|Mississippi "Pursuit Bill" awaits Governor's signature Back|
today and had an opportunity to study SB 2166
(Pursuit Bill) and I must say that it is nothing more than the legislative equivalent of
the oft quoted Law Enforcement lament of If the bad guys hadnt run this
wouldnt have happened. The total focus of the bill is on the punishment of
lawbreakers who flee. While it may be true that making the penalties stiffer may help to
discourage some who flee, experience has shown that stiffer penalties are only one part of
While CALEA does not specify how each of these issues should be handled, it does believe that such issues are critical to an acceptable pursuit policy and must be addressed for the agency to receive accreditation. The Mississippi bill requires only a part of one of the 10 critical areas be addressed. Hardly surprising since in the state of Mississippi only the Hattiesburg and Madison Police Departments are CALEA accredited. (In my home state of Florida there are 93 accredited agencies) A quote from the Madison PD website demonstrates the prestige and professionalism such accreditation conveys:
The often quoted Mississippi Law Enforcement argument that agencies must have wide discretion in policy making "because each agency has to work within different geographical settings and streets" is nothing more than a red-herring, as the CALEA standards show the argument is laughable and easily dismissed.
specifies such minimal and vague standards that the accountability portion is virtually
toothless. This is hardly surprising since Mississippi does not require agencies to make
their policies public claiming that it would reveal their "tactics' to fleeing
suspects. It is curious that the vast majority of the over 13,000 police agencies in the
United States do not share the same fear. Perhaps the real reason for the secrecy has more
to do with accountability than revealing "tactics."
In perhaps one of the most telling quotes about the bill Col. Marvin
Curtis, director of the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol, told the Jackson
Clarion-Ledger ,"Typically, if a person is going to run, he is going to flee
regardless of the consequences." Exactly why SB 2166 does little to promote public
safety. After a year of work by a legislature appointed commission the results are more
than a little disappointing-though not surprising. Sixteen of the nineteen members were
connected with law enforcement and it is evident that Mississippi Law Enforcement got
exactly what it wanted.
May 1, 2004
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