By Andy Sheehan

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — High-speed police chases: are they worth it — especially when the stakes are so high and the risk to innocent human life is so great?

The death of three innocent people Thursday in North Versailles is just the latest incident to raise concerns about the dangers.

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On Sunday, a speeding police cruiser in Stowe Township nearly missed plowing into four kids after was it was T-boned while chasing a stolen car.

“Anybody could have gotten hurt and to see my kids in harm’s way like that was very disturbing,” said mother Tenesha Gillespie.

Police agencies throughout the nation have begun reining in pursuits after asking themselves the question: do the dangers outweigh the benefits?

Last year, then-police chief Cameron McLay changed Pittsburgh’s policy after a police pursuit resulted in a crash on Baum Boulevard, injuring five people.

The policy now forbids chases unless someone is suspected of a violent felony and even those are terminated “when the need for apprehension is outweighed by the dangerousness of the pursuit.”

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“The bottom line is that if the chase becomes dangerous to a person in the street or the public, it’s not worth it,” Allegheny County Sheriff Bill Mullen said.

Mullen has instituted a similar policy at the sheriff’s office — forbidding chases for offenses like traffic violations and reserving pursuits for only the most dangerous of criminals, and then only under the direction of a supervisor.

“Anytime you start a chase there’s very serious, critical consequences if things don’t go perfectly right, so you have to use common sense,” Mullen said.

Still, he will not institute a no-chase policy, saying there must be a deterrent to fleeing.

“A no-chase policy, it’s not going to work because all the bad guys will know they’re going to get away with anything,” Mullen said.

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