Monday, June 28, 2010

Whittier Daily News

From the Whittier Daily News in Whittier California:

Watchdog groups, such as, cite studies that show the danger of chases.

"Research shows that approximately 40 percent of all pursuits result in a crash, 20 percent result in an injury and 1 percent result in a death," said Geoffrey Alpert, a professor of criminal justice at the University of South Carolina, during an interview with

Many cities do not allow police chases for car theft, according to

You can read the rest of the article HERE.

It's been a busy few weeks for pursuit deaths across America.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A busy few days

For some reason, this last week seemed to be extremely deadly. There was the death of an innocent victim in Baldwin Park, California. In that case, the police were chasing a car thief. I argued against that chase HERE. The same newspaper published an editorial arguing for an progressive police policy.

Next, police pursued a man who was thought to be involved in a "possible disturbance" ended in his death. The Monitor in South Texas covered the story:

John Phillips heads, a website that highlights the negative consequences of police pursuits for non-violent offenses. The website was created after Phillips’ 20-year-old sister was killed as a bystander to a police pursuit in 2001.

Despite the light traffic conditions before dawn Wednesday, officers should have broken off their pursuit of Saldivar, said Phillips.

“Law enforcement has to go on what they know, and in this case the guy was just causing a disturbance,” Phillips said. “It wasn’t worth the pursuit.”


Phillips points to written pursuit policies as a way for officers and their supervisors to know how to decide during the heat of the moment — and to know “law enforcement is properly doing their job.”


Phillips disputes the notion that the responsibility rests with the person who is fleeing.

“Let’s say he was drunk,” he said. “Chasing someone because they’re drunk only compounds bad decisions. He’s already made that decision. Let’s not compound that decision and make it even worse.”

You can read the entire story HERE.

Next, in what seems like it's straight out of Hollywood, police took part in a wild chase and sequence of events in Yakima, Washington. Police started to pursue a suspected car thief until they thought they had the situation under control a few blocks later. However, the suspect jumped a fence, broke into and stole another car, driving out of the lot and nearly running over several of the officers who had exited their cars to find the suspect. A long pursuit ensued, and it ended when the suspect crashed, killing two innocent victims. From the Yakima Herald-Republic:

John Phillips, director of the Orlando-based safe-pursuit advocacy group PursuitWatch, called judging Sunday's chase in Yakima "tricky" but said he was troubled by the duration of it.

"Seven minutes, that's too long," he said. "There's just so many opportunities for something to go wrong."

Phillips, whose 20-year-old sister was an innocent victim of a 2001 police chase, noted that more than 300 people a year are killed in police pursuits, according to statistics kept since 1982 by the Federal Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of that number, roughly a third -- an average of 121 people since 1994 -- were innocent bystanders. They were either in a different vehicle or on foot or bike.

"My group isn't saying no pursuits at all, because there are times they are needed, and we want to see penalties increased for fleeing," he said.

"But pursuits shouldn't start out for minor felonies. It's like essentially shooting a gun into a crowded room."

But Merryman insisted that the incident at the used-car lot was not a minor felony. In addition to being charged Wednesday with two counts of first-degree murder, Kollman was also charged with two counts of first-degree assault for allegedly trying to run down officers during the escape.

"He's got the mindset of a cop killer," he said. "When do we let him go?"

It is important to note that the last point by Mr. Merryman justifies a pursuit for reasons that occurred after the pursuit was already initiated. If police didn't pursue the suspect from the start, the crazy events at the car lot wouldn't have happened. You can read the entire story HERE.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

San Gabriel Valley Tribune

UPDATE: The online version was changed. No word on a retraction for the print version, which I am assuming has the incorrect quote. Here is the correct quote:

"Unless the suspect has shown they don't care about human life, it's not worth it," said Phillips, whose sister was killed during a police chase in Florida.


Yesterday evening I did a short interview for a story out of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune in California. A man had stole a car, fled police and shortly after crashed into another vehicle. The innocent driver was killed.


Unfortunately, I was misquoted.

Under what he called "progressive" guidelines, most departments wouldn't chase a car thief, especially if that person was driving recklessly, he said.

"If the suspect has shown they don't care about human life, it's not worth it," said Phillips, whose sister was killed during a police chase in Florida.

What the quote should say:

"UNLESS the suspect has shown they don't care about human life, it's not worth it."

The quote that ran in the story doesn't make sense. What advocates is only pursuing those who have displayed they pose such harm to human life that we need to do whatever it possible to catch them ASAP.

You can read the rest of the article HERE.