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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Police Chase Policy Questioned

The latest chase-related death, proceeded by four others in the Oklahoma City area in less than two months, has resulted in a call to take a closer look at the "chase policy" of OKC law-enforcement agencies. (See "Latest fatal chase spurs call for policy discussion" in today's Daily Oklahoman.) That's all well and good, though, I have to say, my sympathy tends to go toward our officers, who daily place their lives on the line in an underpaid and increasingly-thankless job, and I would expect to be more willing to accept an assessment of the situation, as well as a remedy, from someone who is or has been "on the job," rather than some career politician looking to score points locally or nationally.

What I don't understand about this particular incident, and it's potential role in changing policy, is that the death did not occur during the car chase. The story in the Oklahoman states that after the car hit two stop-sticks, "an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper forced it into a retaining wall, which ended the pursuit." Okay, so the vehicle pursuit was OVER. It was then that, fleeing on foot, the suspect jumped over the guardrail of the I-35 fly-over; he died later at the OU Medical Center. It seems to me that this is a case of a fatality occurring during a foot chase. The trooper who ended the car pursuit did his job. So, why is this particular case a "chink" in local law-enforcement's procedural armor?