|KANSAS CITY REEVALUATES PURSUIT POLICY
On July 10, 2003, a jealous, intoxicated man purposely ran over his ex-girlfriends boy friend in Overland Park, Kansas, a Kansas City suburb. The boy friend was not seriously hurt. The girl friend called the police and a chase ensued. The Kansas City, Missouri police took over when the chase drifted over the state line into Missouri. At the same time Toni Sena, her husband and a friend were leisurely riding their bicycles on a quiet neighborhood side street. They suddenly heard screeching tires and sirens. Within seconds, a white pickup truck careened around the corner, followed by pursuing police cars, and headed straight for the three cyclists. The pickup struck Toni, throwing her over the hood. As she descended, she hit the hood and fell to the street. The driver ran over her and kept going. One police car stopped to give aid and the others continued the chase. Toni died at the hospital of internal bleeding shortly thereafter. The driver was soon arrested near his home a few blocks away.
As Tonis friends, we were not only devastated, we were confused and angry. A few of us decided to direct these emotions toward a positive good. For weeks, we researched the topic of police pursuits around the country through the Internet and through phone conversations with experts, both citizen and police. We also studied the Kansas City policy. Local television, radio and print media became interested. We distributed a petition, asking for a review of the Kansas City policy, and received hundreds of signatures in a matter of a few weeks.
NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS
With the support of the mayor, the police department and the Police Board of Commissioners, our group was able to make a presentation to the Board in which we requested the formation of a citizen/police task force to review the Kansas City policy. We stressed our friendly, constructive intentions. We presented a plethora of statistics and suggested the need for a more restrictive policy as well as the development of an effective pursuit training program. I must say that PURSUITWATCH.ORG was the font of our education.
The Board was in agreement and passed a resolution allowing for the task force. Chief Rick Easley, Deputy Chief Jim Corwin, several officers and patrolmen, the president of the Board and all involved have been positive, cooperative and a supreme pleasure. Our committee is comprised of five private citizens, 11 representatives from the police department, including Col. Jim Corwin, and various members of the Board. We have had three meetings so far lasting two and a half hours each. General philosophies and objectives were discussed initially and detailed discussion quickly followed. Wonderful progress has been made and changes will occur (I will give a later update with specifics). Lives will be saved, we feel fulfilled and Toni would be proud.
The wonder of our experience has been the ability of the public and the government to work in a compatible manner toward a common goal. No one is more desirous of both an improved pursuit policy and training program than the Kansas City Police Department. With the help of several, we are jointly making a difference. I applaud the City, the task force and Jim Phillips. It has truly been a cooperative effort.
Kansas City, Missouri
October 23, 2003
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