Councilman seeks more information on regional police pursuit policy

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

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The trial of Darryl Harris begins next Wednesday. He's the man accused of murder in the death of Pastor Anthony Taylor. Harris was fleeing a Henrico County Police checkpoint when he ran into Taylor. It happened in the narrow streets of Richmond's Church Hill.

The case sparked outrage and debate over police chases in greater Richmond. It also led to a meeting in May between Henrico, Chesterfield, VCU, State Police, and Richmond leaders. At the meeting the region, reaffirmed its commitment to a 2003 Regional Police Pursuit Policy. That policy has never been made public. We're told it's because most of the details in the document are tactical and could endanger officer or civilian lives if it was made public. But one council member says he doesn't buy that reasoning and wants to know what's in the policy.

In a City Council meeting on Tuesday, Richmond Police revealed more details about its rules for chasing suspects. Chief Bryan Norwood called the city's policy strong and stringent.

"We have limitation on speed in specific neighborhoods, on specific streets, and we have a hierarchy of events that need to take place in order to have approval for a pursuit," he said.

But, Councilman Marty Jewell says the public and the City Council should know what the rules are across the region for chasing after someone at high speeds. He questions why the policy is secret.

"My question is will council come to know what that is. Otherwise the whole exercise of doing it in secret wouldn't be necessary," said Jewell.

Chief Norwood offered to provide members with a report on the policy, but Jewell is taking it one step further. He's proposing that council pass a resolution, giving the Mayor's administration a two week deadline to provide a report on the regional policy and on proposed updates or changes.

"I'm concerned about the uniqueness that is Richmond, with our narrow streets, versus out in the county. And I'm concerned about our policy in regards to them coming into our jurisdiction," said Jewell.

NBC12 tried to obtain a copy of the policy, even a version with limited information, but we were denied.

Chief Norwood said at the meeting on Tuesday, "Our policy is well above standard. It meets the needs of this community and it is implemented daily within our police department."

Richmond's Chief said today, the regional policy continues to be closely examined and that a committee will eventually issue a final report on possible updates. No date has been set for that report and no word on whether it will be made public.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.