Crime commission to study police pursuits

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A state panel is beginning the long process of possibly re-inventing the way police chases take place in Virginia.

Two hours into a meeting with the Virginia State Crime Commission and other top cops, Col. Henry Stanley of Henrico was defending his department.

"We didn't cause that accident," Stanley said.

The "accident" happened the night of March 24, when Apostle Anthony Taylor of Richmond was killed accidentally...caught in the middle of a Henrico police pursuit involving another man. But today's meeting wasn't about Henrico. It was about Virginia, as a whole.

"I think the policy was followed. And as you mentioned earlier, how do you get the message to the guy who just hasn't got it?" Stanley said.

The message would be that police pursuits are dangerous, even deadly. And those who try to run away might make a bad situation, much worse.

"Fleeing from a police officer and driving a car is very similar to taking a firearm and firing it into a crowd of people. It is that serious," said Col. Thierry DuPuis, the Chief of Police for Chesterfield County.

So lawmakers and law enforcement are asking the question: What needs to be done differently? Some suggested taking away the vehicle of anybody who flees the police. And most in the room supported a new statewide policy for when to chase and when not to.

"We don't need any other deaths as a result of these kind of pursuits. Something that can be controlled, something that can be prevented," said Del. Delores McQuinn (D – Richmond).

The Crime Commission generates ideas and then recommends policy to the General Assembly. A new policy, if created, would not be proposed until 2011 at the earliest.

Also today, law enforcement rejected an idea to create a uniform, statewide policy on when to use lights and sirens. Police leaders want to choose when and where to use lights and sirens, depending on the type of emergency response.

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