21 Jan Police Chase in Bellefontaine Neighbors -1/20/21
There was another police chase today, this time in Bellefontaine Neighbors, which lead to one person getting killed and two other critically injured. It is a story we are hearing too often these days in Saint Louis. A bad guy commits a crime, gets involved in a police chase, often at high rates of speed, and it ends with innocent by-standers getting injured. The bad guy today entered into the intersection of Bellefontaine Road and Chain of Rocks and struck another vehicle, causing horrific injuries.
Is there a solution to stop the senseless injuries and death from police chases? Unfortunately, I do not have a solution but I do have some thoughts. On one hand, police departments like St. Ann have a strict policy of chase until the bad guy is caught. The idea behind the police chase is that if criminals know the police will back off, they will get more brazen in both perpetuating crimes and then fleeing. The problem with this rationale is it is typically executed at an “at all costs” approach. Here, certainly police and residents are interested in apprehending the suspect, who was wanted for first degree assault. However, does a police chase to catch this suspect warrant a death and two severely injured individuals, all of whom are NOT the suspect? People who were merely at the wrong place at the wrong time? Therein lies the issue.
Some of you know I had the privilege of representing a wonderful man who was injured by a police chase. His life was completely altered, leading to multiple fractures, life-long injuries, the inability to continue working as a mechanic, the loss of his house and car. All because he happened to be at the wrong intersection at the wrong time. Despite all these things, he was incredibly upbeat. This was a few years ago but I was assured by the attorney for the police department that they had policies and procedures they would be implementing to reduce the need for a police chase. Instead, more sophisticated technology would be utilized, such as tracking devices. It has been over three years and I am still waiting for a reduction in police chases, as well as the corresponding deaths and catastrophic injuries from those police chases.