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The differences between today's news stories on pursuit fatalities and those during the "Kristie's Law" era are the names of the innocent victims and the people who cause these violent crashes.

We need to stop doing what doesn't work so we can quit recycling the same rushed media reports with new names.

 
 

The Problem: Policies with 'no teeth'

To receive blanket immunity, California law requires law enforcement agencies to adopt a vehicular pursuit policy; the state law does not require officers to follow that policy. Why does California lead the nation in the number of innocent people killed in police pursuits?

Experts point to lack of accountability.

Vehicular pursuit is not the only way to apprehend a suspect, but California law does not encourage officers to use other methods to catch these suspects.


The Solution: Kristie's Law

At a California Crime Victims' dinner in 2004,

Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona said, "Law enforcement collaborates on finding solutions to problems."

Senator Sam Aanestad bravely steps out to make Kristie's Law the means to prevent a new generation of innocent victims of police pursuit.


 

At the California Senate Public Safety Informational Hearing on

March 9, 2005, Candy Priano spoke to those present:

Any legislation in my daughter's name is NOT about penalizing or hampering the police. [It's not even about blaming police officers. We all know that people who flees are breaking the law and need to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. But for the safety of innocent bystanders and police officers, law enforcement agencies must be held accountable -- even limited liability -- if officers fail to follow their own agency's pursuit policy, comments made after the hearing.

It's about preventing unnecessary tragedies from happening to other innocent, law-abiding people. It's about prevention and enforcement of an adopted pursuit policy. California Law requires law enforcement agencies to have a policy, but does not require officers to follow that policy. Had the Chico Police followed their written policy, the pursuit would have been abandoned (or not even started).

Kristie was killed to aid officers in apprehending a teenage girl who had taken her mother's car without permission. If Kristie had been killed to save a kidnapped child's life or to catch a violent felon, I would still be filled with grief, but I would understand the necessity of those kinds of chases. And, I would not be trying to change California's outdated and dangerous pursuit practices.

Letter to the Readers

For people who think this legislation is not needed, ask yourself: If the person I love the most -- an innocent, law-abiding citizen -- was killed in a police vehicular pursuit, would I still think this legislation was not needed? If my innocent child was killed, would I at least question what happened and why? And what would you do if those answers told you that your child's death was preventable? You found out that your child didn't need to die because no one's life was in danger until the suspect fled and the officers decided chase, violating their own pursuit policy because the identity of the suspect was known and the officers knew they could catch the suspect later. Officers also violated their policy by conducting this high-speed chase in a residential neighborhood. It was the pursuit that put Kristie and her family in harm's way. 

One minute Kristie, together with her family, was traveling in the family's van to her high school basketball game, the next she became part of a growing number of innocent Californians killed in a police vehicular pursuit. The reason for this chase: a teenage girl had taken her mother's car without permission. After Kristie was buried, we discovered that prior to the chase, the officers knew the teen's identity and address and those officers knew it was just mom's car? (The official report says the chase was to recover a stolen car.) According to a tape transcript of the pursuit, officers observed the teen prior to the chase; she was not speeding and she was not running stop signs. This chase took place in a poorly lit residential neighborhood on narrow streets with blind areas. The teen (who is to blame and should have stopped) was chased at high speed down a street with numerous stop signs that were ignored, while intersecting streets such as the one Kristie's family was traveling on had no stop signs. If your child was killed in a similar chase, would you be 
Pursuing Justice?

Here is the fact-based analysis that compares Chico's pursuit policy with the Chico police report on this deadly and unnecessary high-speed chase.