A new policy aimed at cutting the number of police chases in Los Angeles has reduced the number by 62 percent this year, the Los Angeles Times reports. “LAPD officers are chasing fewer cars, and causing significantly fewer injuries to bystanders, suspects and themselves,” the Times says.
An American Civil Liberties Union official called the change “astounding,” and criminologist Geoffrey Alpert of the University of South Carolina noted that “Los Angeles has had the reputation as a department that would chase at the drop of a hat and until the wheels fell off.”
The policy, effective last January, prescribes more use of helicopters and allows officers to stop chases in minor cases. The Times says the police department conducted 76 chases in the first half of 2003, compared with 202 last year.
As the number of chases has dropped, so has television news coverage of the phenomenon, which a police official said gave Los Angeles the public image of a “circus atmosphere.”