Thursday, September 1, 2011

Metro Police give green light to stealing cars

Another stupid idea in law enforcement is coming to Indianapolis:
The chase that ended in the deaths Tuesday of two suspected car thieves would have been banned under a new vehicle pursuit policy under review by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
Chief Paul Ciesielski said Wednesday that the new policy would allow officers to chase only violent suspects who are an immediate threat. Currently, police can pursue any motorist who flees, regardless of what they did.
Critics of chases say they put police officers, offenders and innocent bystanders at risk.
"The advantages of a new policy would be that it takes into account the safety of our officers and meets our moral and ethical obligation to keep citizens safe," Ciesielski said.

Ciesielski, who favors the new policy, said there is no time frame for deciding whether to adopt it.
The disclosure follows a fatal accident in which two teenagers fleeing police were killed after a three-minute chase on the Westside. Brandon Palmer, 19, and his passenger, D'airres Hightower, 15, were in a Chevrolet Trailblazer that had been reported stolen at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
You'll forgive me if I don't shed any tears over the deaths of two car thieves in the course of their chosen profession.
Police chases in Indiana have been controversial for years because of the potential for death or injury. A 2005 analysis of police chases by The Indianapolis Star found that 86 people died in chases in Indiana from 1993 through 2003.
And whose fault is that? The suspects, not the police.
The analysis also found that about three-quarters of 947 chases in Indiana in 2003 and 2005 were prompted by traffic violations or "suspicious" vehicles or occupants.
One of the easiest ways to catch a criminal is to pull them over for a traffic violation.  Not anymore, under this (idiotic) new policy.
Under current policy, IMPD officers are allowed to chase a motorist for any infraction. But they also have the option of giving up a chase if they think it is too dangerous. Supervisors also can call off a chase.
"It comes down to using good judgment and weighing several factors," Ciesielski said.
A growing number of cities nationwide have adopted more restrictive policies. Typical of such policies is that of St. Louis County, Mo., which allows pursuits only in felony cases that involve the use of deadly force and there is a chance the suspect will cause death or injury if not immediately captured.
Rick Eckhard, a spokesman for St. Louis County police, said its officers would not have chased a car thief.
"They would have followed it and radioed in the description and direction but would not pursue it," he said.
And how's that policy workin' out for ya, St. Louis?  Has it helped you shed your title as Most Dangerous City in the US?  Or did it perhaps help give you that title in the first place?

And why exactly is Public Safety Director Dr. Frank Straub copying crime fighting tactics from The Most Dangerous City in the US? Isn't that like taking foreign policy advice from Jimmy Carter?  Quarterbacking advice from JaMarcus Russell?

The proposed policy could face some opposition, however. William Owensby, the president of the Indianapolis chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, said a more restrictive policy would be "surrendering."
"It wouldn't be very popular because you are allowing criminals to go free," he said. "Fleeing police is a felony."
He added that Palmer could have pulled over.
"The Police Department didn't make them crash. They did," Owensby said. "They stole a car and fled from police."
Duh! A voice of reason that counts for nothing in Frank Straub in Wonderland.  Though I'm just eyeballing it, the commenters to the Star's story seem to also oppose the new policy.  Overwhelmingly.  But this is Frank Straub in Wonderland.
IMPD Training Academy Deputy Chief Lloyd Crowe said officers have other ways to catch offenders who don't pose an immediate threat.
"With the advancement of law enforcement technology, we have the ability to make apprehensions without relying on pursuits," he said.
Such as ...?  If the suspect knows you're not going to chase him, he's more likely to run.  So, if you find him, he will run.  But since you can't chase him, he will escape.  Until you find him again, if that time comes.  Then he runs again, knowing you can't chase him.  Lather. Rinse.  Repeat.
So, Dr. Straub and Chief Cisielski, at what point does actually apprehending the suspect enter into the equation?  You know, apprehending the suspect for the purpose of not only trying him for his crime but making sure he doesn't hurt anyone else again?

Indianapolis is cutting police to help fund the Super Bowl that Indianapolis residents did not want.  Now you want to give those same reduced police more work to track down suspects they won't be able to catch because police aren't allowed to chase them.  Brilliant!

Geoffrey Alpert, a criminal justice professor at the University of South Carolina, agreed, saying it requires only a little more "gumshoe police work" to catch fleeing suspects.
"It's not worth the risk to chase a guy in a stolen car," said Alpert, who has studied police chases for 25 years and consults with departments on changing their policies. "By turning away, they get the person they're chasing to slow down."
Translation: law enforcement doesn't care about stolen cars.  According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2009, nationally, only 12.4 percent of car thefts were cleared," either by arrests or by exceptional means." That's actually down from 12.6 percent in 2006 that were cleared "by arrests."

I've had a car stolen.  From Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.  The Pittsburgh Police officers who came for us cared about our plight, but they made clear that their superiors did not.  Fortunately, they found our car five hours later.  Stripped.  Gotta compliment their efficiency, as most stolen cars are never recovered.  Also fortunately, insurance paid to put him -- a 1981 Firebird Formula 400-- back together.  To the best of our knowledge, the thief was never found.

You never get over something like that.  You don't feel safe anywhere.  Except in your house.

And I lost even that with the burglary of my house.

It seems like the higher up one goes in law enforcement, the less they care about the plight of the people they are supposed to protect.  They care about issues that get media attention, but not that actually protect people.  Police chases get media attention.  While police chases are effective at catching criminals, they can generate negative media.  Dr. Straub has shown in the past that he will not make that tradeoff.

In Frank Straub in Wonderland, he and his henchman Chief Cisielski just redefine thieves as "not dangerous."  See? These guys just steal cars and stuff.  Dr. Straub and his friends don't care about that, and neither should you.  You're only losing stuff you worked hard for and may not be able to ever replace, as well as losing your peace of mind.

Well, you shouldn't lose your peace of mind.  Because your possibly irreplaceable car may be gone forever and the people who stole it in the wind, ready, willing and able to steal again, but at least Frank Straub will avoid the bad press of a police chase.

And, dammit, what could be more important than that?


  1. This is a crazy policy. It gives a green light to people to violate the law. The police won't chase after all. I think a better idea is to leave it to the decision of the officer involved, not announce a general policy that gives people an incentive to flee.

  2. Just another example of politicians' actions contradicting their language. Tough on crime doesn't translate into reality.

  3. Oh, it's far worse than you think, Jedna.

    The new chase policy shows IMPD doesn't care about getting your stolen property back, but they do care about prostitution. Remember the stories about their crackdown on prostitutes ahead of the Super Bowl.