New York police love a car chase, and the cost is starting to be felt by the people they’re meant to protect.

From January to June of this year, the NYPD has engaged in 625 vehicle pursuits. That’s more chases than the last five years combined according to the New York publication The City. Apparently, there is no on-the-books change that would explain the sudden surge:

The surge comes without any change to the NYPD patrol guide procedure that dictates the limited circumstances where vehicle pursuits are allowed, given New York’s dense urban environment.

NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell has been unapologetic since THE CITY first reported the expansion of the aggressive tactic that coincided with his appointment in December as the third highest-ranking person in the police department, after the commissioner and chief of department. as chief in December.

Chell has said the risky tactic is a necessary response to the proliferation of all-terrain vehicles, illegal scooters and “ghost cars” with illicit license plates that are contributing both to dangerous streets and gun violence.

“With the enforcement of more moving summonses and car stops, and people thinking they can take off on us? Those days are over,” he said during a press conference at police headquarters in lower Manhattan when asked earlier this month about the car-chase surge of the first half of this year.

Every department now has captains monitoring a citywide channel dedicated to car chases. The move was encouraged by the top police officers, and has turned into a “free for all.” But not every police officer believes the move is right for city safety or for the officers involved:

“Everybody hears that,” the official said. “When you hear a pursuit like that, you hear a plate nearby … everyone starts pursuing,” he added. “And that’s a big practical change from our actual pursuit policy.”

Retired NYPD Lieutenant John D. Macari, who co-hosts a podcast called “New York’s Finest: Retired & Unfiltered,” is a proponent of proactive policing, but believes the progressive bent of the city’s politicians often makes it too risky to engage in.

Macari said on a recent episode that Chell’s heart seems to be in the right place when it comes to pursuits, but that he was putting the lives and careers of the young cops carrying out his orders at risk.

“I think anything short of a terrorist attack, a child abduction, a murderer who has the potential to murder others that same day — I would not be involved in vehicle pursuits,” he said.

“From a public safety standpoint, I don’t want the cops racing down my block to go get somebody that has a suspended registration, or even possibly an illegal firearm in the car that he didn’t use,” he added. “I don’t want to risk my family getting killed by either that guy fleeing or the cops.”

And people certainly do get killed by car chases. At least six civilians have died since August 2022 and three have been critically injured. Not shocking at all. The nonprofit FairWarning estimates around 20 percent of police chase-related deaths are bystanders.

The problem isn’t just in New York; South Texas police were involved with over 1,000 car chases last year, leading to 30 deaths. Michigan police have killed about 60 civilians over five years with car chases.

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