April 12, 2004—It's pretty common knowledge that if you commit a crime, and run from the police, they're going to follow you, and almost every time, you're going to get caught.
"It's very difficult to outrun a police radio and helicopter."
Still, chases can often involve dozens of patrol cars.
"Whenever we feel it's becoming too dangerous for the public, we can terminate the chase," says Sgt. Dennis Graham, Palm Springs Police.
But sometimes that doesn't happen fast enough. Take a chase last November in Desert Hot Springs. It didn't end until the suspect slammed into another car, killing an innocent driver.
State Senator Sam Aanestad of Northern California says he wants to bring those kinds of chases to a screeching halt. Senator Aanestad says he hopes this new law will put responsibility of safety in car chases squarely on the shoulders of police officers.
If the new law passes, for the first time, a police department could be sued if it acts inappropriately in a chase [if the officer does not follow his/her pursuit policy].
The law would ban all police chases, unless the public faces "imminent peril" if the suspect gets away. But what constitutes imminent peril?It's something that legislators say could be left up to lawyers.
Some state police have come out against the bill. But local police say even if it does pass, it won't stop them from catching the bad guys.
"We can put out a warrant for their arrest, we can pick them up at their home, they have families in the area and will usually be caught," says Cpl. Dennis Gutierrez, Riverside County Sheriffs. For now, scenes like these will continue. Whether the state legislature puts the brakes on police chases could be decided before this session is over.
Copyrighted article reprinted with permission.