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An innocent life for a stolen vehicle?

 

The police are authorized in Indiana and other states, to violate traffic laws in the performance of their duties. Sometimes, this is because they are racing to the scene of an emergency. Other times, it is because they are following someone who is often attempting to evade them, frequently at high speed.

In a few cases, the suspect may be wanted for a violent crime and poses a risk to the general public. But in far too many cases, the high-speed pursuit is due to the violation of some minor traffic ordinance or other misdemeanors that typically are only punishable by a fine. However, a police pursuit in some cases transforms the punishment into a death penalty.

 

These high-speed pursuits cost more than just the lives of the suspects. Since 1979, 2,456 innocent bystanders have been killed as a result of crashes involving high-speed police chases. These numbers are probably low, as the record keeping is poor. And the numbers injured could be more than a quarter of a million.

Remember, the vast majority of these incidents do not involve murderers on killing sprees; they involve someone with a broken taillight or shoplifters. Police like to pretend that these chases are all that stands between complete chaos and that the suspect should not run. But let's be honest; in situations like this, it's up to the police to be the adults.

The pragmatic question to ask is this: Is an innocent bystander's life worth this traffic stop. Additionally, most police lack adequate training to handle a vehicle in a pursuit and pose a danger to themselves and others. Motorcycle police are often forbidden from pursuits because of the risks.

In cases where someone is suspected of a serious crime, far less dangerous methods can be employed. Systems exist that can deploy a "GPS tag" that allows officers to track the vehicle from a safe distance and make an arrest later.

Even if they are stealing the car, the penalty for car theft is far less than death, which is often the result of a high-speed chase.

 

Source: usatoday.com, "High-speed police chases have killed thousands of innocent bystanders," Thomas Frank, July 30, 2015

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