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Hot Pursuit: St. Louis County Officer Explains Police Chase Policies, Practices

St. Louis County police officer Benjamin Granda joined producer Alex Heuer on St. Louis on the Air. April 16, 2019
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

High-speed police chases make for great television. Last month, FOX 2 helicopters picked up a chase that began with a carjacking in Illinois and ended with two suspects being arrested after they fled the vehicle in south St. Louis County.

But how and why officers decide to pursue suspects has been the subject of increasing scrutiny, including a recent St. Louis Post Dispatch investigationof St. Ann’s particularly aggressive pursuit policies within the municipality. On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis County police officer Benjamin Granda joined producer Alex Heuer to discuss how officers decide when or when not to chase down a suspect, and how attitudes toward chases have shifted recently.

“Our pursuit policy places a lot of a fluidity on different options for the officer to control,” he said. “If I believe through investigative techniques that I can identify that driver, that fleeing driver, and that he or she can be apprehended and held accountable at a later time, I think that our policy and most reasonable people would say that it's much safer to let that person go and we'll get them later on when we can control the situation.”

Granda said that police policies for pursuits have become increasingly focused on safety in an attempt to minimize the danger that high-speed chases can pose to pedestrians and other people on the road.

“I think we have to be very careful about turning our roadways and freeways into bumper cars. A lot of the checks and balances in our pursuit policy have to do with keeping the public safe,” he said. “Pursuits are some of the most dangerous things that we can be involved in, and they're very dangerous for the officer, for the suspect in the fleeing vehicle, but also dangerous for everybody who is just going about their lives uninvolved in any way, shape or form.”

Listen to the full conversation:

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. “St. Louis on the Air” producers Alex Heuer, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan andJon Lewis give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.

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Jon Lewis was the production intern at St. Louis Public Radio from January to May 2019. Originally from Pelham, New York, Jon came to St. Louis to attend Washington University in 2015. Previously, Jon has interned for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Eight by Eight, a soccer magazine based in Brooklyn.