Cut to the chase

Police pursuit is a result of a driver's poor choice

  • Follow Editorials

It’s a raw tragedy that two young North Augusta brothers died in a car crash early Wednesday. But it’s an unmitigated outrage that anyone would blame law enforcement for their deaths.

The Richmond County deputy chasing Derrick Darden, 23, and Deante Darden, 22, across the Gordon Highway bridge into North Augusta after they fled the deputy in downtown Augusta “should have stopped,” their grieving mother says.

With all due respect to an understandably overwrought mother, the car chase should never have been started. And that was completely the Dardens’ doing.

Life is a series of choices. No matter what our anything-goes society wants you to believe, some choices are inherently bad or good. Helping save a dying person is good. Feeding the hungry. Treating others with respect. Showing responsibility at work or school or home. Abiding by the laws society has set out. Adhering to God’s law. These things and more are, by their very nature, good. Good for the individual, good for society, good morally.

Other choices are, by their nature, bad. Engaging in criminal activity. Endangering others. Disobeying lawful police orders. And, yes, attempting to elude officers at high speeds.

How this chase ended is a tragedy. That it started at all is a travesty. And the fault for neither of those can be laid at the feet of the deputy who was attempting to protect this community in the wee hours of the morning at great risk to himself.

We realize that high-speed chases have been a matter of great debate over the years nationally. And some jurisdictions – either because of their population density or other considerations – have differing policies regarding when to break off pursuit of a fleeing vehicle. But there’s nothing whatsoever in this case to suggest this officer violated either department policy or plain old horse sense in trying to stop this car.

Indeed, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office policies give officers sound and sensible guidelines surrounding such chases, while leaving them the discretion to do their job of protecting society.

The officer had stopped this car on Reynolds Street after observing erratic driving that was also allegedly over the speed limit. When the driver sped off, the deputy had an obligation to try to find out why. Some major crimes have been solved by “routine” traffic stops.

What if this had been another car, for instance, and a person inside was in mortal danger at the hands of a criminal? Given the opportunity to nab such a suspect, an officer surely would’ve been faulted for not doing so if, down the road, the worst had happened to the victim inside.

Moreover, if word got out that officers just allowed anyone to escape justice by outrunning them, you’d only have more high-speed crashes – and a criminal element encouraged to endanger the public.

In addition, this particular chase occurred after 2 a.m., on streets largely devoid of other traffic.

Law enforcement officers must be allowed to exercise such discretion, as this one did.

And in our concern over how a high-speed chase ends, we must not dismiss how it begins.

Comments (8) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
scoopdedoop64
2488
Points
scoopdedoop64 01/11/13 - 01:42 am
8
0
totally agree

Yes , I agree. The fault begins and ends with these two young men's poor choice to run from police.

specsta
7137
Points
specsta 01/11/13 - 02:16 am
1
7
The Final Outcome

ACES, you make some valid points. However, would we still be having this same conversation if innocent bystanders had died? If someone getting off the late shift at work had become a victim of this high-speed pursuit?

A few months ago, a disgruntled worker shot and killed a co-worker outside of the Empire State building. The police responded with a hail a bullets, accidentally shooting nine innocent bystanders, wounding them. Fortunately, none suffered a fatal injury. But what if that had not been the case? Is firing multiple rounds into a crowd, possibly killing several innocent civilians in order to kill one bad guy, a good idea on the part of police officers?

High-speed pursuits endanger everyone involved and possibly innocent folks who are not involved. Two brothers are dead. We will never understand the reason behind their actions and can only speculate. However, any police pursuit should be done with the utmost consideration of a fatal outcome, and whether or not the level of offense warrants a final verdict of death for those involved.

Riverman1
93345
Points
Riverman1 01/11/13 - 05:07 am
5
2
No one is blaming law enforcement

No one is blaming law enforcement. Matter of fact most of those against high speed chases note the danger to law enforcement with these chases. Almost half end in an accident. Officers, innocent bystanders and the runners are all at risk. Many seasoned officers will tell you this is the last thing they want to be involved in.

I recall one incident not long ago in Richmond County where an innocent driver was killed after being struck by the police car in pursuit of a runner. In one case the officer had the drivers' license in his possession.

A few quick points that have been posted by me in the past after reading studies from a site of the families of victims of innocent bystanders of high speed chases who have been killed. Most runners have done nothing more than commit a driving offense. No doubt they are idiots to run, but they are usually scared kids or a guy who has had a little too much to drink and doesn't want to go to jail.

You ask what about if something else were going on in that car and follow with routine traffic stops have solved major crimes. If that's the logic, why not just randomly stop every car we can and see how many crimes we can solve? The fact is that car is most likely not involved in a violent crime. Lastly, when a no chase policy is implemented, people don't suddenly turn into runners. Jurisdictions that have implemented the policy have noted the statistics.

If we know almost half the chases are going to end in an accident and the officer and public are at great risk we should rethink the chase. Many runners can be caught in other ways, by slow pursuit, radioing ahead and IDing the car.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 01/11/13 - 07:41 am
7
2
If you ban the high speed
Unpublished

If you ban the high speed pursuit, all you do is encourage criminals to run from the police.

dstewartsr
20393
Points
dstewartsr 01/11/13 - 08:11 am
3
1
RM1, there are an infinite series of "what if..."

which at the final analysis are nothing more than useless, as they didn't happen. Running from the police for whatever reason is stupid, endangers lives, and more often than not results in the perpetrator in custody with a bill of serious charges. I agree with the article and Angela's point; it's been shown to be true in so-called enlightened policy areas.

dstewartsr
20393
Points
dstewartsr 01/11/13 - 08:15 am
2
0
"No one is blaming law enforcement."

??? Go back and read the third sentence of the article.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 01/11/13 - 09:28 am
0
0
I believe we
Unpublished

should play by the "gotcha" rule. If you can murder someone and get out the door without being caught, "foget bout it". If you can rob and rape someone and get out the door without being caught, " foget bout it". Make the citizenry responsible for knowing these things are occurring and it's a winner takes all. Just follow eric holder's example: arm the criminals and let the public pay for it. With their money or with their lives.

Darby
29196
Points
Darby 01/11/13 - 11:47 am
3
0
Respect law enforcement personnel....

.... until there is valid reason not to. Can't find valid reason in this case. End of story.

Austin Rhodes
2970
Points
Austin Rhodes 01/12/13 - 09:04 am
1
0
Riverman1
93345
Points
Riverman1 01/12/13 - 02:50 pm
0
0
Keep in mind, the vast

Keep in mind, the vast majority of runners do not have bodies in the trunk. You would do better stopping all vehicles and searcing for bodies in the trunk if that's the reason for chases. The logic doesn't fit.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs