After reading about a
police chase in Atlanta yesterday that resulted in serious injuries to the fleeing man, as well as a recent
Atlanta crash that
killed two people and injured a child, I got to thinking about incredibly dangerous police chases are, to law
enforcement, the drivers involved, the people running from the law, and
the general public.
Some statistics related to police chases and crashes
According to the non-profit group
- 35-40 percent of all vehicular police pursuits end in a collision;
- crashes as a result of drivers fleeing from police kill one person a day;
- More than 1/3 of people killed are innocent bystanders;
- One officer is killed in a pursuit every six to eight weeks;
- 91.4% of all chases are for non-violent crimes.
In a great article by
USA Today, at least 11,506 people, including 6,300 fleeing suspects, were killed
in police chases from 1979 through 2013, most recent year for which
NHTSA records are available.
How does Georgia law address police chases and their aftermath?
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-6(d)(2) is intended to protect the rights of innocent motorists who could be injured
or killed during a high-speed police pursuit. The key question is whether
the police properly weighed the need to immediately apprehend the suspect
against the danger presented by the pursuit itself. Should law enforcement
pursue a traffic violator or non-violent offender at high speeds when
the suspect is not inherently dangerous? Is it worth the life of an innocent
person to capture a traffic offender?
Georgia police chases should be undertaken only when immediate danger is presented
I understand that if the region's police departments revise their pursuit
policies to only engage with the most dangerous offenders, as opposed
to non-violent ones, that more drivers will choose to flee, knowing they
will not be chased. But I believe that this policy change would greatly
improve the safety of Georgia's roadways, and that this safety improvement
is worth it.
There are other ways to capture criminals than speeding through Atlanta's
neighborhoods, putting our residents at great risk.