Candy's message sent to Senator George Runner on June 1, 2005:
The Honorable Senator George Runner,
While I applaud your efforts and legislation to make the people who flee from the police pay, I wonder how the State of California will be able to enforce this legislation, especially if these people have no money? Please answer this question: How will your legislation make the people who flee pay? Your response will be posted at www.kristieslaw.org.
Also, with the certain passage of Law Enforcement's legislation for stricter penalties, these fleeing suspects will be sitting in jail, so again, how will they pay then? (The following comment in orange was not in my original email to Senator Runner: Actually, the changes in penalties in Law Enforcement's Bill are so minimal that they will not have a direct effect on Senator Runner's bill.)
Since your legislation, as does stricter penalties, come after the fact, do you support legislation that is a preventative measure, such as Kristie's Law? Our state leads the nation in the number of innocent people killed in pursuits because our state law allows officers to chase at all cost regardless of the crime and because officers are not held accountable when they fail to follow their own agency's pursuit policy.
My daughter, Kristie, was killed because the officers violated their own pursuit policy. One minute, Kristie Priano was a 15-year-old honor student laughing with her brother in the back seat of our minivan on the way to her high school basketball game. The next, she was one of hundreds who die each year across the nation in high-speed police pursuits, many of them innocent victims.
The driver who plowed into our van that night was a teenager who took her mother's car without permission. The chase occurred in a residential neighborhood. Senator Runner, there is no way ANYONE can reimburse me for Kristie's death. As your loved ones are to you, Kristie's life remains irreplaceable to me.
As an innocent victim of pursuit, I seek accountability from those who have been entrusted with the lives of every citizen in the state of California. Of course, I blame the teen for Kristie's death, but sadly and tragically, if the officers had followed their own pursuit policy, Kristie would be alive today.
I invite you to think about this issue in a different way, please visit www.kristieslaw.org and tell me what you think. Even if it does not change your mind about legislation that is preventative, you will gain invaluable knowledge with which to make your decision should you ever be given a chance to vote for Kristie's Law.
Thank you for serving all the citizens of California.
The Honorable Senator George Runner responds June 21, 2005:
I am profoundly sorry for your loss, and as the father of a teenage daughter I very much respect the work you are doing to try and prevent such tragedies from befalling other innocent victims.
I am aware of the legislation you are advocating with Senator Aanestad to prohibit law enforcement from initiating a pursuit unless there is reasonable suspicion that the individual has committed a violent felony.
While this is certainly an important issue to debate, SB 126 does not attempt to deal with the procedural aspect of when or who law enforcement should pursue. This bill simply recognizes that pursuits are sometimes necessary, and it is reasonable to require criminals that wreak havoc on our roads to reimburse public agencies for some of their costs. I would also like to note that the bill specifies that no public agency will receive reimbursement until any potential victims receive restitution.
In addition, while I recognize that many of these scofflaws probably don't have the financial resources to reimburse law enforcement, there is certainly a percentage that do. For these individuals, I think the bill is worth the effort. The legislation also states that any reimbursement will have to be approved by a judge, who will have the ability to take into account a person's ability to pay.
George C. Runner, Jr.