Letter: Stiffen penalties for running from police

To the editor:

Jim Curry recently submitted a letter (Aug. 31) regarding a high-speed chase resulting in a crash and apprehension of the fleeing suspect. In his letter, Mr. Curry stated that the chase was over a “minor traffic violation.”

The “minor” violation he refers to was going 60 mph in a 35 mph zone. I would suggest that going 25 mph over the posted limit does not qualify as a “minor” violation. It does, in fact, qualify as reckless driving and by itself can result in an arrest.

He then states that a better alternative would be to take down the license plate number, let the driver speed away, then go by the man’s residence later and arrest him. That’s just fine, unless the motorcycle was stolen, in which case you’re showing up at the wrong address to arrest the wrong man.

Mr. Curry then addresses the young woman passenger whom he claims that, in a very real sense, is an innocent bystander in this situation. I totally agree with this. She was not the one breaking the law. However, he then states that if she had been injured or killed in the chase that ensued then the police would have been responsible for the death of this innocent person.

WRONG! The driver of the MOTORCYCLE is responsible for his passenger. For him to subject her to being a part of this incident was HIS decision. He made that decision when he fled police.

I would contend that if someone gets stopped for speeding then they will stop and accept whatever they get — a ticket or a warning. However, if they stop and they know that they could be subject to additional problems (outstanding warrant, DWI, suspended license, etc.) then they are more likely to flee from the police.

If they flee, it’s not a stretch for the police to assume speeding is not the biggest problem this subject is afraid of — thence, the chase. In the case Mr. Curry is referring to this driver was found to be under the influence of a controlled substance and thereby was in violation of a conditional license that he was driving under. So they were actually trying to get an impaired driver off the road and possibly prevent an accident that could’ve involved an innocent family like mine … or yours.

I am not a fan of high-speed chases, either, but not pursuing lawbreakers will just embolden them (and others) to flee in future cases if they know the police will not chase them.

What needs to be done is make the penalties higher for those that flee so that minor offenders are more likely to stop and those that continue to flee can be assumed to be a higher-risk offender and the police can act accordingly. We can agree there’s no perfect answer to this. I just believe that no pursuit at all is not it.

Oh, and to even suggest that police get involved in a high-speed chase just to shake the supposed 95 percent boredom of their job … please.

Doug Andrews