For camera-ready pictures
of Kristie, click here.


 
  
One wonders when innocent victims of pursuit will be recognized
by both the public and law enforcement as crime victims and not "accident" fatalities.
I sent this letter to The Press Democrat
Not sure if it was ever published

What if it was your loved one?

Advocates for safer and smarter police pursuits face many obstacles. The two biggest ones are:  no one believes it will happen to them and pursuits are classified as "car accidents." 

In April, Teresa Tobner wrote, "only 1 percent of high-speed chases result in innocent people being hurt." 

Since Kristie Priano was killed in January 2002, 800 Americans have died in pursuits. Sadly, about half are officers and the innocent. 

If your innocent loved one became part of this 1 percent, would you just brush it off because the numbers were not high enough? And injuries—many are permanent and have escalated into the thousands: A baby's arm is severed, a little girl is paralyzed, a fathers face is burned off, an officer's face is burned off, a man's leg is severed, and many more emotional and physical scars will never heal.

On that Tuesday night when we were on our way to Kristie's basketball game, the last thing I thought was that my precious daughter would be killed in a preventable tragedy. Chico police knew the identity of the suspect before the pursuit.  They knew she was NOT a murderer, that she had taken her mother's car without permission. Was she wrong? Absolutely! Are we safer now that the police finally stopped her when she crashed into our van? No. Had all the officers involved followed policy -- something not required by California's state law on pursuits -- we would not be introducing legislation for safer/smarter pursuits.

Visit www.kristieslaw.org and read Senate Bill 1403 (formerly SB 1866). This web site also has quotes from law enforcement officers who favor restrictive pursuit policies because these policies save lives.  

The Supreme Court in Tennessee v. Garner established a model for accountability that prevents officers from shooting a nondangerous fleeing felon.

Despite arguments to the contrary -- the same ones being lodged against the immunity issue in SB1403 -- the safer firearm policy did not hamper the police or burden the courts. No one should expect anything less from this legislation if officers follow their stated policy.

Fleeing suspects don't care about our safety; that's why we are counting on law enforcement because when it comes to police pursuits, two wrongs do not make it right. They make it deadly.  

Candy Priano
Chico


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