Region meets to update police chase policy

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Richmond leaders say a regional set of guidelines for police chases is close to being finished. Chiefs and government officials from across Greater Richmond wrapped up a series of meetings today following the death of a Church Hill pastor after a police pursuit last March.

They met more than an hour at City Hall. Henrico, Chesterfield, VCU, state police, and Richmond leaders were all on hand. While no major changes to the pursuit policy were announced, it appears the region is focused on doing a better job of communicating with each other.

The death of a prominent Richmond pastor marked the beginning of a new debate in Richmond: high speed police pursuits.

"We all want a resolution. We all want to fine tune this so we don't have to be here again, and talk about these kinds of things, or at least to be sure that we're working together," said Mayor Dwight Jones.

The region had a police chase policy in place from 2003, but it was never signed by the localities. Today, efforts were made to update that policy and execute it.

"What we're looking to do is to make sure that's continued. That every year we review that same policy and see if there are new best practices out there that we can adopt," said Richmond Police Chief Bryan Norwood.

The group has decided all information on future police pursuits will be put in a database in Hanover County to be analyzed each year; looking for trends and ways to improve the policy. The regional policy will also be reviewed every year. Police now have to notify each other when setting up a checkpoint within two miles of a boundary. There are no plans at this time to outright ban chases in Richmond like other major cities have done.

"I think the consensus that was reached is that you have to look at these on a case by case basis. And it's based upon the set of circumstances that the officer was presented with at that time," said Byron Marshall, Richmond Chief Administration Officer.

And money will be spent on more hands on training behind the wheel for officers.

"We try to emphasize the decision making process so that the officers have the tools on their tool belts to make these decision in real time," said Norwood.

Now the regional policy is not finalized yet, but the mayor says that will happen soon, and he expects more meetings in the future could lead to new ideas for the policy.

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