Log Cabin Chronicles

Why risk innocent lives?

Publisher, The Chronicle
Barton, Vermont

POSTED: 07.24.06

Every once in a while we come upon an account of a high-speed police chase that makes us wonder. This is one of those weeks.

[The Chronicle] has a story about a 17-year-old who, police say, led them on a 38-mile chase through Derby, Charleston, Westmore, Barton, Orleans, and Brownington, Vermont before, his tires shredded by the spike strips police set in his path, the kid finally gave up.

In the document they filed to support the charges against the young driver, police emphasize the dangers involved in such a chase. Pursued and pursuer hit 100 miles an hour, went through Derby Village at speeds of between 50 and 70, and the young driver passed cars on blind curves and hills.

The police caught up with him, at last, and made their point: Running from the cops is a dumb idea. It ís an important point, and driving it home, so to speak, is no doubt one reason police hate to give up on a high-speed chase.

But what about the people in the cars that could have been just around that curve, just over the brow of that blind hill, or just cruising through the village on a busy Friday afternoon? A head-on collision is a high price to pay for the capture of a runaway 17-year-old.

At one point on the interstate, the State Police officer who first gave chase got within two car lengths of the car, close enough, he said, to read its license plate.

What if he had broken off the chase at that point, and gone to see the car's owner later?

Maybe we need a law that says the owner of a car that runs from police is the presumed driver, unless he or she can prove otherwise.

It wouldn't be perfect. It wouldn't give police the occasional satisfaction of proving that they are absolute monarchs of the road. But it might make life a little safer for the rest of us.


Copyright © 2007 Chris Braithwaite/Barton Chronicle/07.06