High speed pursuit has long been a fascination in this country. Running from the cops is practically a national tradition. Hell, NASCAR was basically founded on the back of prohibition-era runners. Every time there is a major police chase, it’s breaking news nationwide. The most recent of which involved an Arizona man running from the police in his Smart ForTwo.
According to news reports out of Phoenix, the man initially caught the attention of police by yelling in a WalMart parking lot. He then refused to talk to police, walked over to his Smart and drove away. Police followed the Smart out of the parking lot where they tried to pull him over for the crime of yelling in a WalMart parking lot, I guess. They then allege he ran “several stop lights” before jumping on Interstate 17 and eventually heading west on I-10 toward California.
While it wasn’t captured on the news, reports indicate that the police attempted to stop the Smart with car-on-car force and spike strips. Thankfully the streets were relatively empty as the world continues shelter-in-place tactics. With more innocent bystanders on the road, this could have ended in a much uglier fashion.
Thankfully, in this case, police eventually backed off and allowed the car to continue at a reasonable pace (the damn thing can only go 84 mph anyway), followed by the police helicopter. The chase was initially reported to have disbanded as the man continued on I-10, but later reports indicate the tiny car was pit-manuevered by police and the driver was arrested.
At least 416 people were killed as a result of police chases gone wrong in 2017, and that number includes innocent bystanders. In fact, nonprofit FairWarning estimates around 20% of police chase-related deaths are bystanders. Those who had committed a crime or were suspected of committing a crime, were precluded from their right to a fair trial, and their lives ended prematurely.
While police chases remain a fan favorite, the hard facts are that they are incredibly dangerous. Treating our public streets as some kind of perverse race course completely denies a police officer’s sworn duty to protect and serve. The streets are filled with variables which cannot be accounted for safely in a hot pursuit. The recklessness of these chases needs to end.
There was nothing indicating that the man in the Smart was a threat or a danger to anyone. Without interference from these overzealous officers, it’s entirely possible the Smart driver would have gone on the rest of the day without committing any traffic infractions. Spike strips and a pit-maneuver for allegedly running a red light? Give me a break.