Advocates working to change police pursuit policies
Posted: Jun 30, 2016 9:29 PM CDT
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) –Thousands of bystanders and passengers have been killed since the 1980s in high-speed police chases.
One of those happened last week in Murfreesboro when a mother of two was killed instantly when the suspect rammed into her car.
Now her family is wanting to know why her life was taken for a stolen car.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police conducted a survey on thousands of chases nationally. They found 92 percent of pursuits began for a traffic violation, misdemeanor or non-violent felonies.
“I got involved in this in 2007 when my son was killed. I was boggled. I just couldn’t believe the number of them,” said Jonathan Farris, the founder of Pursuit for Change.
It often takes tragedy to bring to light the dangers of high-speed police chases.
“This should have never happened. This right here should have never happened,” said Mildred Parker, Jessica Campos’ mother.
Campos was killed in Murfreesboro when a suspect hit her after a more than 30-mile chase over a stolen car.
“It’s that cross jurisdictional issue, but someone gave me the number and it’s close to 19,000 law enforcement agencies, and they all have different policies,” Farris said.
Farris lost his son, Paul, in a city that has essentially a no pursuit policy, but the pursuit began in another county.
“My son and his girlfriend were in the backseat of a taxi. That taxi came to the intersection and the perpetrator was in an SUV and just t-boned them. Literally lifted the taxi up and threw it onto a sidewalk,” Farris said.
The chase started over an illegal U-turn.
“That’s when I lost it and decided I need to figure out why this is happening, how it’s happening, and so that’s when I started tracking pursuits,” Farris said.
He found that they are happening too often and for non-violent crimes.
Farris is working for federal regulations making pursuit policies consistent and for violent felonies only.
“No one has done anything with high-speed pursuits for the last 20 years,” said Trevor Fischbach, president of StarChase.
Fischbach is working to develop technology so police don’t have to chase at all.
“It’s mounted to the patrol car,” he said.
It may look like an Inspector Gadget car, but StarChase allows police officers to launch a GPS device onto a suspect’s car.
Statistic show it works, allowing police to track the suspects without having to use high speeds and putting others’ lives at risk. However, it does come with a price tag.
“Today we hear these stories and some are obviously much more tragic than others and this is definitely a tragic one. That is why we are working so hard to provide this technology to agencies,” Fischbach said.
Right now about 100 police agencies are using StarChase, none in Tennessee.
To get involved with Pursuit for Change, click here to visit their website. There is also a petition to help get new legislation enacted.
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