News accounts report that, on Sunday evening, suspects believed to have stolen a vehicle in the northwest portion of our county began to flee from police. Evidently, the vehicle was stolen from a fast food restaurant. A deputy constable spotted it, and then tried to pull it over. At that, the driver, with two passengers, began to flee. The suspect was chased by the deputy in his patrol car, and he was assisted by a helicopter and a K-9 unit. The good news is that the chase was brief, two suspects were apprehended, and no one was injured during the chase (though the escaping suspect was reportedly bitten by the K-9 dog, as was one of those arrested).
Certainly, citizens should be relieved that two of the three were caught. And citizens should also be relieved that no one was injured in the chase.
>The use of police chases often creates interesting news footage, but it involves a significant risk/benefit analysis. Without question, we want suspected criminals to be apprehended. We do not want our policies to encourage them to flee in motor vehicles with the expectation that they can “get away.” Yet, high-speed chases of fleeing suspects impose extreme safety hazards upon the public. In fact, the danger can vastly outweigh the law which the officers are attempting to enforce. In the recent past, our community has received reports of chases in which the suspects were injured, as well as ones in which innocent motorists were killed. Moreover, modern police tactics provide numerous alternatives that can catch suspected law breakers without endangering others with high-speed chases.
This recent news story provides good news. But it could easily have resulted in disaster. Before that happens again, leaders at the top of our law enforcement agencies must thoroughly review the policies and determine the best, and safest, ways to catch the crooks.