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Editorial

January 2004—Qing Chang, a 25-year-old Chicago resident, began the new year of 2003 with brilliance and promise.  She held a bachelor's degree in computer science from Peking University in China, a master's degree in chemistry from the University of Chicago and a second master's degree in computer science from the University of Illinois. She maintained a perfect grade point average throughout her academic career. Chang had just accepted a work assignment with Thoughtworks as a Computer Programmer and was planning to relocate with her husband to London. Qing Chang was pregnant with her first child.

On January 2, 2003, at 6:05 p.m., Chang was standing on a street corner in downtown Chicago and was struck and killed by a get away car whose occupants were being pursued by police for stealing a wallet. Her small lifeless body was thrown 40 feet.

As tragic, unfortunate, and remarkable as this true-life scenario seems, it could be recounted hundreds of times over with equally tragic results surrounding police pursuits and the loss of innocent life.

Despite considerable work to develop policy and guidelines to restrict police pursuits, tragic events such as the one cited above continue to occur.  We must ask, "Why?"  For example, since 1993, the State of Illinois has issued statewide Model Policy and Guidelines on Police Pursuits and has reviewed and updated them annually, and, nevertheless, innocent people continue to die.

The collection of articles contained in this issue of the Forum represent current research and thought from practitioners and scholars addressing the troublesome public policy issue of police pursuit.

While police administrators throughout the nation take steps to implement policy and operational procedures to restrict police chases, state legislatures through the country must concurrently enact laws to increase penalties and consequences for citizens who would attempt to flee the police, to include such penalties as vehicle forfeiture.

The loss of Qing Chang, her child, and the potential of their lives cannot be underestimated and/or justified. While the police should not be held accountable for initiating the event that led to the death of Qing Change and her child, the police must nevertheless account for their actions in making the decision to pursue.

Thomas J. Jurkanin, PhD
Executive Director
Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board
 
 
 
 

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