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Letter to the Editor

Support smarter pursuits
Published in the Chico Enterprise-Record, March 07, 2004

Since my daughter Kristie was killed, 750 Americans have died in pursuits. Sadly, about half are officers and the innocent.

I agree, as does Kristie's Bill, with letter writer Tom Johnsen: Police need to pursue murderers, kidnappers, the really "bad people." Few chases are initiated for such offenses. Officers admit most pursuits are about chasing the "young and stupid." Progressive officers use safer techniques to catch nonviolent criminals and car thieves.

Florida Chief Steven Jones: "When we quit chasing stolen vehicles, our arrest and recovery rate went way up. Why? We thought out of the box.' No more chases, no more damaged cars, no more deaths."

Temecula Lt. Chris Davis: "It would have been a poor decision to continue the chase when we could identify the driver. Anytime driving conditions make the risk to the public greater than the need to apprehend the suspect, we'll discontinue the pursuit." Officers caught their suspect later. 

Chico police knew the "young and stupid" driver's identity before the pursuit. They knew she was not a murderer. Was she wrong? Absolutely. Had police followed policy (something not required by state law today), we would not be introducing legislation for safer/smarter pursuits because there would not have been a pursuit that night.  Kristie would be alive and the suspect would have been caught later.

Another myth: "If officers don't chase, 'someone else' might get killed." Kristie's death is real, unlike this "someone else" law enforcement officials keep telling me about.  Retired Washington State Police Chief Donald Van Blaricom addresses this myth: "There is no reason to believe a greater loss would occur from taking less risk. Citizens don't volunteer to be rolling roadblocks for police."

Candy Priano

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