Police chase method is madness

Police chases don’t happen often, perhaps because most people aren’t willing to risk serious injury or death to avoid talking to the police. I suppose most people have some confidence in cops, and maybe that’s why more people don’t run from them.

I’d’ve thought that people who’ve done serious crimes are more likely to try to escape the police than, say, some guy with old parking tickets, since a rapist might expect to fare worse from his imminent contact with authority than the average scofflaw, although neither would look forward to an encounter with the police.

I’d’ve been wrong, though, because most people whom the police chase have never committed a violent crime. They just don’t want any contact with the police. Not that they haven’t violated some law or other, but their aversion to government agents apparently has mostly to do with their perceptions of the police and the kind of treatment they expect, whether those perceptions and expectations seem reasonable or not.

In January, Los Angeles County deputies chased Alisha Nicole Mankin at up to 90 mph. For more than two hours, many cars and officers pursued Mankin. I wonder what spike-laying trucks go for these days. What kind of mileage do you suppose one of those gets? There’s a way to save some money.

Some people want even trying to elude the police to be a felony with minimum prison time. That’s fashionably hard-nosed and seriously misguided, coming straight out of anger and fear. I see no reason to punish people for having a powerful will to live. Blind obedience to authority is useful only to authority.

The California Highway Patrol said Mankin had “numerous felony warrants at the time of her arrest,” related to “drug offenses and drunk driving.” My guess is that criminal masterminds don’t ride around much in U-Hauls and that we’d all be better off if the police had found something else to do and just ignored Mankin, who apparently has her own problems without the police.

Most police departments must have two-way radios by now, and the ones that don’t can buy some with their share of the fiscal bailout money. Rather than initiating an attention-getting high-speed chase—where even when somebody dies, it’s almost never the chaser—police could tell the other police which way the suspect was headed and keep track that way. They can probably do it online soon. After wasting all that money for manpower and equipment, the cops didn’t get Mankin until she ran out of gas anyway.

In 2002, 15-year-old Kristie Priano was killed in Chico when her family’s minivan was rammed by a teenage girl being pursued by police. The police knew the name and address of the girl they were chasing. They also knew that she was driving her mother’s car without permission. They didn’t have to do anything. Instead, they chased her until she ran into the Prianos’ minivan, and Kristie died.