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Vehicle pursuit ends in tragedy

The Minnesota State Patrol is under some scrutiny after a chase ended with a vehicle crashing into a playground and seriously injuring three siblings.
The pursuit apparently started on Interstate 94 in the metro area, and tragically ended when the driver of the pursued SUV exited the freeway, entered a neighborhood and ran through some tennis courts and a swing set outside Jenny Lind Elementary School.
The vehicle hit three children, critically injuring one and severely injuring another while the third suffered less serious injuries. The three children were playing in the park under the care of their father while they waited for their mother, who was taking a test for a class — a typical family outing that ended with shattering, and possibly life-changing, consequences.
It’s unknown how fast the vehicles were traveling, either on the interstate or in the residential area where the pursuit ended.
The question that comes to mind is this: is a speeder worth pursuing? At what point does law enforcement end a chase and let the suspect go?
The State Patrol, like most law enforcement agencies, has in place a policy outlining when a pursuit should be terminated, and reasons include safety, the level of the offense and whether the suspect is known and can be located later.
But no policy is going to cover every situation, and it’s unknown why troopers continued to pursue the suspect into a residential neighborhood. We do know, however, that the same vehicle was the subject of a pursuit a few days earlier and that chase was terminated. The fact that the same vehicle was the subject to two different pursuits begs the question: what did the driver do beside speeding that he was so adamant about avoiding law officers?
At a news conference Monday, a State Patrol spokesman said: “Every situation is different. That’s up to the trooper or the supervisor listening to the radio at the time.”
It is sad that this particular pursuit ended in a tragedy. The State Patrol and other agencies will no doubt scrutinize the situation and, hopefully, adjust policies and procedures so that such an accident can be avoided in the future.
But we also need to remember that it wasn’t the State Patrol that created this situation, it was the driver who fled, and who should ultimately be held responsible. The driver in this case is being held without bail while facing charges of criminal vehicular operation. That’s how it should be and, hopefully, it will provide an example to others who may think that trying to outrun the long arm of the law is preferrable to facing the consequences of a speeding ticket.