Monday, October 15, 2007

Letter to the Topeka Capital-Journal

I wrote the following letter to the editor for the Topeka Capital-Journal in response to the article linked HERE.

I am writing in response to the Oct. 14 article (Police chases driven by rules) regarding the pursuit policy of the Topeka Police Department. Police Chief Miller says that his department will chase and apprehend those who flee, but at the same time try to do this as safely as possible. Chief Miller must understand that in order to do this, pursuits must only be justified in cases of violent crimes, not simple traffic violations or other minor crimes. The risk to the public and officers involved do not justify the need to chase these violators. After all, technological advances such as the helicopters mentioned in the article, provide law enforcement other options that insures the public that just because the fleeing vehicle runs out of the sight of the officer in chase does not mean the suspect got away.

A departments policy should be strictly defined in order to prevent knee jerk reactions by officers, although perhaps properly trained, make mistakes.

Police Capt. Ron Brown asked, "if we do terminate the pursuit, are we allowing the person driving his car at 80 to 90 mph to continue, putting the public at greater risk?" I would ask Capt. Brown the following question: Which has a greater chance to end in tragedy: One car driving recklessly at 90 mph, or that same dangerous driver followed by 5 police cars driving just as recklessly? You can do the math.

After all, the job of a police officer is not to arrest people, but protect its citizens. Unfortunately this is often forgotten, and innocent lives such as my sister Sarah's, are lost.

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