Are there more Southern California police chases lately?

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Friday, November 10, 2017
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It's been a week of wild chases in Southern California, but why do Southlanders seem to be witnessing more lately?

GLENDALE, Calif. (KABC) -- It's been a week of wild chases in Southern California, but why do Southlanders seem to be witnessing more lately?

There are stunning images of chaos and crime from a week of violent pursuits. In one on Thursday, a rape suspect leaped off of a bridge while children were still in the car.

Overhead with a birds-eye view was ABC7 helicopter reporter J.T. Alpaugh. He said the Huntington Beach Police Department landed their chopper to get the suspect -- a rare but necessary move.

MORE: Man who jumped from overpass after OC chase is rape suspect, LASD says

"Especially when an officer needs back up or an officer needs help and there are no other officers around that officer, we'll see that happen where the air unit will actually land in the vicinity and offer help because they can get there very quickly," Alpaugh explained.

Later in the evening, police said a simple theft led to a suspect tearing through the streets of Burbank.

MORE: Reckless driver taken into custody in North Hollywood after fleeing from police

If it feels like there's more chases than usual lately, Alpaugh said that's not the case.

"Most of them are very, very short and they end very quickly. We've just had a rash of pursuits lately that seem to be going a little bit longer. That gives us time to get over and bring them to our audience," Alpaugh said.

So how do police decide who to chase and who to let go? Earlier this year, an L.A. County civil grand jury report found Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Los Angeles Police Department chases are too dangerous because they can lead to bystander injury and death.

MORE: Woman arrested after chase in downtown Los Angeles with stolen U-Haul

"Some departments won't chase someone if it's a crime against property, but they will chase a murder suspect or an armed-robbery suspect," Alpaugh said. "So, a lot of pursuit policies vary between departments and that's, right now, something they're struggling with."

It's a struggle and, at times, a necessary battle for authorities so they can put people like rape suspects where they belong -- behind bars.