A day after a Pittsburgh police chase that started with a traffic stop ended in a crash that left a 12-year-old critically injured and four others hurt, Police Chief Cameron McLay ordered officers to initiate pursuits only if they believe a violent felony occurred, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The policy on motor vehicle pursuits is undergoing a “full review,” McLay told police personnel yesterday. “Regrettably, too many instances occur where our police pursuits create greater danger to the public than the violations we are seeking to address through enforcement.”
While the policy is under review, officers “shall not engage in a motor vehicle pursuit for traffic violations only,” he said. The chase that ended in a crash Sunday started after police saw a car “speed through an intersection without making an attempt to stop at the stop sign,” public safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler said. McLay's order brings the bureau up to speed with progressive and “good” departments nationwide, said Geoffrey Alpert, an expert on police pursuits and a criminology professor at the University of South Carolina. “It will reduce pursuits by 70 to 80 percent, save lives and prevent property damage,” he said. “Obviously, this wouldn't have happened yesterday if they had the policy.” Elizabeth Pittinger of the Citizen Police Review Board called the order long overdue.