A Los Angeles City Council committee backs a police department move to change the rules governing when police officers can use a squad car’s lights and sirens to speed through traffic, reports the Los Angeles Times. When dispatched to an emergency, officers respond “Code 3” — a status that under state law allows them to break traffic laws as long as they use their lights and siren and show regard for the safety of other drivers.
Los Angeles long has followed an unusually strict policy that, in general, only one patrol car per emergency is dispatched Code 3. To skirt the rules, officers commonly drove “Code 2 1/2 ,” an off-the-books practice of racing to a call without lights or sirens to warn other drivers. The unsanctioned practice has been responsible for some of the worst officer-involved traffic collisions, costing the city more than $11 million since 2006. The new policy would give officers in the field the discretion to decide whether to respond Code 3. Opposition to the new policy was led by Councilman Bernard Parks, a former police chief who raised concerns that it would lead to chaotic situations on city streets and more accidents.