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Police chases that weren't

by Candy Priano

September 23, 2006—This headline, now in the plural, is from the Berkeley Daily Planet and reflects a new trend happening in the reporting of police vehicular pursuits. The article that accompanied this headline was written by J. Douglas Allen-Taylor: "It would seem that Oakland police have begun to develop the uncanny ability to see a driver violate a traffic law, follow as the driver speeds away, either observe the ensuing crash from a distance or miss the crash altogether, and arrive just in time to either capture the suspect or secure the offending vehicle." The complete article is right here.

June 16, 2007— A Washington Post Editorial wants " Facts, Please." Right after the fatal crash that killed two blameless people, police told reporters that an officer was chasing a motorcyclist ... The next day, the Prince George's Country PD would not confirm for a Post reporter that the cruiser was even chasing the motorcycle. Additional stories on this crash and a link the complete editorial are right here.

It's hard to understand why law enforcement representatives change their story. Witnesses in the first news stories about these crashes don't change their stories. Here are some thoughts on this topic:

  1. Stories of innocent people killed or injured in police chases for minor offenses are a public relations nightmare for law enforcement.
  2. Over the last several years, the public is beginning to question the cost and benefit of these chases, especially with today's technology.
  3. Legislation to restrict — not ban — chases is putting pressure on law enforcement to keep the number of deaths and injuries to the innocent as minimal as possible, even it means not being forthright with the media and not reporting fatalities due to pursuit crashes.

More articles on this topic:

Cousins Michelle Benevedes (left), 39, and Racquel Akau, 38, Waimanalo, Jan. 20, 2007

A growing memorial for victims

Deadly combination: DWI and Police Chase

Two Killed in Waimanalo Crash

Waimanalo crash victims identified; youth arrested
Honolulu Advertiser

Controversy as families mourn

Some witnesses reported hearing sirens and seeing flashing blue lights shortly before the accident.

Several neighbors reported that the SUV was being chased by police down Kalaniana'ole Highway in the Hawaii Kai direction. However, police said today there was no pursuit prior to the accident.

Residents said they saw as many as three police cars on the scene almost immediately.

HPD Denies Police Pursuit Caused Deadly Crash

Witnesses believe police were chasing a SUV on Kalaniana'ole Highway in Waimanalo before it crashed, killing two women. On Monday, HPD responded to the witness accounts.

Family grieves mother killed in crash

Landis Police said Rigo Martinez was driving erratically Tuesday and a Kannapolis police officer was trying to catch up with him when he crossed the center line on North Main Street in Landis, hitting Newman head on. Witnesses to the crash said this was a high-speed police chase but police deny that saying they were simply trying to pull him over for some traffic violations. Read the rest of the story, right here.

Police investigate role in crash by KAREN RIVEDAL
September 19, 2006—
Investigators on Monday interviewed a man who said the pursuit may not have happened the way police reported.

Archived stories

Read about how this deadly crash was first reported as a high-speed chase and later reported that it was a "suspected police chase" that killed three people, click here

. Read about a similar controversy in Washington, D.C., where a chase killed two children, click here.


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