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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Cop Killers 

Police chases make for great TV and even better fatal accidents ... typically of the driver making a 'getaway' but also of, well, anyone else who happens to get in the way or generally has the misfortune to be in the vicinity. NZ Police chases actually make a handy contribution to the road toll ... yes, that's right, the actions of the boys in blue (and many of them are no more than boys) culminated in 10 deaths on the roads last year. That's 2.7% of the 364 fatalities in 2003 - well done lads. Now I've nothing against you starting a chase, but really, it's not like they can escape over the county line. If they run, and run fast, just take a note of the licence plates and go round to their houses (or, more likely, their mother's houses) the next day and arrest the dangerous little fuckers.

But no, the cops enjoy the thrill of the chase in their Aussie rear wheel drives, and the resulting accidents are never their fault: like this one, this one, and that one. For crying out loud, does anyone really trust the cops to investigate themeselves? Let's get a civilian review board for these cases - it's not rocket science.

We might not have much sympathy for those who run, but what about the innocent pedestrians and motorists whose deaths police chases are contributing to in a fairly predictable and imminently avoidable manner?

Right, after this little rant I expect a couple of Dunedin's finest at my door step with a warrant to search the place ... or they could just invoke the Misuse of Drugs Act as a pretext, like always.

Comments:
I agree with you sometimes, but in this case the Police were doing all they could. They'd warned this idiot about this 1 1/2 hours ago, he was disqualified anyway, he'd just been through a red light at over twice the limit, and he probably didn't know he was being chased anyway.

In this one case, the world / West Auckland is clearly a better place.
 
I remember there was an 'independent' type inquiry involving Chris Amon? amongst others.

They concluded that there was a culture of cowboyism amongst police drivers when it came to car chases and that often they would continue to chase vehicles even after they had riadioed HQ that they had called the chase off.

Might be worth trying to dig that report up.
 
Look, I totally agree that there is a problem of a Police intimidating bully – boy racer culture out there that has led to several crashes that did not need to occur.

However, in this most recent case, it is hard to think of an example where the Police could have been less at fault. The chances are he didn’t even realize he was being chased; he was a complete menace, a suicide in waiting, and it is not fair to blame the Police at all.

To assume blindly that all Police pursuit fatal crashes are the fault of the Police weakens the serious argument of when they are culpable.
 
Fair point, see moan - in the latest case it does look like no blame whatsoever can be apportioned to the police, although again it's a case of taking the cops' word for it.

I also take the point about the need to distinguish between those cases where no reasonable blame can be apportioned to the cops, and those where an element of cowboyism may have contributed. It's the latter that pisses me off. I'm just not altogether confident this distinction can be made so long as all we ever hear about are internal police investigations.

And of course the road toll would almost certainly be higher if police *didn't* chase people ... the question is, when should they back off?
 
See moan I'm not saying that all police chases are out of order. You seemed to jump a bit far to that conclusion. I'm just mentioning something I remember reading.

I'm going to have to dig it up now.
 
december 22 in the herald last year was the report I'm talking about. Though I'm sure I read more about it than is mentioned there.

Have to keep looking.

I can't link to the article above because I'm on a school computer which doesn't have a proper address bar, but you'll find it in 10 seconds if you do a search at the hearlds online site.
 
Re-read what I said more carefuly.

I'm saying that using last week's incident as an example of the wider argument detracts from that argument.
 
There are genuine incidents to aid your point, but last weeks is not one. The lad involved was disqualified, not belted, and hooning in a new car apparently (according to his dad) given to him by his boss. There's a few factors brought on himself that mean the fault doesn't seem to be at the Police end. Those who knew he didn't have a license should stop shovelling blame.

As for chases, if the car is stolen then you can't track it. If there are too many exit points, you can't block. if the Police let them go, they get bollocked for being ineffective. If RFID tags or Satellite tracking were compulsory, people cry Big Brother (perhaps justifably).

Remote engine immobilisers would be possible, with complaints no doubt. Another option, requiring legislation, as all these would, is simply to make it illegal to have a public vehicle able to exceed 120 kph. Enough to allow for an emergency manouver. If the speed limit is 100, why is it legal? I imagine the trade-off in lives and injury is outweighed by income from fines and other motor vehicle revenue.

The end result is a giant catch 22. There is no magic solution that a voting public would be happy with so the best I can hope for is that the stupid don't take innocent down with them. That applies to both the police and the pursued.
 
Seemoan: "Re-read what I said more carefuly.

I'm saying that using last week's incident as an example of the wider argument detracts from that argument."

I never did use last weeks incident as an example of any wider problem. I simply said that I remember reading about a report which said there was a problem with police chases in general.

That's it pure and simple.

Your initial reply was to dc_red, not me (which was the post above your reply) I take it, which is where I got confused.
 
Oh, and "anonymous", you have pretty much summed the whole argument up perfectly. Well done.

At the end of the day it has to come down to a judgement call from the police. It's also up to them to keep tinkering with chase policies, rules, guidelines, whatevers until they get the best results possible.

I know that as a result of the report last year there were new guidelines implemented. Does anybody know what they were or care to dig em' up?
 

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