A state legislator from Independence is sponsoring a bill to increase penalties, including mandatory time in prison, for drivers who flee from the police.
“We have to make a deterrent from running from the police,” said Independence Police Chief Tom Dailey.
A bill filed by Republican Rep. Bill E. Kidd would put fleeing from the police in a higher class of felonies and impose at least three years in prison. Kidd, a former reserve deputy, said fleeing from police at high speeds amounts to “basically taking a gun and shooting it into a crowd.”
“It’s extremely dangerous,” he said.
Dailey agreed, noting the dangers to the driver, the pursuing officer and other drivers and bystanders.
“These pursuits, they’re just not good for anybody,” he said.
There is a widespread – and erroneous – belief that police cannot pursue those they are trying to pull over, Dailey said. When those drivers are caught, “first thing they say is, you guys aren’t supposed to chase us,” he said.
Dailey noted that area police departments have increasingly strict rules outlining when it’s safe enough for an officer to pursue at high speeds but also said if something goes wrong, the blame inevitably is place on the law enforcement.
“It’s all on the police, and yet we are charged with protecting the public,” he said.
Dailey and Kidd both said motorcyclists are a particular problem, often driving at 100 mph or greater and easily weaving past cars and trucks, making safe pursuit extremely difficult.
Kidd’s bill is currently not on the House calendar, and no hearing for it is scheduled.