MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – People in Minneapolis are running from the police. A lot.
In fact, the number of police pursuits has risen a dramatic 25 percent between 2016 and 2018.
So now, after more and more of these high-speed pursuits have ended in injuries and even deaths, some officials are looking to implement a new policy on when officers give chase.
Assistant Police Chief Mike Kjos was called ‘one of the biggest champions of the proposed change,’ reportedly firing off an angry email to the department last winter after a string of dangerous pursuits. In the email, he told officers that they should only engage in pursuit of suspects who have committed the most serious of offenses.
“In my opinion, there’s not a large number of crimes, or types of crimes, that warrant pursuing unless there’s some sort of danger to the public,” said Assistant Chief Kjos.
If the proposed changes in policy take effect, officers will need to make a judgement call each time a suspect flees. The question is, will this lead to more people running from the police?
Suspects and police aren’t the only ones at risk when the police give chase.
Roxxanne O’Brien’s car was totaled during a police pursuit of a drug suspect two years ago in Minneapolis. The chase ended when the suspect crashed into a line of parked cars, including hers.
An officer at the scene reportedly asked if O’Brien was glad that they had made a quick arrest. But O’Brien said she was less concerned about the successful apprehension and far more upset about her car being damaged.
“I’m shocked that he doesn’t see how I couldn’t see the positive in that moment,” she said. She received a check from the city, but she claimed she spent more on Uber and Lyft rides as a way to get around without her car.
Severe injuries and deaths are also a nasty side effect of these dangerous pursuits.
The Star Tribune reported that last summer, a man fleeing officers crashed into a Minneapolis playground, severely injuring three children who were playing there.
Then in May, a 27-year-old man who ran away from authorities after an alleged drug deal crashed into a sedan driven by Jose Angel Madrid Salcidio, who later died.
At the beginning of June, a judge sentenced Dayquan Hodge to more than 32 years in prison for stealing a car last September and leading the State Patrol on a chase through south Minneapolis, reaching speeds of up to 105 miles an hour, before smashing into a pickup truck outside a bar, killing three people.
It should be noted that about 28% of pursuits ended in a crash during the time studied. That figure then rises to 37% in cases where the car was stolen. Possibly, experts say, because car thieves may drive a stolen vehicle a lot more recklessly than their own.
The current policy says that officers are approved to chase a suspect in a homicide, rape or other violent felony. It notes they need to continuously weigh the need and desire for apprehension against the risk to safety. Those who put others at risk by giving unnecessary chase could be subject to punishment.
Changing technology is also giving authorities a new advantage when it comes to tracking down suspects. The StarChase system allows deployable GPS trackers to be fired into the bumper of a vehicle, giving the exact location of the vehicle that was being or would have been pursued. License plate readers can also be used to identify and track a vehicle.
So… would this new policy give criminals a “free pass”? Or would the new changes bolster the safety of the public and officers?