Sunday, June 15, 2008

VC this week, dangers of high-speed pursuit

Two of my favorite "Odd Fellows"! (From Street Fair 2005)

Dear People: It was good to see so many of you at the Street Fair yesterday. I helped set up and take down the Tecumseh Land Trust booth and attended more of the fair than usual (often I just hide in my house on Street Fair day). I thought it was especially well organized and fun this year, great music!, so kudos to the Chamber of Commerce.

1) We have several fairly straightforward resolutions to consider during the "public hearings/legislation" portion of our meeting, 7 pm Monday night, Bryan Ctr:
  • Approval of the 2009 Tax Budget
  • Purchase of a used street sweeper
  • Designating our official agent for the receipt of FEMA money from last winter's storms
  • Installing a new HVAC system in the Bryan Center.
2) We will have short special reports/presentations from:
  • Run for Life
  • Records Commission--regarding the posting of official public documents on our website
3) And we'll have several commission appointments to consider, before ...

4) ... we retire into Executive Session

We are still hoping that John Weithofer will agree to be our interim manager. He is currently acting as a manager-consultant for the village on an hourly basis and helping us to assess our current situation and the challenges we face.

FINALLY: High Speed Chase Concerns: I want to also share with you all a corrected copy of a letter that I drafted for the whole Council, which has been forwarded to the Dayton City Manager, regarding the high-speed chase through town, and the public safety issue as I see it, which is an issue that the media nor the Dayton Police have addressed. If any of you feel strongly, please consider writing a letter to the DDN or other media outlets to express your concerns:

Dear Colleagues: From what I can tell from these emails and the report in the Dayton Daily News, [edited to add: after the perpetrator deliberately backed into an arresting officer's vehicle (6/17/2008)] the [Dayton] police chose to continue this high-speed pursuit:
  • on a simple drug offense 
  • by an unarmed fugitive who the paper was able to describe in some detail (i.e., they had a good physical description and, I understand, actual films of his initial apprehension),
  • of an already identified vehicle 
  • in the middle of the day 
  • through a busy business district of a small town 
  • into the the parking lot of a public building with a significant teen recreation facility 
  • when there were almost certainly alternative means of capturing the criminal available through better use of modern telecommunications systems, etc.
  • at speeds of up to 90 mph
If all that is true, this borders on criminal irresponsibility on the part of the Dayton Police force.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police published an article in the last few years 
in which they note that pursuit-related crashes result in the deaths of at least 300 officers and innocent bystanders every year. (Other citizen action groups note there's no required reporting on this phenomena, so the numbers may actually be higher). The Police Chief Magazine article advocates that police not put themselves and the public at risk through a dependence on high-speed pursuit. They note that there are other means of pursuit available, particularly given the development of modern telecommunications, particularly when the perpetrator is not a violent offender.

What is Dayton Police policy on high-speed chases? What is ours?

Unless compelling information is produced that alters the public narrative of this event or my understanding of it, I can see no excuse for this dangerous chase. The Dayton Police deliberately turned both cars into deadly weapons and drove them into our midst, and they should be held accountable for this irresponsible decision.



Thanks for all the kinds words and support I continue to get from so many of you. It helps a lot!


Jon said...

I lost my son to high speed chase in the Boston area just one year ago. We started a campaign to institute changes in cities, counties and states across the country. Below is a letter I recently sent to the Mayor of Salem MA because she, too, want to support our cause. Perhaps I can help with your movement in Dayton.
Best regards,
Jon Farris

Mayor Kimberley Driscoll May 19, 2008
Salem City Hall
93 Washington Street
Salem, MA 01970

Dear Mayor Driscoll,
We have been contacted by two of your constituents, Melissa and Marc, about your May 12th letter. Melissa and Marc were friends of our son, Paul Farris, the young man killed in Somerville less than a year ago. They have joined in our quest to change police pursuit laws.
Immediately after Paul’s death we began an aggressive grassroots campaign to elevate the issue of police chases and to bring about necessary changes to prevent more senseless deaths and injuries as a result of poor decisions by police officers. The only way to ensure changes this dramatic are through much tougher police pursuit policies and, ultimately, through legislation at a state or national level.
Since Paul’s death the Massachusetts State Police have indeed changed their pursuit policies, which is good. But without state-level legislation, we will need to go city to city, county to county, state to state. It’s a tough battle but one that must be fought and one we’re willing to continue.
With your letter to Melissa and Marc you also attached legislation proposed by Representative Christopher Fallon and Representative Brad Hill. This is exactly the direction that we believe is critical for long-term success.
We would be honored to speak with you and Representatives Fallon and Hill. We are also ready and able to fly to Massachusetts at any time to help this legislation by testifying about the impact on us and on so many of Paul’s friends and family.
We have had many interviews by television stations in Boston, Madison and Minneapolis. As recently as last Friday we were on NBC in Minneapolis and just several weeks ago FOX News Boston did a tremendous investigative piece featuring the Paul DVD about police chases and interviews with my brother. The Massachusetts media have been exceptionally interested and helpful and they continue to support our campaign. I am confident that they would be extremely interested in helping us publicize this legislation and hear from you, as the Mayor of a populous city, the authors of the legislation as well as other supporters. I’m also sure that Somerville Mayor Curtatone will join us in this fight if you and the Representatives are interested.
Per your request, I have enclosed several additional DVDs and a copy of the letter we sent to a friend, Minnesota State Senator, Geoff Michel, that outlines our story and positions the DVD. Just let me know if you need additional copies of either.
Again, we thank you for your caring and help.

Warmest regards,

Jonathan and Roberta Farris

Lori Askeland said...

Thanks, Jon. I can't imagine your loss. Thank you for your note, and words of support. Numerous people who were driving or walking on the street, one with a small child, have contacted me to tell me they were very nearly hit by these vehicles. And we're a little village nearly 20 miles from the city of Dayton!

I hope that some of my constituents may pursue this issue further.