Criminals in a major American city are likely rejoicing at news that police will no longer pursue them.
Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields made the shocking announcement in a department-wide email on Jan. 3.
“I am acutely aware than an overwhelming number of crimes are committed where a vehicle is involved in some capacity,” Shields wrote, “and that some of the most significant arrests we have made as an agency have been as a result of zeroing in on a specific vehicle.”
“In reviewing the department’s current pursuit policy, I must weigh these critical successes against several factors.”
Shields identified officers’ pursuit-training level, casualties from chases and the judicial system’s apparent inability to hold criminals accountable as her reasoning for instituting the change.
“The department has a zero-chase policy and this is effective immediately,” Shields later emphasized.
Read Shields’ full letter below.
Here is a department-wide email sent from Chief Erika Shields today. pic.twitter.com/EJ8skpZnzp
— Matt Johnson (@MattWSB) January 3, 2020
This shocking change comes one month after a deadly December chase.
According to WSB-TV, police were pursuing an armed carjacking suspect before the alleged criminal blew through an intersection, ramming another car and killing its occupants.
That incident drew criticism from the public over the need to chase suspects. Police claimed the suspect’s alleged use of a firearm made him a potentially dangerous person, which warranted a pursuit.
It’s not hard to see where this is headed.
Atlanta already struggles with a crime problem. Now, criminals are safe in the knowledge that Atlanta police will not chase them for the time being.
This new policy may not outright allow people to commit crimes, but it certainly lets them run from the consequences. In essence, criminals in the city now have a blank check to act how they want.
According to USA Today, many departments already have restrictive pursuit policies, only allowing chases under certain circumstances.
While it’s clear that unrestricted high-speed pursuits do sometimes result in the deaths of innocent bystanders, a blanket ban on all chases does not seem to be the answer.
Only time will tell if this policy will help Atlanta — or just its criminals.
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