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Grand Jury Orders LA Cops To Quit Getting Into So Many Car Chases

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Anders Hagstrom Justice Reporter

A Los Angeles grand jury found Tuesday that the city’s cops get into too many car chases and have too little to show for it, with only two-thirds of last year’s 421 chases ending in captured suspects.

The jury claimed that high-speed chases are a perishable skill for police officers, and requested that the Los Angeles Police Department and Sheriff’s Department create a clear, updated code dictating which crimes justify an officer’s escalation to a high-speed chase and invest in better training programs for police officers.

“Is it worth putting lives at risk by traveling through urban areas at high speed to apprehend somebody who ran a red light? Or who failed to signal a turn?” the jury asked.

Analyzing statistics from 2006 to 2014, the jury found that 90 percent of chases were initiated following a non-violent crime and that, in last year’s 421 chases, three suspects were killed in pursuit, 45 suspects and officers were injured, and a 15-year-old boy was decapitated after being hit by a fleeing driver, the LA Times reported Tuesday.

Current policies are similar to what the jury recommended, but according to Capt. Scott Gage, who heads training for the LA Sheriff’s Department, additional training is necessary.

“The deputy has to see the erratic, dangerous driving prior to them even trying to stop the vehicle. Then, we’re gonna activate our lights and sirens, not just to stop the suspect, but as a duty to warn the public,” Gage told the Times. “Once we initiate, there is going to be a constant evaluation, if we’re going to cause the suspect to drive more erratically.”

The LAPD is currently under litigation for the 2015 death of a 15-year-old boy, Jack Phoenix, who was decapitated after being struck by a suspect fleeing officers in a stolen car.

The police department claimed that its officers were not in pursuit of the vehicle since they didn’t turn on their lights or sirens, but the officer and her partner followed the suspect at speeds upward of 60mph in a residential neighborhood, though they never attempted to stop the driver.

The LAPD has been pushing pursuit policy revisions for the last two years, but a police officers’ union has stalled negotiations, the Times reported.

Police said they are taking “every step to develop tactics to mitigate risk,” according to KPCC.

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