After reading about a police chase in Atlanta yesterday that resulted in serious injuries to the fleeing man, as well as a recent Atlanta crash that killed two people and injured a child, I got to thinking about incredibly dangerous police chases are, to law enforcement, the drivers involved, the people running from the law, and the general public.
Some statistics related to police chases and crashes
According to the non-profit group Pursuit Safety:
- 35-40 percent of all vehicular police pursuits end in a collision;
- crashes as a result of drivers fleeing from police kill one person a day;
- More than 1/3 of people killed are innocent bystanders;
- One officer is killed in a pursuit every six to eight weeks;
- 91.4% of all chases are for non-violent crimes.
How does Georgia law address police chases and their aftermath?
Georgia Law O.C.G.A. § 40-6-6(d)(2) is intended to protect the rights of innocent motorists who could be injured or killed during a high-speed police pursuit. The key question is whether the police properly weighed the need to immediately apprehend the suspect against the danger presented by the pursuit itself. Should law enforcement pursue a traffic violator or non-violent offender at high speeds when the suspect is not inherently dangerous? Is it worth the life of an innocent person to capture a traffic offender?
Georgia police chases should be undertaken only when immediate danger is presented
I understand that if the region's police departments revise their pursuit policies to only engage with the most dangerous offenders, as opposed to non-violent ones, that more drivers will choose to flee, knowing they will not be chased. But I believe that this policy change would greatly improve the safety of Georgia's roadways, and that this safety improvement is worth it.
There are other ways to capture criminals than speeding through Atlanta's neighborhoods, putting our residents at great risk.