Tuesday, August 07, 2007

so your eyes can't see

A few opinions have been doing the rounds lately and I thought I might put my humble two cents in:

Police chases. Look people, we all agree that the Police by and large are chasing in their suped-up Holdens Bad & Ebil miscreants. And we all want them to catch the little bastards.


But there is a risk calculation that needs to be performed. Chasing someone at high speeds inevitably increases the risk that someone is going to come to grief. If a chase is abandoned then the bad guy might get away, but equally they may also slow the heck down, go to ground somewhere and stop being such a danger to the rest of the populace.

Of course, that's where element of calculation comes in. If you started chasing someone because they were already driving exceedingly dangerously, or because they kidnapped someone ... you get the picture - there may be good reasons to continue inspite of the danger inherent to a chase. But we have to expect that good cops will make that calculation, and good cops should also expect that their decisions to be reviewed or questioned. The fact that the bad guy has initiated the situation is not the most important consideration - it is the safety of the general public that is paramount. In today's paper someone wrote a letter saying: "... if people did not run from the police, there would not be a chase", which misses the point entirely; the police have a range of actions they can take, of which chasing a fleeing suspect is but one. And if police hadn't taken up the chase there wouldn't be a critically injured boy in hospital.

Chasing an erratic suspect through city streets is in my opinion somewhat akin to firing a gun at a suspect in a crowded pedestrian mall. In a lot of cases it is an reckless and unjustifiable action.

... and speaking of reckless and unjustifiable behaviours, the video for Snow Patrol's Open Your Eyes is fantastic*:

The footage is taken from a 1976 short film called C'├ętait un rendez-vous, and it is not staged - the guy actually drove through those streets, at speed, putting the lives of early morning Parisians at risk. The director was even arrested when the film was released (although never charged). The director was, without a doubt, a complete prick. But it's a brilliant piece of film nonetheless.

* This is second in my series of songs-I-like-with-great-crescendo. The Crescendo in this case kicks in exactly at minute 4. Smashing.

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