In a crazy quilt of conflicting, uncoordinated police pursuit policies in more than 60 departments across a six-county, two-state Kansas City metropolitan area, there have been more than 700 pursuit-related crashes in a decade, say data analyzed by the Hale Center for Journalism and The Kansas City Star. Those crashes killed at least 23 people, and injured hundreds more, including at least 11 police officers.
Standardizing pursuit policies would “absolutely cut down on deaths and injuries,” said Geoffrey Alpert, a police pursuit expert at the University of South Carolina. It rarely happens, he says, because local police chiefs can't agree on what those policies should be and are often under political pressure to keep their own individual policies. Kris Turnbow, former Raytown, Mo., chief of police, said it's time. “Now is the time for us to put a regionwide policy in place,” Turnbow said. We should do it now, he said, because of recent improvements that allow area police departments to better communicate with one another. The area needs a common policy leaning toward pursuits that are limited to serious crimes such as violent felonies, Turnbow said.