‘Innocent People Can’t Keep Dying’

Tom Gleason
Tom Gleason
After a number of fatal police chases in New Zealand resulting in the loss of one or more innocent victims, the world is starting to question whether or not police need to change their pursuit policies?

Retired Police Captain, Tom Gleason of Tallahassee, Florida, helps us answer this question during a New Zealand podcast. Gleason is a member of PursuitSAFETY’s Advisory Board and has a passion for law enforcement training. A trainer for major academies in Florida, Gleason teaches officer safety in such areas as firearms, patrol procedures, and vehicular pursuit policies.

Carmen Yanko pictured above.
The podcast discusses the police chase that took place in New Zealand, taking another innocent victim’s life, Carmen Yanko. She was driving to the market when a car fleeing police crossed the center line at 5.40 am and crashed head-on into her vehicle on State Highway 6 at Hope.

Tom Gleason had this to say:

“…we first started seeing changes in pursuits probably about 20 years ago with certain restrictions as far as speeding and minor offenses…They came about after the public’s outcry about the number of innocent people that were losing their lives in pursuits such as speeding vehicles. So from that, we have seen drastic reductions in the number of injuries, the number of accidents, the number of fatalities resulting from pursuits…”

There were about 500 pursuits last year, up 60% from 2014, 1 in 5 being results in a wreck; totaling 700 car wrecks last year. 

Gleason states that when deciding to pursue a vehicle, police need to ask these questions:

    • Do we have a tag number?
    • Can we follow up later on with these tag numbers?
    • Do we have cameras on that will identify this person?
    • Are there other ways we can identify this person later on?
    • If so then there is no reason to chase.
  “It’s called the 360 approach,” says Gleason “…weighing out the facts versus the risks for the general public by chasing” because if we don’t weigh out these factors we increase the risk factor for everyone around. We do not always make clear decisions when our adrenaline starts increasing, that’s why we need to have policies that are somewhat restrictive as well as police pursuit review boards and advisory boards.