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Deadly chase prompts questions

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Topeka police must analyze methods

A recent car chase in Topeka that took the life of an innocent woman must be analyzed.

The chase, which was conducted at relatively low speeds, concluded with a horrific crash, which killed a passenger of another vehicle.

What started as an attempt to pull over the driver of a vehicle found to have a faulty taillight prompted an 11-minute chase, mostly through North Topeka, before the driver crossed the Kansas River and eventually caused a three-vehicle crash at S.W. 6th and Topeka Boulevard.

The end result of this pursuit, which began about 5 a.m. Feb. 8, contributed to the death of a passenger in another vehicle. The unintended outcome was devastating.

The charges now faced by Sherman N. Jenkins, including first-degree murder, are appropriate.

The reckless actions that led to the death of Mia Holden are reprehensible.

Holden, 34, was the single mother of five young children. They moved to Topeka from Pennsylvania, according to a GoFundMe account arranged to defray the cost of funeral and travel expenses. According to that account, Holden was en route to an outpatient surgical procedure at the time of the crash. Donations can be made through the GoFundMe account, which also lists other methods to contribute to Holden’s family.

In light of this tragedy, the Topeka Police Department must diligently review the chase and determine if additional measures could have been taken to protect the innocent.

The most important factor prompting any chase is the nature of the crime. In this instance, the tags on the vehicle in question did not come back clean, which made the chase of the stolen truck justifiable.

In addition, two tire deflation devices placed at the south end of the Kansas Avenue bridge, which Jenkins crossed during the chase, failed to stop or slow his path.

Still, what could have been done differently? Could Jenkins have been stopped before traveling into a busier area downtown? These are questions Topeka police are no doubt asking after watching the chase end so disastrously.

The incident also should prompt discussion into the use of drones, which could track drivers who flee police stops and possibly enable law enforcement to curtail chases that endanger lives.

Any discussion to that effect is worthwhile after last week’s senseless tragedy.

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