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By: Sara Brochstein
The City of Atlanta Police Department has announced that its officers will no longer engage in vehicular pursuits while it takes time to review its pursuit policies. This decision comes in the face of recent deadly crashes where suspects in stolen vehicles struck and killed motorists while fleeing police pursuits.
Police pursuits have often been the subject of controversy as the risks and benefits are constantly being weighed. On one hand, pursuits have the potential to put innocent pedestrians and motorists in harm’s way. In situations where the crime or violation is minor, the risk is even more unjustified. Conversely, to disengage in pursuits altogether signals to people that arrest can be avoided by evading the police in vehicles. This certainly has the potential lead to an increase in crime as Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields acknowledged when announcing the City’s change in position.
Notably, the City’s new policy is intended to only serve as an interim policy while the department “work[s] to identify specific personnel and certain specialized pursuit training to enable the department to conduct pursuits in limited instances.” However, as long as the no-pursuit policy remains in effect, the City of Atlanta may prove to be an instructive case study as to whether pursuits are worth the risk.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Sara Brochstein at [email protected].