Police Department Reevaluates Police Chases and Causes of High-Speed Car Accidents in St. Louis

Police Department Reevaluates Police Chases and Causes of High-Speed Car Accidents in St. Louis

The St. Louis County Police Department could make history, as it could be the first department in the U.S. to allow voters to determine when officers can pursue vehicles. Current policy only allows officers to pursue a vehicle that is the suspect of a crime in which deadly force was involved. Under this policy, only about a dozen police chases are administered each year.

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Unfortunately, many of these high-speed police chases end with serious car accidents in St. Louisand elsewhere throughout Missouri. Since officers can best analyze a situation to determine when a chase should begin, voter’s opinions will only be taken into consideration when constructing the new policy, according to St. Louis Today.

Our Missouri car accident attorneys understand that Tim Fitch, the St. Louis County Police Chief, is looking to get approval from police commissioners by the start of next year. He is hoping they approve a new policy that allows his officers to pursue those involved in first-degree burglary cases and drunken driving suspects.

“People are tired of being victims and say, ‘What do you mean you let them go?'” Fitch said.

Some remain opposed to the change, saying that a significant amount of research needs to be completed before this change takes effect as it could pose serious liability risks to innocent motorists and residents in the area.

Ironically, members of the public voiced their concerns about when officers recently neglected to pursue a number of car break-ins and the suspects in the copper-theft ring that took place in Pasadena Hills. After concerns from local residents, Fitch recruited the help of Mark DeBarr and Timothy Maher from the University of Missouri-St. Louis to conduct a survey to hear what the residents had to say about the policy. About half of the participants said that they would like officers to pursue those who are suspects of all property crimes. Fitch disagrees with these findings, but sympathizes with the frustration of residents.

One finding of the study pointed out that about 80 percent of residents were in support of chasing drunk drivers, but only as fast as the speed limit allows.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 400 people are killed in the U.S. every year as a result of police chases.

Fitch says that a great majority of the public supports all types of police chases no matter what speeds are required. He also says that the department’s top concern is to keep everyone safe on our roadways. He doesn’t want the chases to create any more of a dangerous situation.

Current rules allow an officer to pull behind a driver that they expect to be impaired, flash the vehicle’s warning light and set off the siren. If the vehicle doesn’t pull over, officers are alerted to terminate the pursuit.

Speed will not necessarily be a factor in the cases or will be limited to a first-degree burglary. Officers would like to pursue those who they feel are guilty of a crime that is bold enough to be considered dangerous.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Missouri car accident, contact St. Louis Injury Lawyer Ryan R. Cox for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 636-946-6886.

Additional Resources:

St. Louis County police might ease chase restrictions after polling, by Christine Byers

More Blog Entries:

Governors Highway Safety Association Targets Distracted Driving Car Accidents in Missouri, St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer Blog, July 27, 2011

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Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC

Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC is a litigation law firm that represents individuals and families in serious personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout Missouri. We help people who have been injured in all types of accidents—including car or truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and much more. Whether your injury is something that can cause long-term issues like a brain injury or spinal cord injury, or it is something you’ll likely make a full recovery from, we are here to help.

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