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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Police chief wants to ease rules on vehicle chases in Charlotte

Tired of what he calls “brazen disrespect” for police, Chief Rodney Monroe wants to loosen rules on Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chases.

Too many suspects get away, he says, because current policy allows officers to chase suspects only when a life-threatening felony is involved.

“At some point we have to send a message back to the criminal element that we are going to come after you,” he said.

Monroe couldn't provide statistics or examples of suspects eluding police, but said officers should have more discretion to pursue suspects in various violent crimes and some property crimes.

The move fits Monroe's reputation as a cop's cop, a chief who trusts his officers to make the right decision. But criminal justice experts are skeptical about rolling back restrictions on chases, which can be deadly, particularly in urban areas.

“Charlotte has had not only a good policy, but a good record when it comes to police pursuit,” said Geoffrey Alpert, a University of South Carolina criminologist and national expert on police pursuits. “I just don't understand why he would tinker with it.” [Mark Godsey]

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