A California Republican law-and-order legislator, unhappy about a police chase that ended in the death of a teenage girl, wants to make police more accountable for high-speed pursuits, says the Los Angeles Times. A similar measure by Democrats died last year after lobbying from law enforcement unions. “The way we’re reading this, it will effectively shut down pursuits,” said Det. Aaron Maready, president of the police union in Redding, Calif. Sen. Sam Aanestad would limit police chases to cases in which the public faces “imminent peril” if a suspect gets away. It would open police to civil lawsuits if they disregarded the new statewide standard and someone were killed or injured.
Police and their lobbyists want to kill it, saying that the legislature should not dictate police actions for something as unpredictable as a chase. They believe the threat of civil lawsuits would hamper their ability to make quick decisions without fear of ending up in court.
Just introducing the measure has prompted threats of political retaliation against Aanestad. Maready, the Redding detective, said he might form a coalition of police unions and work to unseat Aanestad in 2006.
The legislation would “create an enormous liability for law enforcement agencies throughout the state,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said. “It attempts to address and impose many restrictions upon extremely complex, dynamic and unpredictable events.” Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer, a Democrat, warned in a letter to Aanestad that police would “fail to pursue criminals because of the worry of [lawsuits] for not following the very detailed procedures in your measure.”