Cop chase law revisited
Too many Californians are killed during police pursuits ” be they criminals, officers or bystanders ” according to local lawmaker Sam Aanestad.
This is why the state senator is again proposing a state bill that would limit when law enforcers could chase after the bad guys and what to do during a chase.
This time, however, Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, has enlPhoto:1446545,left;isted the help of state Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, to help push the bill into law.
Senate Bill 718 is named “Kristie’s Law” after Kristie Priano, a Chico girl, was killed when the van she was in was struck by a vehicle fleeing police. It would create a statewide pursuit policy aimed at preventing pursuits in which the suspect does not pose a “certain, immediate and impending” danger.
“This will save innocent lives,” Aanestad said. If there is any job that a state senator has, it is to save lives.”
The senator introduced a similar bill last year, but it failed to make it into law, partly because most law enforcement agencies in the state opposed it. This time, Aanestad said he is planning on taking the opinions of law enforcement into consideration in hope of getting their support.
Wednesday, the Senate Public Safety Committee will hold a hearing to gather input from all interested parties, which will be used to edit the wording of the bill.
“I told law enforcement that I would be listening to any of their ideas,” Aanestad said Friday.
“We are bringing in victims, experts from other parts of the country who have done this and want to tell us about their results, and the public is free to make suggestions during the public comment session. This may or may not look like last year’s bill,” he said.
Currently, Kristie’s Law would ban chases by more than two squad cars and would prohibit motorcycles from taking part in a pursuit once squad cars are following a suspect. It would also bar aggressive tactics such as ramming the fleeing vehicle unless authorized by a supervisor in extreme circumstances, and violators of the law would lose their current immunity from lawsuits if they are ruled to have acted in bad faith or gross negligence.
Law enforcement agencies across the state and locally have opposed the bill for several reasons. Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal said previously that offenders would be encouraged to flee from authorities, knowing that they would not be chased. This would give them a “free pass” to committing crimes, he said.
Royal said previously that local officers have the skills to determine for themselves when to pursue a suspect and when not to pursue.
Grass Valley Police Chief John Foster said Friday that while he will wait for Aanestad to announce the changes in the new version of the bill, he also opposes the bill as it was written last year.
The pursuit policies of local authorities, which are similar, include factors such as paying attention to the degree of hazard, the danger of the offender, the proximity of the pursuit to populated areas and schools, familiarity with the road, road conditions and speed.
Aanestad said that after Wednesday’s hearing, he will spend as little as one day to change wording in the bill to try to satisfy law enforcement. After that, he will have two years to have the bill passed, he said.
“It’s unfortunate (that the bill has been opposed by law enforcement),” he said. “I really wish law enforcement in California would start looking at how to solve the problem instead of being told
what to do. It doesn’t need to be that way.”
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