In a country where the balance of power swings wildly between law enforcement and criminals, Atlanta has launching a program that as of this moment will let crime run rampant without and police officers in pursuit. Literally.
Last week, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields sent out an email to the entire police force notifying officers that the department will no longer chase suspects, in what is now called a "zero chase policy." According to WSB-TV, Shields cited "the risk to the safety of the officers and the public for each chase", and "knowing that the judicial system is largely unresponsive to the actions of the defendants."
Ostensibly, the change comes after public outcry following a deadly crash last month that killed two men during a police chase. The APD's response: halt all police chases indefinitely.
This change comes after last month’s deadly crash during a chase that killed two men. https://t.co/SvonkFUsPY— Matt Johnson (@MattWSB) January 3, 2020
"Please know that I realize this will not be a popular decision; and more disconcerting to me personally, is that this decision may drive crime up," Shields said in a memo announcing the change. “I get it.”
While she noted that "an overwhelming number of crimes are committed where a vehicle is involved" and that significant arrests often follow zeroing in on a specific vehicle, other factors influenced the decision.
“Namely, the level of pursuit training received by officers who are engaging in the pursuits, the rate of occurrence of injury/death as a result of the pursuits and the likelihood of the judicial system according any level of accountability to the defendants as a result of the pursuit. At his point and time, the department is assuming an enormous risk to the safety of officers and the public for each pursuit, knowing that the judicial system is largely unresponsive to the actions of the defendants.”
Additionally, in her email, Sands said that while Executive Command Staff "will work to identify specific personnel and certain specialized pursuit training to enable the department to conduct pursuits in limited instances, but until these standards have been formalized, effective immediately, the department has a zero chase policy."
Here is a department-wide email sent from Chief Erika Shields today. pic.twitter.com/EJ8skpZnzp— Matt Johnson (@MattWSB) January 3, 2020
Adding insult to injury, and further crippling police officer morale, the police chief went so far to suggest that the US court system is broken, and allows criminals to get away without punishment: "I don't want to see us cost someone their life in pursuit of an auto theft person or a burglar, when the courts aren't even going to hold them accountable", Sands said on Friday.
Chief Shields suggests criminals are already getting away w/o punishment, via the court system.— Matt Johnson (@MattWSB) January 3, 2020
"I don't want to see us cost someone their life in pursuit of an auto theft person or a burglar, when the courts aren't even going to hold them accountable," she said today. pic.twitter.com/fbymXG0wKz
APD’s previous pursuit policy, which went into effect Sept. 15, 2018, allowed up to three police vehicles to join in a vehicle chase. Under that policy, officers were authorized to pursue a vehicle in one of the following situations: the suspect has a deadly weapon, the officer believes the suspect poses an immediate threat of violence to officers or others; or when there is probable cause to believe the suspect has committed or threatened serious physical harm. Additionally, all police officers involved in a vehicle pursuit were instructed to utilize their siren, flashing blue lights and headlights.
But the department’s policy has come under scrutiny, along with other law enforcement agencies, when bystanders were harmed or killed by the pursuit.
On Dec. 4, two friends and neighbors, Mark Hampton and Jermanne Jackson, were running errands, according to their families. Hampton had to pick up medication for his disabled son. The two were killed when their car was hit by an SUV speeding through the intersection of Campbellton Road and Lee Street, according to police. Hampton was 43; Jackson was 44. The two 19-year-olds in the SUV had allegedly carjacked someone hours earlier, according to police, and both Marguell Scott and Emmanuel Fambro were charged with murder.
"It’s so senseless," said Hampton’s mother, Deborah Hampton, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution days after his death. “It just seems like it’s a dream. A nightmare."
It will soon be a nightmare for all law abiding citizens, however: Chris Rich, who has lived in Atlanta for about five years, was trying to make sense of the policy decision Friday afternoon (he was hardly alone):
"This is pretty drastic,” he said. "If I’m a criminal, it’s open season. It’s going to impact all the law-abiding citizens. It’s worrisome."
Then again, Rich understands where Shields is coming from, and wishes the police department felt more support from other agencies: "We’ve got these guys working hard, trying to make our streets safe, and then you’ve got this revolving door with these repeat offenders. I just cannot understand why the mayor’s office is not putting more pressure on the DA’s office or the judicial system. There needs to be a unified front."
Alas, now that crime itself has become 'racist' instead of a united front, expect more cities to take a position that makes it "open season" for criminals who now will know in advance that no police will give chase if and when any particular crime escalates. In other words, expect a surge in crime because the alternative, a crackdown on crime, is now seen as racist and politically disadvantageous to those in charge of inner city slums.
Car Jackers in ATL right now... pic.twitter.com/WTkN0LxxK3— Audi Aficionado🇧🇧 (@Jay_71Eight) January 3, 2020