Last weekend, I happened by local television news and saw a report about Madison police officers going on a high-speed chase through the streets of Jackson—because of a problem that happened in the Target in Jackson, ending in a crash that seriously injured a bystander. Huh?
Also, looking at the website of the Starkville Daily News on Feb. 21, I had seen a short news report about Starkville police pursuing two teenagers through the streets of Starkville ending in a two-car collision. What were they charged with? "[S]uspicion of felony fleeing law enforcement officers." Huh? Starkville police pursued people in a dangerous chase that could injure or kill bystanders -- to charge them with fleeing? Why were they pursuing them in the first place, Daily News? (We're going to ask.)
The JFP has long reported about dangerous police chases, often in pursuit of non-violent criminals. Some of those chases end in serious injury or death. See this extensive report on the problem: http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2012/apr/18/code-blue-police-pursuits-cost-a-life-a-day/">"Code Blue: Police Pursuits Cost a Life a Day". It always amazes me that residents don't get more outraged (until one of their family members is killed) at these dangerous chases. And, even more startling, is how few questions local media often ask about the necessity of the chases.
I was pleased to see this release from the Jackson Police Department (which seems to have matured on this issue over the years). JPD is asking serious questions about why Madison police were engaged in dangerous pursuits outside their jurisdiction. Here is the statement, verbatim:
On February 23, 2014, the Madison Police Department engaged in a hot pursuit chase in that began in the Jackson city limits. Based on the information compiled by the Jackson Police Department, an alleged incident occurred at the Target Store in Jackson and outside the jurisdiction of the Madison Police Department. According to the incident reports Madison Police Officers engaged in a high chase pursuit without the authority or assistance of the Jackson Police Department. The Madison officers had no arrest powers for an alleged crime that occurred in the city of Jackson. There was no request for assistance to investigate a crime in Jackson. The officers only contacted JPD after they were already on scene at the Target Store and pursued a high speed chase.
The Jackson Police Department policy regarding high chase pursuits takes into consideration the inherent dangers of high speed chases on the public thoroughfares. The facts that have been presented to date did not show that a criminal act occurred that would justify a high speed chase. As a result of the action taken, at least one innocent by-stander was seriously injured. As a result of the actions taken by the Madison police officers, the Jackson Police Department has solicited the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations (MBI) to conduct an independent investigation. Public safety in the City of Jackson is this Department’s ultimate concern and responsibility. We encourage the assistance of other agencies but only within the means allowed by our policies and the law.
We applaud JPD for bringing in MBI. We don't need any law-enforcement agency endangering the lives of our citizens.