5,000 Bystanders, Passengers Have Died In Police Car Chases Since 1979


More than 5,000 bystanders and passengers have been killed in police car chases since 1979, and tens of thousands more were injured as officers pursued drivers at high speeds and in hazardous conditions, often for minor infractions, reports USA Today. The bystanders and the passengers in chased cars account for nearly half of all people killed in police pursuits from 1979 through 2013. Police chase tens of thousands of people each year, usually for traffic violations or misdemeanors, often causing drivers to speed away recklessly. Recent cases show the danger: A 25-year-old New Jersey man was killed July 18 by a driver police chased for running a red light; a 63-year-old Indianapolis grandmother was killed June 7 by a driver police chased four miles for shoplifting, and a 60-year-old federal worker was killed March 19 near Washington, D.C., by a driver police chased because his headlights were off.

Nearly every day, someone is killed during a high-speed chase between police and a suspect. Some police say drivers who flee are suspicious, and chasing them maintains law and order. “When crooks think they can do whatever they choose, that will just fester and foster more crimes,” said Milwaukee Police Detective Michael Crivello, president of the city’s police union. Many in law enforcement, including the Justice Department, have recognized the danger of high-speed chases and urge officers to avoid or abort pursuits that endanger pedestrians, nearby motorists or themselves. At least 139 police have been killed in chases, federal records show. “A pursuit is probably the most unique and dangerous job law enforcement can do,” said Tulsa Police Maj. Travis Yates, who runs a national pursuit-training academy.

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