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Are police pursuits worth the crash risks?

Like many New Yorkers, you probably want law enforcement to go after the bad guys, particularly when they are considered dangerous. However, according to the Democrat and Chronicle, a high-speed chase often turns vehicles into deadly weapons, as well, and anyone nearby could be injured or killed. In fact, statistics indicate that between two and nine people are killed every year in New York as a result of these pursuits.

The results of independent investigations suggest that this data has been significantly underestimated. For example, injury chases are not included in the numbers. So, if you had a family member who was injured by a vehicle fleeing the scene of a crime, but he or she was hospitalized and died some time after the initial incident was reported, this death would not be included in the statistics.

In spite of the dangers, the decision to pursue a suspect immediately lies almost solely with the officer, initially. This judgment call should always include weighing the possibilities of a traffic crash and your safety as a bystander against the threat caused by the current crime and risk of future crimes. If the person fleeing may be violent, the officer may decide putting that person out of action takes precedence.

No federal or state law dictates how the circumstances of a chase should unfold, although your local law enforcement department probably has very strict protocol about when to let a fleeing vehicle go. This information about the risks you may encounter from a police chase is educational in nature, and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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