Police Pursuit Rage: ‘If You Run, You’re Done’


AlterNet explores an overlooked pattern of what it calls “police pursuit rage” in a number of recent headline examples of law enforcement violence. Cases from Philadelphia to Baltimore to San Bernardino, Calif., seemed to spring from an officer's anger when a citizen had the audacity to flee, often in connection with minor allegations of lawbreaking. Many police officers can't resist a pursuit—on foot or in a patrol car—even though they've been schooled repeatedly on the narrow parameters for permissible chases.

“Just because they run from you doesn't justify you chasing them,” says Gregory Gilbertson, a former Atlanta cop who teaches at colleges in the Seattle area. “We should always remember that a certain segment of the American population has never had a good experience with a police officer.” It's impossible to know how many examples of police violence begin with pursuit rage since the U.S. declines to compile statistics on shootings and assaults by cops. As a result, no one can thoughtfully analyze the genesis of these events, much less make recommendations for how they can be minimized. But a growing record of anecdotal examples—many substantiated by police dash-cams or video shot by witnesses—suggests a pattern.

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