Sending wrong message on police chases

To chase, or not to chase?That is the question.

It’s a common dilemma facing police in Australia on a daily basis.

A would-be criminal makes a split second decision to evade police.

On many occasions, the perpetrator is eventually caught and charged with –among other things –dangerous driving and/or evading charges, plus any other alleged offences they may have committed prior to running.

Sadly, however, on rare occasions, those police chases turn deadly, often with disastrous outcomes for innocent bystanders who may get caught up in the bedlam.

Sometimes, it can also be the evader who becomes a fatality.

Any time someone is maimed or killed during a police pursuit, a cloud of suspicion and culpabilityfalls back upon the police involved, as well as the officer who gave the green light to the pursuit.

They will be subjected to reviews and investigations. Was it really necessary to initiate a pursuit?

It’s a fair question, surely?

Or is it?

Do we really want a situation where any would-be criminal knows that all he or she has to do is speed off into the distance with no chance whatsoever that a police officer will give chase because there are laws preventing them from doing so?

Of course not, so why do we continually question police officers merely trying to do their job of catching criminals?

The question was again raised in Canberra recently, when a mother told an inquest that her son did not ‘deserve to die for traffic offences’.

No he didn’t. But when Timothy Smith-Brown chose to evade police on September 4, 2015, he made a conscious decision to try to deliberately avoid capture.

Mr Smith-Brown died when he crashed his car an intersection. His passenger, girlfriend was seriously injured.

This situation was a tragedy – make no mistake about it. No one deserves to pay the ultimate price for this type of incident.

But the police involved in the chase shouldn’t be punished for doing their jobs either.

We entrust police to protect the innocent and to capture those who would do us harm.

No one could have foreseen the crash that claimed Mr Smith-Brown’s life.

But surely the police shouldn’t be held responsible either.

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