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Possible Change in CSP Car Chase Policies

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gavelIn 2007, Shea Lehnen lost her unborn child in a car accident involving a Colorado State Trooper and a high speed chase. Tim Ciesco of NBC 11 News gives us a thumbnail of the incident:

Keith Killian, the Lehnens’ attorney, says the trooper was trying to pull over the Jeep for speeding when he initiated the high speed chase — and during the pursuit, he tried to use a “tactical vehicle intervention”, hitting the back of the car in an effort to make it spin out.

Killian’s position was that neither the high speed chase nor the “tactical vehicle intervention” were appropriate for the situation and that the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) needs to overhaul their procedures on this sort of situation. The court seems to be in agreement, since they just awarded $280,000 to the Lehnens.

Paul Shockley, a writer for the The Daily Sentinel, notes that in addition to the financial settlement, the case may be spurring changes at the CSP on the policy level:

During mediation to settle the lawsuit, State Patrol leaders pledged to study and implement policies detailing when and under what conditions pursuits should be started and terminated, Killian said.

Shockley also brings us a comment from Killian, this time on the vague nature of the laws and policies surrounding this sort of chase:

While Killian said Colorado law allows emergency vehicles to engage in pursuits, provided drivers do so in a manner that ‘does not endanger life and property,’ existing State Patrol policy doesn’t address in further detail pursuits of fleeing drivers.

State Patrol Sgt. John Hahn said the CSP is unable to comment until the case is settled. Hopefully, we will be able to tell more about the direction this is going once the settlement becomes final and the CSP issues a statement.

Image by MrBill (Bill Bradford), used under its Creative Commons license.


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