Police talk about high speed chases and what goes into a decision to pursue
Updated: 6/19/2012 10:21 pm | Published: 6/19/2012 9:36 pm
Salt Lake City (ABC 4 News) - New numbers show just how many people are hit, hurt and mowed down in high speed chases involving police. And Utah police talk about making the decision to pursuit or back off.
ABC News reported Tuesday that high speed chases now kill more people every year than stray bullets. Here in Utah we know about their dangers. A few years ago an accident happened when a car was being chased in Ogden. The person trying to get away from police slammed into a non-involved vehicle and killed two people.
In California more than ten thousand people have been injured over the last ten years in police involved chases. That includes the elderly parents of Stephanie Yablow. They were struck by a car being chased by LAPD. Yablow says "A car came around the corner and literally slammed into them in the crosswalk."
Nationally these kinds of chases kill almost three hundred people per year. And you don't have to look far to find to find them.
Lubbock Texas - a toddler was tossed from the window of an SUV on the run from police. Salt Lake City - a car running from cops nearly hits several other vehicles in an intersection. California - a Mercedes reaches speeds of 100 miles per hour through the streets of Hollywood.
Sgt. Shawn Josephson with Salt Lake City Police says his officers don't take chases lightly. "We don't just pursue for the fun of a pursuit. We are pursuing because we want to take a dangerous person off of the streets."
But research shows that nationwide 90 percent of those pursuits involve non-violent offences. Josephson says police are asked to walk a fine line. "If we chase them that has the potential of them running a red light, running a stop sign and possibly causing an accident...if we don't pursue that doesn't mean they will slow down and stop."
He says while police are the ones in the spotlight in pursuits the real problem is the driver who takes off. "Anytime a person decides they are going to run from police they are endangering the public." He goes on to say that in Salt Lake City they are told to take everything into consideration and ask themselves questions before hitting the gas. "Do we need to capture this individual immediately? Or is it safer to capture him some other way on another day?"
Josephson adds while there are some scenarios where they almost always give chase. "If somebody has committed a very violent crime - we will definitely look at that circumstance." But he says before every chase the officer needs to consider the options.
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