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Missouri deadly police chase near 2014 fatal pursuit

June 12, 2018

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — A recent police chase in Independence that left four people dead occurred along the same street as a pursuit that killed a man four years ago.

The June 1 crash resulted from Independence police pursuing a reported stolen vehicle into Kansas City, just 2 miles (3 kilometers) away from the site of the similar wreck in 2014, the Kansas City Star reported .

Independence police chasing a speeding vehicle also led to the crash four years ago. That crash killed one person and injured two others, and cost the city more than than $767,000 to settle lawsuits related to the crash.

Geoffrey Alpert, who served as an expert witness in one of those lawsuits, said he wasn’t surprised that a crash instigated by an Independence police chase happened again.

The majority of police agencies in the U.S. tightened their policies for pursuing fleeing suspects in the 1990s, said Alpert, who studies police chases as a criminologist at the University of South Carolina. Many law enforcement agencies restrict dangerous car chases to situations involving a violent felony or public safety threat, he said.

“In the mid-90s we came to the conclusion that it’s not worth chasing anything other than a violent criminal,” Alpert said. “That’s kind of the line in the sand.”

The Independence Police Department has a different policy, permitting officers to pursue vehicles whenever they see fit.

The department recently said officers use discretion when deciding whether to pursue a fleeing vehicle. The department’s policy is to keep public safety as the highest priority in vehicular pursuits, the department said in a June 4 statement.

Alpert said data from police chases show that 97 percent of suspects slow down within 90 seconds after police stop a pursuit, lessening the danger.

“If you keep chasing someone, yeah, it’s predictable that there’s going to be a collision unless someone stops,” he said. “And unfortunately for us as citizens, the bad guys don’t play by the rules and the police have to be the adults.”

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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