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FBI disagrees with NZ government over police chases

FBI disagrees with NZ government over police chases

Police chases for minor offences are dangerous and generally unnecessary, says the American Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A 2010 FBI report says breaking off the pursuit of a fleeing vehicle has very few negative consequences for crime-fighting.

Multiple studies, quoted by the FBI, show that once suspects realise they're no longer being chased; they tend to slow down to normal driving speeds and therefore become far less of a risk.

The FBI report also categorically rejected the argument that abandoning police chases meant ‘giving in’ to offenders.

According to the FBI:

“Most pursuits are for minor offences [and] research has shown that if the police refrain from chasing all offenders or terminate their pursuits, no significant increase in the number of suspects who flee would occur.”

Safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson, who edits the car review website, dogandlemon.com, also wants the police to abandon most car chases.

“Comments by the police minister, that young people need to be reminded of the devastating consequences of fleeing police, suggest the minister doesn’t understand basic medical science.”

“These are kids. They don’t think; that’s the point; their brains haven’t developed sufficiently to make rational decisions.”

"Young drivers who try and flee police get a rush of adrenaline and just take off at high speed. However, the police who are pursuing a fleeing car shouldn’t allow a similar rush of adrenaline to replace their own sound judgment.”

“The police have other options: they can use surveillance cameras, helicopters, road spikes, or simply notify other police cars and quietly pursue the fleeing vehicle at a distance.”

In Tasmania, Australia, police chases for minor offences are banned. Police in Tasmania say the ban has not stopped them catching criminals.

Assistant Commissioner Donna Adams of the Tasmanian Police told Metro magazine that the Police, who initially opposed the ban on car chases, now strongly support it.

Assistant Commissioner Adams said that while police could still pursue vehicles for serious crimes in progress, such as robbery or murder, “they’re very few and far between.”

Adams added that the ban has not impacted on enforcement of laws. People aren't drink-driving or nicking vehicles with impunity, she says, because they're still getting caught.

A former police officer told Metro that police sometimes lie about car chases. “It becomes an intensely personal battle between the chasing officer and the offender,” he said.

The former officer recalled one chase through a built-up area where he was travelling at up to 90km/h, but reported that he was doing only 50-60km/h.

The former officer was equally sceptical of police claims that pursuits had been called off just before a crash.

“We lied to keep going because no cop wants to lose an offender.”

Matthew-Wilson adds:

“These fleeing drivers aren’t going to stop and think what they’re doing, so it’s up to the police to use their heads instead.”

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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