In February, a South Salt Lake, Ut., police officer attempted to pull over a stolen Jeep Cherokee. The driver jumped a curb and sped off. The officer didn’t go after the man. His department’s policy allows chases only if the suspect is wanted for violent crimes. An officer from a nearby town did join the pursuit, speeding through a red light and killing a driver. The officer now is charged with negligent homicide, says the Salt Lake Tribune.
Most police agencies in Salt Lake County allow officers to chase fleeing cars only if the suspect is wanted for a violent felony, such as murder, robbery, or aggravated assault. Chasing a suspected car thief is not worth the risk, supporters of the policy say. Department with more aggressive chase practices disagree. Of 68 police chases last year in West Valley City, Ut., 54 – or about 80 percent – ended in an arrest. Taylorsville officers nabbed a suspect in 35 of their 47 chases last year, or about three out of four times. “You can’t send a message that you can come into West Valley and commit a crime, and just by the sheer fact that you elude an officer, you’re not going to be apprehended,” said an assistant chief.