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This Tuesday night, St. Petersburg police decided to pursue an individual who was supected of an unarmed purse snatching that had occurred the previous weekend. They knew the suspect’s name and address, but when the car he was a passenger in began to flee, the police did not decide that it would be safer to track him down later at his home. Instead, they began a high speed pursuit during the evening rush hour, which culminated in a multiple car collision. The suspected purse snatcher was ejected from the vehicle and died from his injuries, and 6 others were hospitalized with injuries from the accident. The St. Petersburg Police have announced that they will review the decision to pursue, but a police spokesman was already quoted by the Tampa Bay Times as saying “it appears this was a justified pursuit under the current policy”. You can read the Tampa Bay Times article here.
Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter support our state and local law enforcement officers, but are forced to wonder about the soundness of pursuit policies when we regularly hear of injuries or deaths caused by high speed pursuits. This feeling is compounded when the pursuit in question was being conducted at 5:15 pm during heavy traffic, in pursuit of a suspect whose name and home address were already known to the officers. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those injured in this recent accident, with hopes for a quick recovery. We also hope that incidents like these will lead to a re-thinking of police pursuit policies, which could potentially reduce the number of Floridians injured or killed in such unfortunate circumstances as St. Petersburg witnessed on Tuesday night.