Patterico's Pontifications

8/21/2003

QUIZ FOR THE READER: The

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:57 pm

QUIZ FOR THE READER: The quiz is simple. Why am I laughing bitterly at the following story? It is titled Hamas, Islamic Jihad Scrap Israel Truce. Here is the first paragraph: “Palestinian militants called off a tattered two-month-old truce on Thursday after an Israeli helicopter killed a senior Hamas political leader with a volley of missiles. Tens of thousands of Hamas supporters marched in protest through the streets of Gaza, vowing revenge.”

Did you guess that a “truce” is not much of a truce when it encompasses one of the deadliest bus bombings in Israel’s history? If so, you win the grand prize. (Grand prize to be named later.)

ANOTHER MISLEADING DOG TRAINER STORY

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:43 am

ANOTHER MISLEADING DOG TRAINER STORY ON POLICE PURSUITS: The Dog Trainer worked for years to deprive LAPD officers of their ability to chase people who flee. The paper’s M.O. was to loudly trumpet any bad incident that happened as a result of a police pursuit, and to falsely imply that a different policy would have prevented the bad incident. Largely in response to this unremitting campaign by the Times, LAPD finally changed its policy in January. Yesterday’s Dog Trainer story was a glowing testimonial to what the paper obviously considers the smashing success of the new LAPD policy on police chases.

The article explains the genesis of the new policy by recounting, for the umpteenth time, three bad incidents that occurred over the last couple of years. What the story doesn’t tell you is that the new policy would not have prevented any of the bad incidents that gave rise to the policy:

“As the collateral damage from chases piled up, so did the bad publicity. An elderly couple who survived the holocaust were severely injured near the Beverly Center in March 2002 by a driver who fled after he was stopped for a traffic infraction. . . . A 4-year-old girl was killed two months later when a suspected car thief pursued by Los Angeles police ran a red light on a busy downtown street, causing a chain-reaction accident. . . . On Dec. 3, 2002, a 2 1/2-week-old boy lost an arm after his parents’ sport-utility vehicle was broadsided by a car carrying four men involved in a high-speed pursuit in Sylmar.

“Shaken by those incidents, the Los Angeles Police Commission adopted the new policy in January that banned the use of infractions — including minor offenses such as broken taillights — to justify a pursuit. . . . The guidelines also called for the LAPD to use helicopters as the favored means of tracking suspects.”

Let me summarize. Under the wonderful new policy, there are 1) no chases for minor infractions, and 2) LAPD tries to let patrol cars back off and let helicopters do the monitoring. And that, we are led to believe, would have prevented the three awful incidents mentioned above.

Sounds great, until you look at the facts of the three incidents.

In the first incident, where the holocaust survivors were injured, LAPD had handled the pursuit by turning over the chase to a helicopter — just as the new policy prescribes. As this article says: “Tremine Tillman, 23, of Van Nuys was later arrested and charged with evading arrest and hit-and-run driving. The LAPD says the police cruiser was no longer chasing Tillman–initially noticed because of a questionable registration–when the accident occurred.” This pursuit would have been handled the same way today — by helicopter. Evidently chasing helicopters can still cause fleeing motorists to drive dangerously.

In the second incident, a four-year old girl was killed when police were chasing — not someone who had committed an infraction — but rather a suspected car thief: “Two months after the Polivoda incident, on June 1, a chain reaction accident caused by a car-theft suspect fleeing from Los Angeles Police Department in downtown L.A., killed four-year-old Evelyn Vargas, who was on her way to visit an uncle with her mom and her three siblings.” I got news for you: car theft is not an infraction. So this pursuit would have happened anyway under the new policy.

In the third incident, where the boy lost his arm, the paper does not mention that police were chasing four men in connection in connection with a felony stabbing call. Here’s how the paper described the incident in an earlier story: “On Dec. 3, a 2 1/2-week-old boy lost an arm after his parents’ sport utility vehicle was broadsided by a car occupied by four men fleeing police during a short, high-speed pursuit in Sylmar. In that case, police were responding to a felony stabbing call.” Stabbing someone is not an infraction either, thank goodness. So this chase would still happen under the new policy too.

Not one of these incidents would have been prevented by the new policy. And unless you want police to stop chasing suspected car thieves and people who stab people, such tragic incidents are going to happen again. Meanwhile, literally countless (since they cannot be counted) criminals will evade arrest. People run from police for a reason. Murder suspects are often arrested because they flee after a routine traffic infraction. This cost of the policy is not addressed in the story.

Let me end with this quote from a cherry-picked expert on police pursuits: “Los Angeles has had the reputation as a department that would chase at the drop of a hat and until the wheels fell off.”

Let me translate that for you. Los Angeles has had the reputation as a department that would chase people when police tried to stop them — and they fled. Worse, police would keep chasing fleeing suspects until they caught them!

Pretty awful, huh? Thank goodness that’s not the policy anymore.


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