Police chases strike debate in Cincinnati

Police chase policy

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Friday's police chase that ended in College Hill is the second in the last week to make headlines. In our commitment to Balanced News, FOX19 looked into the ongoing debate over controversial and potentially dangerous police chases.

On one side, too many restrictions on police pursuits can keep police from getting the bad guys off the streets. On the other hand, if there aren't enough restrictions on police, chases can create a safety hazard to the public and everyone involved.

On July 10, a chase led by Cincinnati Police ended in a wreck in Norwood. Police initially pursued the vehicle with five teen girls inside because authorities had information the teens stole items from UDF.

A report ultimately found the officer's pursuit of the suspects' vehicle was not in compliance with departmental policy and procedure. It found the officer failed to stop at an intersection. She also didn't activate her microphone and was found to be traveling 40 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.

Cincinnati Police policy states officers are not allowed to travel more than 20 miles per hour over the limit, they must ensure video and audio recording equipment is activated and they must conform to all applicable traffic laws and regulations including stopping at intersections.

Doug Weisman, commander of the Cincinnati Police Academy, tells FOX19 officers annually receive in-service training. He says every two years there is a pursuit refresher course. Officers also have to opportunity to do physical pursuit driving in a "skid car" during quarterly drivers' training. Individual commanders in the districts nominate officers to take part in the exercise. Weisman says if an officer has been identified as the lead in multiple pursuits and a pattern is established, an intervention plan is laid out and individualized training is arranged.

Another headline-grabbing chase ended Saturday after hours of chasing a taxi cab driver who had hijacked the vehicle and threw the driver in the trunk. An internal CPD investigation of the chase has not yet been released.

Finally, Springfield Township Police say Friday morning's accident that ended in someone's yard in College Hill was initiated in an attempt to arrest a robbery suspect.

Springfield Township has its own policies for initiating pursuits. Many aspects are similar to Cincinnati's policy though they do allow officers to disregard traffic signs or signals if "extreme caution" is used.

Sgt. Brian Uhl of Springfield Township says the department conducts motor vehicle pursuit and emergency vehicle operations policy review annually.

"The Springfield Township Police Department updated its motor vehicle pursuit policy to mirror a model policy researched and established by the International Association of Chiefs of Police in May 2011," Uhl told FOX19 in an email. "This update outlined more specific incidents when officers can and cannot pursue suspects in motor vehicles."

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