Monday, December 7, 2009

More from Indy

More details have come out from the incident/pursuit in Indianapolis last week, when the fleeing vehicle ran into a daycare center. Luckily no one was killed. From the Indy Star:

"This one I wouldn't stick on the cops," said South Carolina University Professor Geoff Alpert, a frequent critic of police chases.

John Phillips, founder of the advocacy group PursuitWatch .org, said, "I don't have any problem with what they did."


Phillips of said he wondered why the police didn't "come out and say, 'Yes, we chased them, and we should have.' "

Even in jurisdictions with the strictest pursuit policies -- such as Orlando, Fla., where officers are instructed to turn off their lights and turn around if a fleeing motorist is considered nonviolent -- chasing armed robbers is justified, he said

For the rest, click HERE.

Friday, December 4, 2009

"Car crashes into Northeastside daycare"

Yesterday, a fleeing Jeep clipped another car and ran, literally, through a daycare in Indianapolis. Luckily it looks like all the children who were hurt will survive, although one was injured critically. There seems to be some debate on whether it was a pursuit.

"I don't even know if this will go on the record as a police pursuit," said Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Lt. Jeff Duhamell, who said it wasn't clear whether the officer who responded ever "got within a couple hundred yards" during the three minutes that elapsed between the time the officer spotted the Jeep and when it smashed into the brick side of Stepping Stones Child Care, 2511 E. 46th St.

While the police might be hesitant to call it a pursuit, the suspects have been charged with fleeing police. I was quoted in the article in regards to departments and their policies.

Police chases that end in accidents can be a sensitive topic for police departments. Experts said with each pursuit that ends in tragedy, departments are pressured to relax their chase strategies, and many have.

"It often takes some terrible event, but more departments are making changes every year," said John Phillips, director of Pursuit, a Web site that studies police pursuit policies. "It's sad but true.

To read the entire article, click HERE.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hot pursuit: Dashcam video fuels Rugby Road chase debate

I was recently quoted in an article about a pursuit in Virginia that raised a lot of questions.

About two months after the August 7 incident, which captured widespread attention after the car’s driver somehow disappeared from a seemingly fatal wreck, a 17-year-old city student was arrested in mid-October, according to Charlottesville spokesperson Ric Barrick, who— in response to a reporter’s request— released a tape of the chase, a 112-second video in which even the police car hits 85mph on the residential road.

This is a very interesting article, and the journalism is top notch. To continue,

Despite fears that crime would explode, Orlando and Orange County, Florida, went ahead in 2004 with what may be the nation’s most restrictive ones. They limit pursuits to those involving people suspected of violent crimes.

John Phillips remembers all too well what spurred the policy.

In 2001, when he was 18 years old, his older sister was a college sophomore preparing to enter a nursing program. Sarah Phillips went out one night with three friends to a movie. After dropping off her friends, she unknowingly found herself on the same road as a police pursuit.

To read the rest, click HERE.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Officer responsible for the death of a 10-year-old bike rider gets.... One day suspension

This one is frustrating:

On October 17, [Cpl. Michael] Vaughn was racing from one call to another when his squad car fatally struck 10-year-old Cole Berardi, who was riding his bicycle on a darkened portion of Belt Line Road in southeast Dallas... Cpl. Vaughn's lights and siren were not activated as required.

To continue...

The police accident report released lists speed as a contributing factor in the accident. It states that the speed of Cpl. Vaughn's vehicle ranged from 69 mph to 72 mph at the time of impact. The speed limit on that stretch of road is 40 mph.

A horrible event, but what makes this even more frustrating is the punishment for the officer.

A Dallas police officer who fatally struck a child last October received a one-day suspension during a disciplinary hearing this afternoon.

Outrageous. I don't know how this punishment could be defended.

For the rest, click HERE.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

"CMPD says 23 percent of pursuits end in a wreck"

From News 14 in North Carolina:

"CMPD, and any police agency, they don't initiate a pursuit. The suspect does. They refuse to stop," CMPD Deputy Chief Ken Miller said.

Grassroots watchdog organizations advocating for safer pursuit policies remain concerned. John Phillips, president of said the organization isn't against all police chases, but feels there should be tighter restrictions.

"Sometimes it's forgotten that the job isn't necessarily to catch the bad guy, but to protect the public," John Phillips, president of, said.

For the rest, including video, click HERE.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chris Cooper's killer gets 15 years, family wants reform

A PursuitWatch reader pointed out the development in the Chris Cooper story. 17 year old Chris was riding his bike while he was struck and killed by Wilfredo Pujols who was being pursuit by the Independence Police Department.

PhillipsWatch blogged about this in November of 07 when it occurred.

For more on the sentence, as well as Chris' family's goal to change the Independence Missouri's pursuit policy, click HERE.

When PursuitWatch first discussed the death of Chris, his mother Cheryl left a comment. She wrote:

Christopher Cooper is my beloved son. He was hit and killed on November 8, 2007, during a high speed police pursuit. His loss has left us devastated and struggling to find a way to justify his death. In Independence, the support from the public is for the police department, and we will have an uphill battle trying to convince them that their policy is deeply flawed. God bless you, John, for carrying on your father's work. I look at your site each day for ways in which I can bring about change in the way pursuits are conducted. Thank you for your time.
Cheryl Cooper

Monday, February 23, 2009

Danbury News Times

In yesterdays edition the Danbury News Times of Danbury, Connecticut ran several stories concerning police pursuits.

First, Robert Miller asked, "Are police pursuits worth the risk?"

For those reasons, the era of the high-speed chase -- beloved by movie directors and TV cop reality shows -- is ending in many places.

"I think that's what's happening,'' said John Phillips of Orlando, Fla., who runs the Web site Pursuit Watch, which tracks police chases across the country.

"A police officer who's a friend of mine puts it this way: 'Our job isn't to arrest some guy. It's to protect the community,''' Phillips related.

Next, Brian Koonz offered his commentary.

Police pursuits in Connecticut should be forbidden for all misdemeanor charges, and all non-violent felony charges that do not involve a weapon or the probable suspicion of a weapon.

Understand, these chases are not stock footage for the next installment of "Cops" or some other reality-based police show. This is real life, where law enforcement at all costs is not always the right answer.

John Phillips, who runs the Web site, which chronicles police pursuits in the United States, agrees. But while saying Hildebrandt's crime did not fit his punishment, Phillips could also look at the situation from the viewpoint of police officers, who "go out and put their lives at risk every day for their communities.

"Why put them in these kinds of situations?'' Phillips said of high-risk pursuits.