Twin Cities police chases highlight policy differences

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Multiple recent high-speed police chases in the Twin Cities area are drawing attention to the varying procedures police departments have when it comes to pursuits.

Court documents allege a fleeing driver last week ran through more than 20 stop signs and reached 80 mph (129 kph) before he crashed his vehicle into a Minneapolis playground and injured three kids, Minnesota Public Radio reports . The State Patrol is investigating whether troopers followed a policy that discourages pursuing nonviolent offenders.

Cmdr. Rick Gabler is with the Brooklyn Center Police Department. He said his officers heard of the speeding incident but didn’t engage because the department’s policy says traffic offenses don’t meet the requirements for a pursuit.

Bloomington Police Department Deputy Chief Mike Hartley said one of his officers stopped pursuing a vehicle last week. The officer tried to pull the vehicle over, but it sped away at 100 mph (161 kph), according to a criminal complaint. The officer chased the driver for more than 3 miles (5 kilometers) before stopping, Hartley said.

Pursuits can be dangerous, so knowing when to engage is important, he said.

“The state mandates that you go through driver’s training every five years,” Hartley said. “As a department we made the decision many years ago to make it every three years, just because we think it’s that important.”

An Edina police officer pursued a motorcycle last week after recording it going 74 mph (119 kph) in a 55-mph (89-kph) zone, court documents said. The officer pursued the 21-year-old driver for almost 17 miles (27 kilometers), reaching speeds of up to 130 mph (209 kph). The officer ended the pursuit.

The driver was later found after crashing his vehicle. He was charged with felony fleeing a peace officer.

The Edina department’s policy states pursuits should end when “the danger created by the pursuit outweighs the public interest in immediate apprehension.”