely known. This problem just goes to show the effects of poor policy and decision making by law enforcement. A pursuit of a suspected drunk driver should never ensue, and difficult decisions soaked in tense emotions should never have to be made.

One thing is for sure, Paul Lenz in dead.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Palm Beach Post and Washington Post

Interesting article from this weekends Palm Beach Post:

In the hours following the fatal Pahokee crash, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw supported the decision to follow a stolen 1990 Toyota, saying the conditions were right. The suspect and deputies wound through the Glades in the early morning hours of Nov. 28, with no bystanders at risk.

Bradshaw noted the link between violent crime and car theft. Plus, this pursuit technically wasn't a chase, he said, given deputy Greg Fernandez's speed of 55 mph moments before crashing into his two co-workers.

Yet former Sheriff Ed Bieluch says that number is way off. At least three people close to the investigation put the impact speed at 110 to 112 mph, said Bieluch, who is considering another bid for the office. The traffic investigation remains open, and officials have not released any findings.

Bradshaw: How can this not be a chase!?! Was does "technically" mean? Does technically really matter when you have two of your officers who are now dead?

Four of every 10 pursuits end in crashes, and two of every 10 end in injuries, according to research noted on the Web site

A 1997 study by criminology expert Geoffrey Alpert published in the National Institute of Justice's Research In Brief found that nearly half of police agencies nationwide had modified their pursuit policies during the previous two years - and that 87 percent made their guidelines more restrictive.

Continue HERE.

Also, the Officer who was involved in a deadly pileup on the Capital Beltway last May has been indicted on two counts of vehicular manslaughter. I appeared on Countdown with Keith Olberman and the Washington Post in response to this incident. You can read a transcript of the Countdown interview HERE.

The incident began about 7 p.m. May 30, when Campbell, a seven-year veteran of the department on routine patrol, began chasing a speeding motorcycle near the Richie-Marlboro exit on the Beltway's outer loop.

Campbell's police cruiser slammed into McCarter and Clanton's sport-utility vehicle. The SUV flew over the guardrail and into traffic on the Beltway's inner loop, causing a series of crashes that closed down all lanes for almost five hours.

Continue HERE.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Billings Gazette Comments

Last week I wrote a post about the comments of Billings PD Training Officer Kathy Carson (You can catch up HERE). The Billings Gazette wrote a story about the situation (That you can read HERE).

There have been an interesting mix of responses. Some have noted the importance of ones choice of words, others have ripped me as someone just looking for press. In order to help clarify the situation, I will explain what happened from my end.

I came across the initial story and the accompanying video and was very concerned with Officer Carson's comment. I emailed her expressing my concern and my reasons why. I CC'd Chief St. John, the Billings Gazette, and the TV station that ran the story.

I got a response back from Officer Carson and below is it in its entirety:

I am sorry for your loss. I wish you could have heard the whole interview, unfortunately it was edited.

That's all. First, I asked her to apologize for her comment, not for my loss. I also asked for some sort of assurance that that is not the way she goes about her job. Apparently that is too much to ask.

Shortly after I got an email from Cheif St. John explaining that their department takes pursuits very seriously and thanking me for my concern. Basically, it was an A+ job by him.

I let the issue go and moved on thanks to the Chief's response.

A few days later a got a call from the Billings Gazette. The reporter asked if the situation had been solved. I told him it has, due to the Chief's email, not that of Officer Carson's one line response. He then told me that he did some research and found out she was involved in a pursuit with a fatality in '03. That opened it up again for me. Thus, I sent another email to Officer Carson telling her that I was not satisfied with her first response, and that the news that she was involved in a pursuit with a fatality bothered me even more.

She has yet to respond...

That is exactly what happened.

Long story short, none of this would have happened had Officer Carson taken my concerns seriously.

By the way, she has still yet to respond...

A few articles to read...

The last week has been very busy here at PursuitWatch so I haven't had the time to post as much as I would like. So before I get all the news on here, check out these two articles:

Billings Gazette article concerning the comments of Officer Kathy Carson HERE

Florida Today article about the use of helicopters in police pursuits HERE