Sunday, July 25, 2010

Corpus police won't chase traffic violators or non-DWI misdemeanants

The Corpus Christi PD implemented a new high-speed chase policy this week, reports the Caller-Times ("Corpus Christi police update pursuit policy," July 24): "It is now the department’s official policy not to pursue motorists for traffic violations or misdemeanors other than driving under the influence, Cmdr. Steve Mylett said." The chief explained the reasoning behind the change:
“We can’t get into a situation where we’re endangering the public more than the individual, if left on the streets, would endanger the public,” Police Chief Troy Riggs said. “The first thing is to protect human life.”

Last year, the department’s officers were involved in 76 high speed chases, Riggs said. About 80 percent of those were with traffic violators who didn’t necessarily need to be pursued at speeds of 80 to 100 mph, he said.
Before changing the policy, officials talked to other departments that had increased their requirements to start or continue a pursuit. They were told that the number of people fleeing from officers did not increase and that most of the people who did were caught eventually, Mylett said.
 With the number of on-the-job officer deaths up so far this year, this is a wise move to protect both officers and the public. About 2/3 of on-the-job police deaths occur during traffic accidents, many during high-speed pursuits.

See related Grits posts:


Atticus said...

This should be state law...

Anonymous said...

Any department should review it's pursuit policy and revise it as necessary in light of many trends and case law that has evolved over the past decade or more. Since any modern policy statement is a 'living' document and should be updated regularly. To advertise it however invites more drivers simply speeding away from the red and blue lights. Why stop for the cop? Obviously there are other options in at least some of the situations but the bottom line is to advertise this type of policy change invites certain members of the public to throw the dice and assume (or at least hope) the cops can't ID you later. All of this cause and effect takes even more time out of the LE resources which are already stretched to the limit. Do the right thing but try and be smart about it.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

That makes sense, 9:57, except for two things. First, other jurisdictions that made the switch didn't see an increase in people running.

More critically, any department that made such a change without publicizing it would be accused of concealing it. Rank and file officers tend to oppose restrictions on chases and inevitably launch whispering campaigns that end up in the local media. So departments that want to change the policy basically have to discuss it publicly. As a practical matter, they have no choice.

Anyway, the halls of jails and prisons aren't typically lined with newspaper subscribers and blog afficianados. I'm betting there's little crossover between subscribers to the Caller Times and the day-to-day roster at the county jail. Most of those folks aren't big readers.

I agree with Atticus, I think Corpus' policy should be state law. There are way too many small jurisdictions, many with no policies on pursuits at all or else leaving the officer 100% discretion. If the Lege is going to allow a zillion different special le jurisdictions, they need to regulate them better.

Anonymous said...

On Sunday night when I use to bartend at a bar on Leopard street and it was slow on Sundays and we stand outside and besides pulling people over for no reason and terrorizing our customers they would drag race down Leopard street. This was just 2 and a half years ago. Hopefully they have been more respectful of the law since then.