Compromise on Kristie’s Law

Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, continues to champion the effort to get Kristie’s Law on the books, and for that we commend him. This week he held a joint press conference in the Capitol press office with Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, and the mother of Kristie Priano, a 15-year-old girl killed three years ago during a local police pursuit.

The law would greatly curtail the police in this state from conducting vehicle chases. Priano’s parents have turned their grieving for their child into a crusade to stop police pursuits.

This week local TV news picked up the feed from the Sacramento press conference and broadcast it on the early and late evening news shows. Along with the tape from the news conference, Northern California News also aired for dramatic effect file footage of a white SUV—presumably stolen and leading police on a chase—careening out of control.

The problem is that the incident the law is based on was not a high-speed chase, as depicted by its supporters and the local TV news. Investigation into the crash that killed Kristie Priano indicated the chase through a residential neighborhood was low-speed and under control, at least by the cops.

We feel for the Prianos; losing a child is an unthinkable tragedy. But we have to agree with Chico Police Chief Bruce Hagerty and most of the chiefs of police across the state: Eliminating the option of officers to chase suspected criminals is bad policy.

“The message I want to convey is safer pursuit policies are possible and should be actively implemented and adhered to,” said Aanestad at the press conference. “This hearing is an open-door invitation to law enforcement and public safety experts to help us craft legislation that everyone can support.”

We trust a compromise can be reached.