The cost of high-speed chases:
The innocent keep burying their loved ones

by Beverly Malvestuto of Fresno

A letter sent to Senator Sam Aanestad, Senator Charles Poochigian,
Assembly member Steve Samuelian and Fresno Sheriff Richard Pierce

June 6, 2003 -- This week a young widow buried her husband. All of their hopes and dreams for a future together are gone. In the blink of an eye, they were shattered. I don't pretend to know how Heather Lancaster feels, anymore than I can really know my sister's pain a year and half after her 15-year-old daughter was killed when their family van was hit by a teenage girl running from the police. My sister will never get over the pain of losing her daughter, but she is channeling her grief to try and prevent this same tragedy from happening to other families.

State Senator Sam Aanestad is sponsoring Senate Bill 982 that he hopes will make police pursuit policies the same throughout the state. Before introducing the bill, he would like to meet with law-enforcement officials to discuss the bill and get their input on what they think will make pursuits safer. In memory of my niece, the bill is being called "Kristie's Law." Contact your state representatives and encourage them to vote for the bill when it is re-introduced in January of 2004.

In the Fresno Bee article the day after Fresno Sheriff Deputy Josh Lancaster was killed, Sheriff Richard Pierce said, "Very few pursuits can be justified if public safety is put at risk."

Now Sheriff Pierce, I'm going to issue a challenge to you. If you truly believe those words, and you would like to do everything possible to ensure that you do not lose another deputy this way, please contact Senator Aanestad (916.445.3353) and pledge your support to work with him on this issue. Help him to write a bill that will let the police do their jobs, and at the same time, protect the police and innocent bystanders. Maybe then Kristie and Deputy Lancaster will not have died in vain.