Are Police Chases Worth the Risk?
Are Police Chases Worth the Risk?

Between 1979 and 2014, 100 people have been killed as a result of police chases in Riverside County— the 10th deadliest U.S. county for police pursuits. Of the fatalities, roughly half were passengers or bystanders who weren’t responsible for the chase.

These numbers beg the question: are police chases worth it? According to police, only 7% of local chases are in pursuit of known violent suspects. Moreover, a Desert Sun investigation revealed that a minor offense prompts the majority of chases. However, most of these chases end with an arrest for a more serious charge.

Reasons Behind Police Chases can be Complex

When police catch the fleeing suspects, they arrest 13% for violent crimes or illegal weapons. Another 16% face charges for DUI. Others face violations for traffic violations, drug-related charges and property crimes. But even with these numbers, the reasons behind a pursuit are not always clear-cut. Suppose an officer suspects a driver of committing an armed robbery. He might not have probable cause to pull the driver over for that offense, so he attempts a traffic stop for a broken tail light. If the driver flees, the officer can pursue him, and eventually charge him with the robbery if the investigation pans out.

Even so, innocent people remain at risk whenever a pursuit occurs. Making matters more complex is a 1987 California law that leaves police departments immune to civil liability suits if they have a written pursuit policy—regardless of whether the officers involved follow the policy. As a result, those who lose innocent loved ones in these incidents sometimes have few options for seeking justice.

Fortunately, reform is slowly but surely occurring. Since 2011, Coachella Valley police have become five times more likely to call off potentially dangerous chases. Police officers now abandon one in four chases.  

“Our firm strongly supports those who serve in local law enforcement. We’re encouraged by the decrease in police chases for minor offenses, and we trust officers will continue to use their best judgment concerning the proper method for apprehending criminals,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.  

Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured in an auto accident and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, and Yucca Valley and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.

DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.

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