Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mayor Provides Update on High-Speed Police Pursuits

Mayor Dwight C. Jones made the following statements today during his update on the high-speed police pursuits review:

“I want to acknowledge the dedication of our law enforcement officials as they put their lives on the line daily in the interest of public safety. I want us all to be mindful that law enforcement officers are faced with making split-second decisions each day.

“Today's topic, the High-Speed Pursuit Policy Review, is as important to the residents of the city as it is to the officers themselves. Making sure that we have improved upon policies and procedures is in the utmost interest of any officer involved in a high-speed pursuit.

“We cannot loose sight of the fact that it is the person that flees that creates the problem of high-speed police pursuits. But the fact is that we can't control the behavior of one who chooses to flee, so we must be assured that we have policies and procedures that allow for appropriate and proper law enforcement while protecting public safety.

“The tragic accident in March which led to the death of Apostle Anthony Taylor is what prompted my call for a review of Richmond's police pursuit polices, as well as a review of existing guidelines across jurisdictional boundaries. Since calling for this review, a series of discussions and meetings have taken place that brings us to where we are today. Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover, Virginia Commonwealth University and the Virginia State Police have all been involved in this review and all of these jurisdictions have pursuit policies that meet state and national accreditation standards.

“I want to report several positive outcomes as a result of the called review:

The Regional Pursuit Policy which was authored in 2003 is being reviewed and updated.
A formalized review process has been put in place, so that such reviews of the regional policy will be ongoing.
Regional agency pursuit data will be collected centrally - Hanover has agreed to act as the hub for data collection.
That data will be analyzed annually to use as a best practices and as an informational tool.
The distance for notification between jurisdictions if a check point is set up (for DUI, Safety, or Informational) has been increased from a one mile to a two mile radius.
Communications have been improved over the "Pursuit Channel" to ensure that systems are compatible.
More hands-on-training is being planned, behind the wheel training as opposed to only classroom training.
Regional resources will be shared to provide for this enhanced training. Chesterfield has a driver safety course that is near completion that will be a huge asset to the region as far as training is concerned.

“The jurisdictions will continue to have dialogue and on-going meetings with a view toward taking a multi-pronged approach. For example, legislative remedies need to be looked at as individuals who flee may need to be faced with stiffer penalties. Some data suggest that revoking a license may not be as effective a deterrent as we need and perhaps civil forfeiture should come into play.

“These are things that need to be looked at that will help act as deterrents and help work against unintended tragedies happening in the future. Today, I am confident that the enhanced dialogue that has come about as a result of this review is in the best interest of the public's safety.

“I want to thank all of the jurisdictions involved for their contribution to this effort over the past several weeks.”

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