LAPD chief talks pursuit policies after string of Southern California chases

Friday, April 5, 2019
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LAPD Chief Michel Moore talked to Eyewitness News about law enforcement's policies during pursuits in Southern California.

PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- Following a string of dangerous chases in Los Angeles County, L.A. Police Department Chief Michel Moore talked to Eyewitness News on Friday about law enforcement's policies and decision-making during pursuits.

A crash into an innocent motorist would end a chase in Pasadena. The 63-year-old woman inside the vehicle is now out of the hospital. It was just one of four chases that happened just on Thursday.

Last week, there was an especially-memorable pursuit for the havoc and hazard that unfolded on the 5 Freeway in Burbank.

The driver, Drew Smith, rammed police cruisers, trying to evade arrest, brandished a knife, and then took off against traffic.

Chase: Dramatic pursuit ends with dangerous standoff on 5 Freeway in Burbank

Smith got out of the vehicle and jumped around as an officer fired non-lethal rounds before finally taking him into custody.

On Thursday in Hollywood, the driver of a Prius hit seven cars, according to the LAPD, intentionally rammed police units and hit three civilian vehicles that were occupied when they were slammed.

"The vast majority of our pursuits we find in policy, however, we do identify areas for improvement, areas for training," said Moore.

Moore says there is much the public does not see in these pursuits. There are layers of police personnel watching, evaluating risks and determining best tactics. All police agencies coordinate to decide whether pursuing an erratic driver would put the public in more jeopardy - or if that driver is such a hazard, he must be stopped at once.

Another component in public safety, says the chief, is media coverage.

"It has become, in my view at times, too glamorized, too sensational," Moore said.

He added that in some instances, law enforcement backs off but TV coverage continues and the suspect can become aware of that and, under pressure, continue risky moves.

He says he understands the need of the public to know what danger may be headed to a certain neighborhood, but he urges restraint.

"It's not a video game, these are life and death matters," he said. "We take these matters very seriously."