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  1. #1
    Terminator's Avatar
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    After Trooper crashes killing two, Illinois State Police drastically changes there emergency driving policy

    BELLEVILLE, Ill. - Illinois State Police say the high-speed crash of a trooper's cruiser that killed two Collinsville sisters last year has prompted dramatic policy changes.

    State Police Director Larry Trent announced Friday troopers must follow a four-tiered response system that limits how fast they can drive.

    Under the first level, called a "code one," troopers are limited to following traffic laws. Officers operating under codes two and three can drive faster than the speed limit, but must call a supervisor before exceeding 20 miles over the speed limit.

    And only supervisors can issue a "code red," directing troopers to drive as fast as necessary, with no limit, State Police Lt. Scott Compton said. Those cases will later be reviewed by a committee, he said.

    The agency said Illinois is only the second state in the nation to restrict trooper speeds.

    Troopers also will be required to use a handsfree device with cell phones. And state police policy now specifies that they cannot turn in-car video cameras off while responding to emergency calls.

    The changes are a direct result of a car crash on Interstate 64 last November, Trent said. Trooper Matt Mitchell lost control of his cruiser while driving 126 mph, crossing the median and hitting head on a car carrying 18-year-old Jessica Uhl and her 13-year-old sister Kelli.

    "I am convinced that emergency response driving, whether it is police, fire, or ambulance, must change," Trent said. "The long-standing culture of response at all costs is no longer acceptable within the Illinois State Police."

    Before the public announcement Friday, Trent told the Uhls' mother, Kim Dorsey, of the changes during a meeting with her lawyer, Thomas Q. Keefe.

    "If these new policies save lives, then Jessica and Kelli died so that lives could saved," Dorsey said. "Well, that's a great tribute to their lives."

    Dorsey has filed a $24 million lawsuit against the state and state police in the Illinois Court of Claims.

    A second lawsuit was filed last week against Mitchell by a Fayetteville couple who say they suffered leg injuries in the multiple pileup caused by the trooper's crash with the Uhls' car.

    State police have relieved 29-year-old Mitchell of duty and he isn't receiving worker's compensation. He's scheduled to stand trial early next year on two charges of reckless homicide in St. Clair County Circuit Court. He has pleaded not guilty.

  2. #2
    TXCharlie's Avatar
    TXCharlie is offline Former & Future Reserve Officer
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    So if they clock a speeder going 100 MPH, they have to ask permission before exceeding the speed limit to overtake him (even if it's not technically a "chase")?

    By the time they make the call, explain the circumstances, and get permission to exceed the limit, the speeder will be hopelessly too far ahead to ever catch him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TXCharlie View Post
    So if they clock a speeder going 100 MPH, they have to ask permission before exceeding the speed limit to overtake him (even if it's not technically a "chase")?

    By the time they make the call, explain the circumstances, and get permission to exceed the limit, the speeder will be hopelessly too far ahead to ever catch him.
    Officer safety should always come first.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDawg View Post
    Officer safety should always come first.
    Amen to that, and shame on anyone who disagrees. It's unfortunate that we are getting to a point in our culture that such reactionary restrictions are put in place. In California, regardless of any agency policy, state law requires LEO's to drive with "due regard". 90 MPH might be reasonably "safe" out in dry conditions out on I-10 in the middle of the desert, but ridiculous through my city. We don't do anyone else any good by crashing before we get to our destination.
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  5. #5
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    It all depends on the situation, and what it calls for.

    My opinion is, unless an Officer is in trouble, I dont feel the need to go Mach 100

    Dont get me wrong, I will haul ass to calls if warranted but as I have been getting a little older, I have been slowing the roll. I see more of a need to get to the call reasonabably instead of being a call for someone to come and handle.

    I think when you start in LEO, its cool and fun to have all the cool shit on and drive fast but after you have done it enough and you see and hear of all the horror stories of officers killing people and getting sued and charged criminally, it kinda takes the fun out of it
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shoestring View Post
    I think when you start in LEO, its cool and fun to have all the cool shit on and drive fast but after you have done it enough and you see and hear of all the horror stories of officers killing people and getting sued and charged criminally, it kinda takes the fun out of it
    I lived that horror story, and live with the consequences every day. Driving unreasonably fast isn't worth it...for anything.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terminator View Post
    Driving unreasonably fast isn't worth it...for anything.
    There's also a difference between unreasonable speed and being prevented from driving at a very fast but reasonable speed because of inflexible rules that take too much time to wade through to get the o.k. The totality of the circumstances that decide if a certain speed is reasonable or not at any given time can change so fast, and an approval system can't possibly react anywhere near as fast. If an officer is driving recklessly, then the officer will have to answer to it, regardless of rules being in place or not.

    I understand having rules in place that guide officers in a manner that is supposed to help save lives and prevent accidents. But come up with rules that will be effective in allowing the appropriate response by officers to a situation as the situation develops, progresses, and/or regresses.
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    Quote Originally Posted by IndianaFuzz View Post
    There's also a difference between unreasonable speed and being prevented from driving at a very fast but reasonable speed because of inflexible rules that take too much time to wade through to get the o.k. The totality of the circumstances that decide if a certain speed is reasonable or not at any given time can change so fast, and an approval system can't possibly react anywhere near as fast. If an officer is driving recklessly, then the officer will have to answer to it, regardless of rules being in place or not.

    I understand having rules in place that guide officers in a manner that is supposed to help save lives and prevent accidents. But come up with rules that will be effective in allowing the appropriate response by officers to a situation as the situation develops, progresses, and/or regresses.
    I'm fully aware of that, and agree. I personally disagree with there new policy.

    However, I stand by my statement, and if you wreck a patrol car at 100mph and hit a billboard sign, can't walk initally, get rushed to the hospital, and end up with a broken back amongst other injuries, you will too.

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    We've seen a couple of lawsuits in the county related to fatal accidents in the course of pursuits here, and it has led to a comprehensive policy related to "code" responses for all the agencies here.

    We've had deputies get into accidents while running code. There isn't just the possibility of losing control of a vehicle due to speed, but equipment failure at high speed. A tire blow out at 100 mph is not pretty. Also, folks just don't yield to lights and sirens these days.

    I'm sure a lot of the policy is intended to assuage the public, after all, it was reckless driving that killed two young ladies. Whether it is applied by supervisors with the same vigor is a whole other story.
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  10. #10
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    This makes me think.....how often does everyone in here's departments have officers go through refresher EVO courses, and refresher pursuit policy trainings?
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    I wonder if talking to the supervisor trying to get permission is enough of a distraction while driving to make the situation more dangerous instead of less dangerous - You just don't have time to sit on the side of the road talking safely on the cell phone in those situations.

    I agree that there are a lot of situations where going 100 MPH is unreasonable, like on city streets, but I also think that there are a lot of situations where it's necessary and reasonably safe with good equipment - Especially on open highways, which we have a lot of in Texas.

    Admittedly even on an open highway though, you never know when someone is going to pull out in front of you instead of stopping, or change lanes unexpectedly, or you might have a defective tire. So I'm certainly not saying it's without risk - But I am saying that the officer needs to be the one who accesses the risk versus degree of necessity.

    In a lot of cases around here, any type of physical domestic violence situation, armed robbery, officer needing assistance, escape of a violent suspect, etc, is often considered reason enough to automatically exceed the speed limit, the degree of which has to be decided at the time, not in advance.

    That being said, on the only real 110+ MPH chase I was on (riding shotgun at the time), my FTO had me call the Sarge to give her the chance to ask us to break it off - Which she did as soon as County caught up with us, but that was a good five or ten minutes later after we were 20 miles or more outside our city.

    One other instance (130+ MPH) was enroute to a burglary in progress - But that was on open highway, and we had to cover a lot of distance. After we got on a county road, we backed it off considerably. Whether that speed was justified or not for a burglary where lives are not at stake is debatable, but a neighbor was threatening to shoot the burglars, if I recall correctly - That was months ago.

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    Terminator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TXCharlie View Post
    One other instance (130+ MPH) was enroute to a burglary in progress - But that was on open highway, and we had to cover a lot of distance.

    That is completely unacceptable, in my opinion, even considering the circumstance.

  13. #13
    TXCharlie's Avatar
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    I must admit, that was the fastest I've ever gone in my life - I don't think I'd go that fast.

    On the one & only Code 3 where I was actually driving, I didn't get over 80 on a 2-lane road.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TXCharlie View Post
    I must admit, that was the fastest I've ever gone in my life - I don't think I'd go that fast.

    I mean this in the nicest way possible. If you value your life, you shouldn't. Trust me, it isn't worth it.

  15. #15
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    My feeling about the whole thing is that you'll have plenty of opportunities to endanger yourself if you stay in law enforcement any length of time. Why do it needlessly? Going 130mph to a burglary is not smart. No property crime is worth an officer or an innocent parties' life. Preservation of life is our most sacred duty. That includes your life. A cop's family deserves nothing less.
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    Code Driving means one thing: My response is needed in a hurry in order to prevent the loss of life or injury. If I do not make it to the scene as a result of my driving I have done no one any good. I have driven the God awful speeds and I know now that the seconds gained would have been lost if I was reckless or careless. I just don't do it anymore, because I want to live. We all have to remember to think when we drive, and not just mash the pedal to the floor. I have let other co-workers pass me when they feel I'm not going fast enough, but when you have slick road conditions, poor manufactured tires and an 8 year old squad (as I used to), the excessive speed just isn't worth it.

    I am saddened that my state's "elite" police force feels it is necessary to place the responsibility of one trooper's actions in the hands of another who may not even be near the call, but that is the way they have chosen to handle it in order to avoid further lives lost and lawsuits. I truly believe that re-training for some troopers with a consistent, yearly EVOC roadcourse session would do wonders for them.
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    TXCharlie, having worked pursuits on the radio, I can tell you it takes mere seconds. It is a simple, brief, radio exchange.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TXCharlie View Post
    So if they clock a speeder going 100 MPH, they have to ask permission before exceeding the speed limit to overtake him (even if it's not technically a "chase")?

    By the time they make the call, explain the circumstances, and get permission to exceed the limit, the speeder will be hopelessly too far ahead to ever catch him.
    I talked to an ISP trooper about this. I think the policy only relates to calls for service and not other enfocement activities.
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    Jks9199 is offline The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    I have a hard time conceiving of a justification for driving 130+ to a burglary call. Maybe if it's burglary of an occupied dwelling...

    It's real simple. You're beyond useless if you wreck out and don't get there. Not only are you unable to help -- but your colleagues will have to deal with your crash. And they'll be distracted worrying about you while they're dealing with whatever it was that you were running hot for. I still remember the day that one of our lieutenants wrecked and nearly died on his motorcycle. Those of us working that day were pretty useless the rest of the day... Our minds weren't 100% on what we were doing.
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