Law enforcement agencies hope pursuit policy will save lives

Law enforcement agencies hope pursuit policy will save lives

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by Scott Evans

Bio | Email | Follow: @ScottEvansKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on May 31, 2011 at 5:55 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 11 at 2:48 PM

BOISE -- USA Today reported innocent bystanders account for a third of those killed in high speed police chases. It’s something police departments all over the country are wrestling with. Now, an agreement between law enforcement agencies in the Treasure Valley is intended to make the roads a little safer.

While this agreement will mostly happen behind the scenes, police hope it will keep the chaos of a police pursuit to a minimum.

"Vehicle pursuits are one of the biggest concerns that our community has," said Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney.

The purpose of the pursuit policy is clear -- create a safer roadway.

"What this agreement does, 20 years ago, if Ada County would have started the chase, Ada County would have probably taken it to the end of the world," said Raney.

Now, 17 agencies in the Treasure Valley have a plan in place to work closer together when someone decides to run from police.

"Pursuits are dangerous, all pursuits are dangerous, but like I said, some people need to be caught, and some people we can catch at another time," said Nampa Police Chief Bill Augsburger.

Because there is that inherent danger, Raney says by increasing communication between the agencies involved, clearly identifying who is in charge, which in turn gives that agency the responsibility of deciding if and when to end a chase, the likelihood of innocent people getting involved goes down.

"We are out there trying to be proactive, trying to think of things before they are problems and solve them," said Raney.

Augsburger says his city can have a few pursuits a week.

"It's not a free-for-all. We do try to do things in a certain way, that follows our rules, that makes the pursuit and the things we do as safe as possible," said Augsburger.

Most pursuits will not make the news. For those that will make it in the future, chances are most of us won't see a difference in how police chase someone who decides to run.

"This just hopefully minimizes some of the communication things we've experienced over the last 30 years in law enforcement," said Augsburger. "If you're a bad guy, chances are we're going to chase ya, and chances are we're going to catch ya. Some people, we'll just catch them later, it's not worth the risk.”

The agreement doesn't lay out rules or guidelines for how and when officers call off a pursuit. It leaves those decisions up to the agency in charge.

A policy similar to the one signed Tuesday has been in place between Ada County and Canyon County for the last four years. The new policy expands the number of agencies involved and adds a few more specifics.

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