“THE DEADLY TOLL OF POLICE CHASES” shrieks the above-the-fold front page headline 7/31/2015 of the Arizona Republic. The companion article on the front page of the AZ Rep’s parent USA Today reads “High-speed police chase have killed thousands“. (those were the headlines in the print edition, the online ones are somewhat different).
Wow. That’s got to be a lot, right? For context we get that “A death a day (nationally — this is from the USA piece) from police chases”. Still sounds like a lot? I may have missed it, but nowhere in the local arizona, or the national story do they reveal the horrendous death toll from regular-old traffic crashes… Which current runs about ONE HUNDRED DEATHS A DAY in the US (figures in AZ are similar scaled). We then find out that the reference to “thousands” killed spans a thirty-five year timeframe, from 1979 to 2013. OMG, how many people have been killed in traffic collisions over 35 years? The article doesn’t say. I don’t have those figures at hand, but it’s well over a million souls lost.
This is just another sensationalist viewpoint; shedding heat, not light on a subject.
The big story is traffic deaths remain a leading cause of death for Americans (and it’s somewhat worse in Arizona) for a broad swath of the population. And that the US lags far behind virtually all other so-called advanced nations in improving traffic safety (see Traffic fatality reductions: United States compared with 25 other countries. Evans, Leonard. Am J Public Health). This is all despite recent sharp decreases in traffic deaths;
So they (the media) spin their wheels (so to speak) on one-percent of the problem.
What about these non-chase Police involved fatalities in AZ?
Then they trot out the anecdotes — here’s two police-involved fatalities they (the Arizona Republic) ought to be looking into more closely, these are not chase-related: A Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputy was speeding 41 over the speed limit on a city street, and killed some guy. This was NOT a chase; nor was this an emergency — the Glendale PD recommended criminal charges against the deputy. What happened? Nothing, all in a days work, apparently.
Another deputy, this time in Pinal County also feels the need to speed; just tooling around out on patrol apparently. He escaped any criminal liability after becoming involved in a fatal collision with a drunk driver at high-speed (the deputy’s high speed, not the drunk driver’s), but at least he was eventually fired due to “four separate complaints of unsafe and out of policy on-duty driving”.