After three deadly police cruiser accidents in the past five years, the Wichita Police Department is asking the public to report officers who are speeding without lights and sirens or driving unsafely, reports the city’s Eagle. Police policy says officers can speed only if they have activated their lights and sirens, which are reserved for certain emergencies. The rest of the time, police are supposed to obey the speed limit — even when responding to calls. In reality, they speed. “We know that officers speed, we don't like it, and we will aggressively pursue officers that are speeding,” said Lt. Doug Nolte, a department spokesman.
Since 2007, three people in Wichita have been killed in accidents with officers who were allegedly speeding and did not have their lights and sirens on. The city has paid out $500,000 to settle two lawsuits. A third lawsuit, filed in December, is pending. In that case, a police car going without lights and sirens to a burglary in progress last Feb. 12 hit and fatally injured Suhani Bhakta, 12, as she darted across a street near her home. Under department policy, a burglary doesn't call for lights and sirens. The department limits the use of lights and sirens because it can distract motorists and officers and cause accidents, Nolte said. Lights and sirens aren't always effective because sometimes motorists don't see, hear or heed the equipment, he said.