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Update on fatal MD bike chase incident


John in VA

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Beltway Chase Wasn't Called In, Sources Say

Pr. George's Officer Pursuing Motorcyclist Is Said to Have Contacted Dispatchers Only After Fatal Crash

 

The police chase that led to a fatal multi-vehicle crash last month on the Capital Beltway in Prince George's County was not called in to dispatchers, in apparent violation of department policy on high-speed pursuits, several law enforcement sources said.

 

Friday, June 22, 2007

 

Sources familiar with the inquiry into the May 30 accident that killed two men and injured 15 people said that a camera in the police cruiser recorded speeds of more than 120 mph as Officer Scott Campbell drove briefly onto the shoulder and back onto the highway in pursuit of a motorcyclist.

 

The chase began about 7 p.m. when Campbell, on routine patrol, saw the motorcyclist weaving through rush-hour traffic on the outer loop near the Ritchie Marlboro Road exit, the sources said.

 

Officers said Campbell's cruiser slammed into a sport-utility vehicle after the motorcycle cut in front of the SUV. The collision sent the SUV over a guardrail and into traffic on the inner loop, triggering a chain-reaction crash that involved five other cars. The motorcyclist sped off...

 

 

Full story below.

....

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/21/AR2007062102241.html

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According to a recent copy of the Prince George's police department vehicle pursuit policy obtained by The Washington Post, officers can take part in pursuits in the county only if there is probable cause that the suspect was involved in the use or threat of physical force or was involved in a hit-and-run accident that resulted in death or serious injury. An officer who engages in a chase is required to radio a dispatcher, who must immediately notify a supervisor, the policy says.

 

The officer is also required to provide the dispatcher with the location, speed and progress of the pursuit. The policy says that an officer's primary concern should be the preservation of life and that capturing or identifying a suspect is secondary to safety.

 

I know that the investigation is still underway and we are only hearing reports from anonymous sources, but that doesn't sound good for the officer.

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This kind of backs up my feeling that the motorcycle didn't even know the officer was following him. Doesn't excuse the motorcyclist's actions.

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Using the shoulder to pass on the right with lights and siren activated is illegal and against department policies in California. This is due to the "pull over to the right" requirement when there is an emergency vehicle behind you. No one teaches "passing on the right" pursuit driving. Failing to call in your pursuit is also a violation of policy. That officer will get some days off without pay and possibly termination. Department policies are intended to limit the liability of the agency/department if the officer goes beyond the scope of authority. The officer could end up eating some of the civil judgements that will come out of this mess.

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Using the shoulder to pass on the right with lights and siren activated is illegal and against department policies in California...

 

... especially at 120 mph in extremely heavy traffic at the height of evening rush hour solely for the purpose of stopping a "weaving" motorcycle.

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GoGo Gadget
Using the shoulder to pass on the right with lights and siren activated is illegal and against department policies in California. This is due to the "pull over to the right" requirement when there is an emergency vehicle behind you.

 

I guess you have a 50% chance of being right on which shoulder it was. Since the SUV was knocked into oncoming traffic, and it is 4 lanes in each direction, I would wager it was the left shoulder. Of course that still begs the question, how do you know his siren was activated, and what is the requirement in Maryland since the event did not occur in California?

 

Some academies teach to use the siren intermittently when passing on the right because you don't want them to pull right without looking. Some states require you to pull to the "nearest" shoulder, or to simply "make way" for an oncoming emergency vehicle. Quite often, you have to split the middle and everyone moving right makes that difficult.

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Using the shoulder to pass on the right with lights and siren activated is illegal and against department policies in California. This is due to the "pull over to the right" requirement when there is an emergency vehicle behind you.

 

I guess you have a 50% chance of being right on which shoulder it was. Since the SUV was knocked into oncoming traffic, and it is 4 lanes in each direction, I would wager it was the left shoulder. Of course that still begs the question, how do you know his siren was activated, and what is the requirement in Maryland since the event did not occur in California?

 

Some academies teach to use the siren intermittently when passing on the right because you don't want them to pull right without looking. Some states require you to pull to the "nearest" shoulder, or to simply "make way" for an oncoming emergency vehicle. Quite often, you have to split the middle and everyone moving right makes that difficult.

The dash camera should have recorded the siren use. California LEO academies teach constant use of the siren and emergency lights if the officer wants the vehicle code exemptions and protection of an "emergency vehicle". Those academies always teach "pass on the left". If the officer operating "code 3" were to pass on the right just as a motorist yielded to the right, the officer would be at fault for the collision.

Many officers, including me, limit use of lights and siren because you can often get "there" quicker without them. What happens when operating code 3? The car in front of you slows down, adjusts the mirror, puts the seat belt on, carefully activates the right signal and slowly prepares to "pull over" to the right. Since I can't pass on the right, I just sit there creeping along while Ms. Dillydally does her thing.

So when I went C3 on the motor, I would go fast and only use the lights and siren to blow through intersections. I could hear the radio better, drivers don't get confused and I can pass on the right.

Old timers like to refer to it as "code 2 1/2". It drives supervisors bonkers and you stick your neck out if you crash. It worked for me. The only drivers who lay on the the lights and siren all the time are ambulances and fire trucks.

Defensive tactics and the type of call you are responding to also dictates the need for a quiet approach.

Pursuit driving is full lights and siren, just remember you can't pass on the right. Frustrating when the bad guy gets to pass on the right but you don't.

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...The only drivers who lay on the the lights and siren all the time are ambulances and fire trucks...

 

We often run our fire trucks without lights and siren. It all depends on the type of call and which unit is responding. An example would be the second unit out to a dumpster fire. They just drive "code one" unless ordered otherwise by the first unit.

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