Cleveland police chase policy called into question

Chase called off overnight due to strict policy
Posted at 6:19 PM, Sep 01, 2016

Cleveland Police officers, in pursuit of a car that was stolen at gunpoint, were ordered to end their chase after it was discovered the initial crime happened too long ago.

Officers on the lookout for a stolen Chevy Impala found the vehicle pulling out of a Sunoco gas station at Superior Ave. and E. 74th St. around 3:10 a.m. Thursday.

They gave chase, but a supervisor can be heard on scanner traffic telling officers to stop because the vehicle was stolen three weeks prior, on August 8.

The car was found crashed and abandoned at Hough Ave. and E. 65th St. The two men inside got away and are still at large.

Steve Ashley, a retired police office in Michigan with expertise in police risk management, said it appeared officers were following the department’s strict protocol, which limits chases to instances involving suspected drunk drivers and violent felons, but which also gives discretion to supervisors.

That policy states that the “immediate danger of the pursuit” must be “less than the immediate or potential danger to the public if the suspect remains at large."

“It’s different if it’s 10 minutes after the event rather than three weeks after the event,” Ashley said. “So the supervisor, it sounds like, in this case the supervisor used a great deal of discretion and was reasonable in their decision to call off the pursuit.”

Read the department's policy here.

But Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Steve Loomis said not only is the department’s 2014 policy too strict, in this case he said the supervisor was too cautious since the car in question was involved in a violent felony.

“Even if you can’t prove that these are the guys that took it at gunpoint, they’re going to know who took it,” Loomis said.  “It’s going to lead you in the right direction to solve that aggravated robbery where a citizen, a gun was put in their face and their car was taken from them…That {policy} emboldens them and they’re going to go and rob the next person.”

A Cleveland Division of Police spokesman declined to answer questions about the policy on camera.


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