Minneapolis Police Department looks at putting limits on high-speed chases

June 10, 2019 06:29 PM

The Minneapolis Police Department is considering placing limits on when officers can chase fleeing suspects after a series of chases that ended in tragedy in the region.

The new approach to police pursuits comes after 5 INVESTIGATES found the majority of police chases in the state start over minor traffic violations like speeding, or petty crime like shoplifting.

In an effort to cut down on the number of high-speed pursuits, Minneapolis police may shift to a violent-only chase policy, where officers would only pursue suspects who are wanted for certain violent offenses. Minneapolis police could not provide an interview on the issue Monday.

RELATED: Expert on high-speed chases for low-level violations: 'Let them go'

That type of policy already went into effect earlier this spring at the Minneapolis Park Police Department, whose policies typically mirrors the Minneapolis Police Department.

“We don’t want anybody getting hurt,” Minneapolis Park Police Department Chief Jason Ohotto said.

View various agencies' chase policies by clicking on the departments below:

Ohotto said he became irritated by seeing that most chases were happening due to stolen vehicles – and many times it was a teenager behind the wheel.

“One of the things that I thought about is the risk to our officers, the risk to public safety, the risk to the offender, didn’t necessarily warrant chases when we are talking about stolen cars and teenagers,” he said.

The Minneapolis Park Police Department's new policy limits chases to only serious violent crime like homicide, aggravated assault, robbery and kidnapping.

A chase last June involving the State Patrol illustrates the dangers of high-speed pursuits. That chase began because a suspect refused to pull over for speeding. It ended on a Minneapolis playground after the suspect hit and injured three kids.

Squad car video reviewed by 5 INVESTIGATES reveals a trooper, moments after the crash, said the chase “Should have been called off.”

The State Patrol said its troopers followed procedure. After a six month review, it issued a new policy on chases, but it appears to still give officers wide discretion on whether or not to chase.

This winter, 5 INVESTIGATES found that around 13 percent of police agencies in the state have restrictive chase policies – meaning they limit pursuit to only those where the suspect is wanted for a violent offense.  

“There is a wide continuum right now across Minnesota on pursuit policy, but I do think that you see departments becoming more restrictive on pursuit policies and really that’s a recognition of public safety,” Ohotto said.

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Ryan Raiche

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