Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mayor Jones Invites Regional Leaders to Discuss High Speed Police Pursuits Across Jurisdictional Lines

The following letter was sent to Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover leaders:

Perhaps the most important thing we do as leaders of our respective jurisdictions is to ensure the public’s safety. We are all aware of last week’s tragedy in Richmond’s East End. In light of this situation involving a high-speed police pursuit which crossed jurisdictional lines, I am writing to invite you to a meeting to address concerns that have arisen.

Since the beginning of my Administration, I have extended the hand of regional cooperation and collaboration. Because crime has no boundaries, keeping our communities safe requires that we address it as one region, while being mindful of the unique circumstances that we each must manage in our separate localities. With respect to high speed police pursuits, the City of Richmond has a concentration of narrow streets, lots of pedestrians, compact residential areas, and areas where the line of sight is limited, and as such, the potential for accidents during such pursuits is heightened.

While I have begun the process of reviewing Richmond’s police pursuit policies, I also believe it is important that we, as a region, discuss existing guidelines for incoming vehicle pursuits
to determine if there are changes that should be implemented for the improved safety and protection of our neighborhoods and communities.

I have received some preliminary information from our Chief Administrative Officer, Byron C. Marshall, who has already been in touch with the County administrators in Chesterfield and Henrico. What is clear from our early review is that there are several issues to review and discuss, including:

• Guidelines for communication with and notification to a neighboring locality when checkpoints are near a jurisdictional line,
• Guidelines for setting up and staffing checkpoints when near a jurisdictional line,
• Guidelines for circumstances that warrant high-speed regional pursuits that cross a jurisdictional line,
• Guidelines for maximum speeds in compact residential areas, and
• Guidelines for ending a pursuit that crosses a jurisdictional line.

While this most recent tragedy occurred in Richmond, it could have just as easily happened in Chesterfield, Henrico, or Hanover. Given the importance of this issue - both immediately and on-going - I believe the most productive way we can review these serious concerns is to establish a review task force to report its findings within two weeks. In addition, it may be appropriate for the task force to periodically review our policies and to continue to find ways to serve our residents in a more effective way.

I look forward to meeting with you in the coming days and have asked Mr. Marshall to coordinate the meeting. It is my hope that this review will lead to necessary and useful information for all jurisdictions involved for the betterment of our communities.

Sincerely,

Dwight C. Jones