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.