Police pursuits too dangerous, LA County report finds

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A new report looks at the risks of police pursuits in Los Angeles County, finding many of them are too dangerous.

The Los Angeles County Civil Grand Jury report says pursuits by the LA County Sheriff's Department and the Los Angeles Police Department lead to unnecessary bystander injuries and deaths

The report looked at 421 pursuits in Los Angeles County over a one-year period.

It found that 67 percent of chases in Los Angeles County ended successfully with the arrest of the suspect. But 17 percent resulted in a collision.

The report also found that in 59 instances out of the 421, the vehicle being pursued managed to escape. In 24 cases, the suspect abandoned the vehicle and successfully escaped on foot.

There were 3 deaths involving suspect drivers and 45 injuries to suspects or officers.

The report also found that most pursuits were not provoked by serious crimes. It also found that the sheriff's pursuit training facility was substandard, particularly compared to the LAPD's, which it said "sets a high standard."

Capt. Scott Gage with the county Sheriff's Department questions the data used in the report and says the LASD has one of the most restrictive pursuit policies in the country, limiting who deputies are allowed to chase.

"We pursue serious felonies, confirmed stolen vehicle or suspected drunk driver who is driving recklessly and we have a duty to warn the public," Gage said.

The LAPD provided a written statement about the report, saying it "takes every step to develop tactics and mitigate the risk posed by these dangerous interactions. We are constantly reviewing our policies and procedures to ensure they support what we value the most: the preservation of life."

The sheriff's department agrees that more pursuit training is needed.

Right now deputies practice on property shared with the Pomona Fairplex, which limits how often they can train.

But a new pursuit training course is in the works. The county is going through a bidding process now to build its own track that will allow training at any time.
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