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Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Chasing adrenaline

It is the absence of brake lights that hits a cop's main line. It means a lawman's job will--in an instant--morph from writing tickets and breaking up redneck brawls into one of the most exciting moments a police officer can have. The high-speed chase is 100cc's of pure adrenaline, injected straight into the heart.

The necessity of the high speed chase is a matter of debate. Critics cite the numerous deaths and injuries caused by irresponsible officers who chase for little reason other than the offending driver refused to stop. Proponents argue that if high speed chases became illegal, it would give criminal's free reign on the highways and byways.

Above you'll see the result of a two-day riot in Michigan. Hundreds of people are burning houses, attacking police and news reporters, and chanting in the street because a motorcyclist who was running from police ran headlong into a building. The offender died. The Michigan town burned. Police argue that if the guy--who was found to have a suspended license and a small amount of dope--had just stopped for police, he'd be in jail rather than dead.

Me...I have no sympathy for a person who dies while running from police. Zero. It's the price you pay for being stupid and arrogant. I tend to agree with one of my local elected Sheriffs. He says failing to stop for police should be a felony. It would act as a deterrant for people who figure, "Well, it's either get busted for the roach in my ashtray, or risk a misdemeanor charge of failing to stop for blue lights."

With that in mind, there is a lot to be said for not putting up to a dozen screaming weapons (the cars of the offender and chasing police vehciles) on the road, risking the life of the innocent driver on the way to get a loaf of bread and package of bologna.

A few years ago, I got called away from a story I was working on to cover the end of a police chase in a small South Carolina town. Ordinarily, the end of a chase isn't news. This time, however, a guy who was driving a stolen car and running from police at 100mph+ t-boned a small red car. His bumper slammed right into the side of the car where a little girl named Tiffany sat. I stood across the street from that car while they cut it open and pulled the little girl's body out. It made me wonder if recovering a stolen car was worth Tiffany's life.

I am as fascianted by a high-speed chase as anybody else. I'll be the first to admit that I feel a small surge of arenaline every time my police scanner blares, "Be advised, Charlie three is 10-58 on I-85."

The riots in Michigan got me to thinking again. And as ruler of my own little world, here's my little piece of legislation that will deal with recent and future events.

1) All the rioters in Michigan should be arrested and forced to undergo five years of stupidity therapy. Given, I've never been a rioter, but there are many other ways to get attention and further your message than throwing rocks at cops and burning down your own town.
2) Anyone who fails to stop for blue lights can be charged with a felony and is subject to a mandatory jail sentence of not less than one year.
3) Anyone who fails to stop for blue lights and causes the death of another person as a result can be setenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.
4) Police who are able to obtain the license plate number or driver's identity shall not engage in a high speed chase unless the suspect driver has already been charged with a felony or is suspected of committing a felony. In the absence of identifying information, police can chase until such time that the chase becomes dangerous to the public or identifying information has been obtained. Failure to abide by this will make the police department subject to civil penalty.

Now...back to the police scanner. I think Charlie three may be getting ready to fire up again.


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