Crime Commission endorses statewide police chase policy

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

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Multiple high profile police chases prompt the Virginia State Crime Commission to outline a statewide police chase policy.

The Commission met Wednesday for the final time before next year's General Assembly session, and after months of debate, members decided what a statewide police chase policy should look like.

In 2008, a Fairfax woman died when a police officer -chasing a shoplifter- ran a red light with no siren on. Ever since then, the victim's mother, Cynthia Colasanto, has advocated for change.

Wednesday, that change moved forward at the Virginia State Crime Commission. Members endorsed a bill that would require the police to stop at red lights or stop signs, unless their siren is on.

"In my daughter's memory, and for the safety of saving other lives and people, it's been worth every minute of it," Colasanto said.

The movement for a statewide police chase policy gained further momentum earlier this year, when Apostle Anthony Taylor of Richmond was killed by a high speed chase in his Church Hill neighborhood.

In that case, the crash that killed Apostle Taylor wasn't caused by police. It was caused by the suspect's vehicle. The Crime Commission can't predict what suspects will do, but it can change what happens after they're caught.

As an additional punishment, members endorsed the idea of seizing the vehicle of anyone arrested and convicted of trying to flee the police. They also advocated for more training on when it's appropriate to stop a chase.

The recommendations were met with near unanimous approval.

"I think that's what most chiefs and sheriffs want. They want their people to get there safely, so they can  help the people they're trying to help," said Gerald Massengill, a former State Police superintendent, and member of the Crime Commission.

In other actions, the Commission voted to make it possible for more people to obtain a protective order when they feel they're in harm's way. Members also voted to outlaw synthetic marijuana, known as "Spice" or "K-2".

The recommendations move on now to the General Assembly, which will decide if they become law.

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