If you try to escape in one of those high-speed televised police chases in Los Angeles — “an ultimate act of disrespect” to authority — you have a small chance of getting away.
About 18 percent of drivers fleeing police do succeed, a top LAPD official told City News Service.
“However, once a helicopter is involved in the chase, it’s almost impossible to escape,” said Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Andy Smith. Anyone thinking about trying to make a run for it should know that Los Angeles has more helicopters in its fleet — 17 — than any other city police department in the nation.
And that, he says, is a big reason why motorists who ignore demands by officers to stop their vehicles are eventually caught.
“Helicopters are a tremendous asset,” Smith said, adding that helicopter crews can direct patrol cars and quickly set up a perimeter.
The LAPD had 345 pursuits in 2014, he said. Eighty-two percent of them ended with arrests.
Smith said he thought some people may be leading police on pursuits as an act of defiance of authority.
“It’s an ultimate act of disrespect,” Smith said.
Smith urged people to cooperate with officers who are conducting traffic stops, and then seek remedies later in the court system.
“People should just pull over,” Smith said. “Nobody likes to get stopped — I myself have been stopped, both before and after I became a police officer.”
Police helicopters aren’t the only such aircraft to follow chases. TV stations rely on their own helicopters to follow those chases and broadcast live video of the pursuits. Los Angeles was one of the first big cities in the nation to start following police chases live on television years ago.
Some media people initially criticized the idea as not providing serious news to viewers, but the chases became so popular with viewers that most stations joined in with their own coverage.
— City News Service