Today's decision by the United States Supreme Court absolving police officers from any liability in the deaths of innocent people who are killed or severely injured as the result of a reckless police chase is extremely unfortunate.

This decision means that police officers may disregard rules and guidelines concerning high speed vehicle pursuits. A review of the deaths of innocent bystanders from these out of control chases reveals the folly of this decision.

The ACLU of Southern California is not suggesting a ban on police pursuits. We believe that pursuits may be justified to apprehend individuals suspected of committing violent crimes, who have taken hostages or who pose an immediate threat to themselves or others. Still, even under those circumstances, a pursuit should be undertaken only after careful consideration of the conditions that may influence the outcome.

Safer alternatives involve police agencies cooperating to track the location of a vehicle to safely stop and apprehend fleeing suspects.

Flight from the law is no way to freedom, but jeopardizing the lives of bystanders, and indeed the officers themselves, is not sound police strategy.

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