Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Pensacola Police Change Pursuit Police

The Pensacola Police Department has changed its pursuit policy as a result of a chase that left a bicyclist dead Oct. 3.

Victor Steen, 17, tried to elude Pensacola police Officer Jerald Ard, who spotted the teen on a bicycle at a construction site at Cervantes and T streets. Ard fired a Taser stun gun from the window of his moving car while chasing Steen.

Steen fell into the path of the cruiser and was hit by the car.

The change announced Tuesday prohibits officers from chasing vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians through apartment complexes and other heavily populated areas — like mall parking lots — parks and school grounds, in police cars.

Officers should attempt to make arrests by setting up perimeters using adjacent roadways, Pensacola Assistant Police Chip Simmons said.

When pursuing bicyclists and pedestrians on roadways, officers should try to keep at a safe distance from the fleeing suspect in an effort to prevent the suspect from being hurt, Simmons said.

"We wouldn't expect an officer to stop pursuing a dangerous felon," Simmons said. "If the guy is shooting a gun, the officer has do whatever he has to do stop him. He can deviate from the policy as long as he has a justifiable reason."

In October, the Police Department announced a revision to its Taser policy as a result of the fatal incident. Simmons sent a memo saying officers are not allowed to fire stun guns out of or into moving vehicles.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement continues to investigating Steen's death.

Ard was placed on administrative leave with pay immediately after the incident. He returned to work Oct. 13 and was assigned administrative work for the patrol division.

"It's unfortunate for everyone that this process takes a long time, but we all want a thorough review," Police Chief John Mathis said.

No comments: