Another police chase fatality

Deaths as a consequence of police chases (more accurately as a result of dangerous driving trying to avoid being apprehended) have been contentious. Each incident raises questions over whether police should get involved in chases at all.

More so when an innocent member of the public is a victim, as happened over the weekend.

RNZ: Three dead in Tasman police chase

Police had attempted to stop a vehicle while conducting enquiries to find a wanted person when the driver fled.

The driver crashed into another vehicle while attempting to overtake a truck, police said.

Two people in the fleeing car died along with a member of the public in another car.

Tragic for the innocent victim and their family.

Police said fleeing incidents were “extremely testing”.

“They are fast-moving, unpredictable and high pressure situations that require quick judgements.”

Police Minister Stuart Nash said the crash was a tragedy for the families of those who died, and the officers involved.

He said police were already working with the IPCA on a review of pursuit policies and practices, and he had asked for an update on progress.

The review is due to be completed later this year.

I’m sure the police have reviewed their chase procedures before.

The current review was reported last November: Police pursuits under review as officers report 300 incidents a month

New Zealand Police and the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) have been working together since July to review pursuits.

About nine drivers a day attempted to flee police last year.

Although fleeing driver events represented just 0.1 per cent of vehicle stops each year, police said they were “challenging, dynamic and complex events”.

“Drivers who choose to undertake high-risk driving behaviour when failing to stop for police increase the risk to themselves and the public, including the risk of serious injury or fatality.”

In June, the Police Association sought harsher punishments for fleeing drivers, including taking their cars off them.

I’m not sure that harsher penalties will reduce the number of people attempting to flee the police. I doubt that they pause to consider the possible consequences – or know what the penalties might be. There are obvious risks of crashing and of dying, and that doesn’t deter those who flee.

This is an issue that there is no easy answer to.

35 Comments

  1. Trevors_Elbow

     /  March 12, 2018

    If you flee, and a death results, then it should be a statutory offence that results in a manslaughter charge with a 30 year no parole sentence. With no defense available – you do it, its proved you did it – jail ensures.

    No plea bargain, no fancy lawyer splitting/manipulating of facts about state of mind, bad childhood, [insert random excuse for outlaw behaviour here] etc etc etc

    The people responsible for the carnage that occasional ensues from fail to stop incidents are those driving the car that flees – not the Police, not the State, no cultural imperialism, not PCSD, etc. The driver of the fleeing car has the choice and the consequence should rest heavily with them.

    Anyone fleeing the Police or failing to stop – 10 years, no parole. You do, its proved you did – again Statutory sentence from which there is No plea bargain, no fancy lawyer splitting/manipulating of facts about state of mind, bad childhood, [insert random excuse for outlaw behaviour here] etc etc etc

    Now harden up and punish these pricks harshly and thoroughly. Innocent people lose their lives because dickheads think is coooool to be an outlaw. Well showing them the hard, cold face of justice then – make it as coool as can be in a nice small cell.

    Enough wannabe Crips/Bloods/Mobsters/gansters etc locked up for long stretches will make it all far less glamourous to run from the law

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 12, 2018

      We don’t have plea bargaining in NZ anyway, that’s America. It’s illegal here.

  2. Gezza

     /  March 12, 2018

    I always feel for the police in this situation. Fleeing drivers are often wanted crims, & many of tbese drivers are young gangstas or wannabes reported to be in stolen cars. Just letting them go without attempting to stop them will probably just encourage even more car thefts & other crimes using stolen cars. It’s a horrible situation getting told your stolen car’s been located but that the thieves have destroyed it.

    It won’t make it any better for the grieving rellies of the fleeing drivers or their innocent victims to know the police aren’t responsible for their deaths – but the fact is they aren’t. The fleeing drivers are.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  March 12, 2018

      The police are jointly responsible if their actions contributed. Denial of that is futile.

      • Gezza

         /  March 12, 2018

        I didn’t read they told the driver to run for it & drive dangerously so they could have fun chasing them. Nor that they crashed into the vehicles & killed these people.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  March 12, 2018

          I read that the pursuit was still in progress when the pursued car crashed. The culprits made the choice to run and the police made the choice to pursue. Both had choices. Simple as that.

    • NOEL

       /  March 12, 2018

      Google “stolen car” with “police pursuit nz” and you will be scrolling for a while.
      Steal a car and any offence you commit associated with that car, should automaticcaly be doubled at sentencing.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  March 12, 2018

        The police are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. They don’t and some lunatic who thinks he’s an action star screeches around at 200kph and, if the public is lucky, only kills or injures themselves. If some innocent person gets in the way, there will be people asking why the police let this happen and not chasing the criminal.

        They do, the lunatic kills someone and this is also the police’s fault for having a chase.

  3. unitedtribes2

     /  March 12, 2018

    If every driver and car was electronically monitored there wouldn’t be any need to chase. A text could be sent to the offender telling them them to be in court. Then a warrant can be issued because they don’t turn up. When they have them in court they can issue them a summons when they are to appear for a hearing. Then at the hearing they can issue a date for the case. Then they can issue another warrant because they don’t turn up. Then they can eventually have the case but this will be suspended because the legal aid refuses to act for the offender any more. Then the case can be dropped because of insufficient evidence.
    Just telling a story about a chap who sort of works for me. Thats when he’s not going back and forth to court

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 12, 2018

      The expense would be immense and pointless as the majority of drivers are not thieves or lunatic speedsters.

  4. Zedd

     /  March 12, 2018

    I heard a comment that, instead of chasing ‘fleeing drivers’ they should ‘fire a tracking tag’ into the car (GPS technology).. then it can be traced by Police after the chase is called off, rather than risk such harm to members of public; surely this outdated ‘over zealous police chase’ strategy is passed its useby date ? 😦

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  March 12, 2018

      Agreed, Zedd. Seems to be a pigheaded refusal to look for alternatives to killing people. Supported by the likes of Gezza.

      • Gezza

         /  March 12, 2018

        That one’s lower than a snake’s belly Alan.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  March 12, 2018

          On target, Sir Gerald.

          • Gezza

             /  March 12, 2018

            No it’s not. It’s off target. You’re allowing your dislike of police to smear them with an accusation they’re killing people. Find me a case where the police in NZ have rammed into someone’s car & killed them. Or crawl back under that one-lane bridge.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  March 12, 2018

              That’s just brain-dead stupid, Sir G. The problem is deaths during police chases, not anywhere else. Other jurisdictions have banned them with consequential savings of lives. Is that too difficult to understand?

            • Gezza

               /  March 12, 2018

              Evidence.

            • Gezza

               /  March 12, 2018

              That’s just brain-dead stupid, Sir G. The problem is deaths during police chases, not anywhere else.
              Who was driving the car that crashed & killed these people Alan?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  March 12, 2018

              Who has a plan to avoid killing innocents, Gezza? Not you for sure.

            • Gezza

               /  March 12, 2018

              So, Alan –

              1. You think when these drivers that run from the police, they say, “Excuse me, officer, I really need to be somewhere else right now”, indicate, wait till the road’s clear, pull out & putter away, at the speed limit, slowing down for pedestrians, stopping at stop signs, giving way at give way signs – and then hit 120 when they get onto the motorway?

              And

              2. Are you saying that when the police see or hear of speeding drivers, dangerously driving, overtaking on blind corners, driving on the wrong side of the road, and/or weaving across the centre line etc they should just demurely follow them along & wait until they stop for a pee, or gas, or a bite to eat & a coffee? If yes, in this situation – back under that bridge please. If not – in this case – why not?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  March 12, 2018

              And how many innocent people do you think it is worth killing to stop that?

            • Gezza

               /  March 12, 2018

              Questions 1 & 2 please Al.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  March 12, 2018

              Read my link and stop b.s.ing.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  March 12, 2018

        Queensland are looking at reversing the no-pursuit policy over there are criminals are “mocking the police” and arrest rates have fallen.

        In the last year Queensland Police statistics obtained between March 2016 and April 2017 indicated that 5,871 police evasion offences were recorded, breaking down to nearly 113 offences weekly.

        Those figures show a staggering 29 percent increase on the previous year’s figure of 4,554 and has prompted Queensland Police Union boss Ian Leavers to urge the Palaszczuk Government to abolish the no pursuit policy giving cops the freedom to chase.

        Mr Leavers ripped into the policy, suggesting it was the wrong course of action to take with the current situation impractical.

        ‘These stats which have risen more than threefold over the last year clearly show the current ‘no pursuits policy’ for police is a dismal failure and should be consigned to the wastepaper bin,’ Mr Leavers told The Courier Mail.

        Mr Leaver believes that public knowledge of the policy gives an element of freedom to drivers who can flee from officers at will, knowing they won’t be chased.

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4588578/Police-union-chief-calls-scrap-no-pursuit-policy.html

    • Gezza

       /  March 12, 2018

      Traced to where it was abandoned, you mean. You seriously think the police are all going to running around looking for a car while someone in control is telling them – oh hey GPS shows minutes ago it was ramming into a service station?

  5. Pickled Possum

     /  March 12, 2018

    Why don’t the police do the bump and run or the PIT Pursuit Intervention Technique?

  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  March 12, 2018

    In this case the perps were a thoroughly nasty pair of crims: https://i.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/102178160/passenger-in-nelson-triple-fatal-had-previously-killed-teen-in-crash

    There has to be a better way of catching them than killing innocents in the process.

    • Gezza

       /  March 12, 2018

      Talk to Corky.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  March 12, 2018

        They would if they could, I am sure. They don’t have risky pursuits because they can think of no better way.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  March 12, 2018

          How did that happen ? It was meant for Possum..