Des Moines police chief tightening chase policy
DES MOINES (AP) — The Des Moines police chief wants to tighten her department’s policy for car chases.
Chief Judy Bradshaw told The Des Moines Register she wants to make sure any vehicle chases undertaken by her officers are worth the risks.
“You really have to weigh whether it is worth a potential life or injury for traffic charges,” she said Monday.
Bradshaw said she won’t ban chases, but she will tighten the rules regarding them. She wants to make it easier for officers and their supervisors to call off chases in dangerous situations. She said one possibility is the use of a code.
Sgt. Jason Halifax said officers currently call off chases through various methods over the radio, but a systematic code like the one Bradshaw recommended would be more efficient.
“It will shorten it, it will make it easier,” he told The Associated Press.
Under the current policy, Des Moines officers can chase a vehicle if its driver is suspected of a felony or poses a traffic danger to others. Other cities in Iowa, like Davenport, use car chases for more extraordinary circumstances, including in cases of gun crimes.
The newspaper reported that two people near Des Moines were killed earlier this year in separate incidents involving car chases, though they did not involve Des Moines police. The incidents put the use of car chases under scrutiny.
Bradshaw said there will be a priority to reiterate to cadets and training officers about when not to chase a car. A class of 28 cadets started Monday.
“We’re going to talk about not chasing at all costs,” she said.
The newspaper says its analysis shows Des Moines police engaged in nearly twice as many car chases during the first three months of 2013 than in the same quarter last year.