PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay has put out an order to rank and file officers and their supervisors regarding police pursuits.
The order comes the day after a police pursuit that began in the Larimer neighborhood and ended up in Shadyside. Five people were hurt when a reported stolen car was being chased by officers, and the car slammed into another vehicle on Baum Boulevard.
Chief McLay noted that police pursuits are often more dangerous than the laws that police are trying to enforce.
The memo say: “Regrettably, too many instances occur where our police pursuits create greater danger to the public than the violations we are seeking to address through enforcement. As a result, I am directing a full review of this policy, as well as our systems of accountability for compliance with this important policy.”
Chief McLay, ordering the review of pursuit policies, says from now on, police may only initiate a motor vehicle pursuit when the officer believes the individual in the vehicle is involved in a violent felony crime.
The memo says, “Effective immediately, a member of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police may only initiate a motor vehicle pursuit where she/he has reasonable belief the individual(s) in the offending vehicle is involved in a violent, felony crime. Members shall not engage in a motor vehicle pursuit for traffic violations only.”
In the same email, Chief McLay ordered a ban on pursuing traffic violators. Click here to read the full memo.
Visitors to Market Square on Monday night had mixed opinions on the order.
Natalie Moody, of Churchill, said, “It’s probably a good idea for the city, unless it’s a real serious situation, because innocent lives are put at risk.”
But, Gregory Branch, in Pittsburgh from Philadelphia disagreed.
Branch said, “It’s [a police officer’s] job. They should be able to make decisions on their own, they were trained to do things for a reason.”
Elizabeth Pittinger, the executive director of the Pittsburgh Police Citizens Review Board, welcomes the chief’s review of the police pursuit policy.
“It’s long overdue,” said Pittinger. “The best practices in the industry for several years has been you do not pursue a vehicle for a minor traffic infraction.”