Police not to blame for pursuit deaths (New Zealand)

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Original video from The AM Show from Newshub.  Worth your time to watch.

There are deadly #PoliceChase deaths across the world. This is a well done segment by the hosts of The AM Show at Newshub in New Zealand. @NewshubNZ @TheAMShowNZ.  Looking for solutions / options and not tossing out blame.  #PursuitReductionTech and more driving training WILL help @Pursuit4Change @PursuitResponse


Police not to blame for pursuit deaths – union

Dan Satherley

Between October 2016 and September last year, seven deaths and 552 crashes were recorded out of around 3600 pursuits.

The Police Association says police aren’t to blame for the deaths of three people in a pursuit that ended in a crash on Sunday.

Around 5:40am, police tried to stop a car in Richmond, south of Nelson. A six-kilometre chase ended in tragedy when the fleeing vehicle crossed the centre line, crashing into a vehicle coming the other way.

“You never overtake on the top of Burke’s Bank because you can’t see what’s on the other side,” Tasman District Mayor Richard Kempthorne told The AM Show on Monday.

Two of the dead were in the fleeing vehicle, the third a member of the public. Police Association president Chris Cahill told The AM Show police can’t be held responsible for the deaths.

“It isn’t the police chasing that’s causing these deaths – it’s the manner of the driving and the people failing to stop. They are the people responsible – not the police officers.”

The tragedy has renewed discussion on whether the rules around police pursuits should be tightened, or if they should be abandoned altogether.

Between October 2016 and September last year, seven deaths and 552 crashes were recorded out of around 3600 pursuits.

Det Insp Cahill said the existing rules are “very strict”.

“When a pursuit or fleeing driver incident starts, you immediately have to call through to the communications centre. They take control of the decision-making – you explain the conditions on the road, the speed, the amount of traffic, also that the reason the fleeing driver has taken off in the first place. “The communicator in the comms centre is the decision-maker as to whether that continues or not.

“It takes it away from the police officer in the car who may get tunnel vision, who may have the adrenalin rush going on.”

Police have continually update the comms person on what’s happening. They wouldn’t back a ban on pursuits without “considerable research” first, but doubt it would work.

Det Insp Cahill says Queensland’s restrictive rules on pursuits have resulted in “a lot of young people racing around all over the show, thinking they can get away with it”.

“Do you really think it would be safe just to let people drive on the roads at any speed they want, as drunk as they want, and the police are just going to wave them by? I don’t think the public would let that happen.”

And previous experiments in New Zealand haven’t worked either, he says.

“They started driving the wrong way down the motorway, things like that, ramming into police vehicles, knowing the police would stop. We need to be really careful thinking a ban would be all our answers.”

Det Insp Cahill says penalties need to be increased for drivers who fail to stop.

“If you’re drink driving and you know you’re going to get no further penalty if you fail to stop, what’s the incentive to stop? You need to know if you don’t stop your car is going to be taken… you’re going to face terms of imprisonment.”

Mr Kempthorne says he backs the police, saying the blame lies with those fleeing.

“I don’t want to be disrespectful for any family or friends involved, but we’ve got to be really aware some driver behaviour on the road is really bad.”

National Party leader Simon Bridges said he’s interested to see the evidence on police chases, and is interested in what other jurisdictions have tried.

“Instinctively, I’m with the police. I don’t think you can have a situation, it would be really bad if they can’t actually make sure that people stop when they’re pursuing them. People should stop,” he told The AM Show.

“If you say police should never do this, what happens then? Does that mean everyone thinks, ‘Well, I’m not stopping. I’m gonna keep on going.'”

The road toll so far this year stands at 77 – nine more than at the same point in 2016, which was a much deadlier year on the roads than 2015.


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