LETTER: Police pursuit lasted less than 1 minute, don't blame officer for crashSince the fatal accident in Mitchell last Saturday, I have been hearing unwarranted criticism of the police officer’s actions. Some people say he should have terminated the pursuit. Supposedly, this would have prevented the fatal accident.
By: Rob Moore, Mitchell
To the Editor:
Since the fatal accident in Mitchell last Saturday, I have been hearing unwarranted criticism of the police officer’s actions. Some people say he should have terminated the pursuit.
Supposedly, this would have prevented the fatal accident. It is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, but before we jump to conclusions, let’s examine the allegations as we’ve heard them.
First, let’s look at the suspect driver.
He chose to drink. No one forced him to.
He chose to get behind the wheel of a deadly machine.
He chose to speed on one of our city’s busiest streets on the busiest day of the week.
He chose to try to elude the police officer.
He chose to run a stop sign, striking a vehicle.
Now let’s look at the officer.
He spotted a speeding vehicle headed toward the busy downtown area.
He attempted to stop this vehicle with lights and a siren.
The lights and siren also warn pedestrians and other vehicles that something is coming their way. This alone may have saved other vehicles or pedestrians from being struck by the suspect vehicle.
What would you say if the officer saw the speeding vehicle headed toward the downtown area and chose to ignore it? Do you honestly believe that if the officer terminated the pursuit (which lasted about one minute) the suspect driver who was already speeding and attempting to elude the officer would suddenly start obeying the speed limit and stop at the stop sign? I don’t believe so.
This unfortunate chain of events will be investigated in two ways. First, a thorough review of the events will determine if the officer was following department policy and protocol. I’m betting he was. Second, the accident scene will be examined to determine what happened, how it happened, and the proximate causes. The agencies conducting these investigations possess something that the Monday morning quarterbacks do not. That is knowledge, skills, abilities, training and experience in these kinds of investigations.
Let’s not judge the officer until both investigations are completed. Until then, we should be thankful he was doing the job that you and I pay him to do.