Police chases are without a doubt one of the most dangerous aspects of a law enforcement officer’s job. Car accidents while on the job kill more police officers than shootings. They also kill a good number of innocent bystanders. These facts have led to many law enforcement agencies to enact pursuit policies. These policies address just when an officer can begin a pursuit, the conditions in which a pursuit can be continued, and when a pursuit must be called off. In general, most agencies only pursue those who are thought to have committed felonies or are thought to be a larger danger to the public than the chase would pose.
11 Alive reports that the Atlanta Police Department has made changes to their pursuit policy. On January 3rd, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields announced that the department would be adopting a “zero pursuit” policy, effective immediately.
In the letter addressing the announcement, Shields addressed that “the department is assuming an enormous amount of risk to the safety of the officers and the public with each pursuit, knowing that the judicial system is largely unresponsive to the actions of defendants.”
In February of 2019, Senate Bill 63 was introduced by Democratic Senator Gail Davenport. The bill would make it illegal for police officers to engage in a pursuit unless the suspect had committed or was in the process of committing certain crimes.
This bill came in the aftermath of a crash that happened in November of 2018 when a police officer crashed into a van while pursuing a suspect, killing three people. Another incident, which occurred in 2016, a grandmother and two small children were killed when a fleeing suspect crashed into their vehicle.
The family is currently suing both the Atlanta Police Department and the College Park Police Department, both of whom were involved in the pursuit.
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