NC Highway Patrol makes changes to chase policies to reduce fatalities.
Before, multiple local agencies and state agencies could all chase down a runaway driver together.
Now, only troopers or the local agency will be in pursuit, so there will be fewer cruisers flying between terrified drivers.
This year, Channel 9 has flown over dozens of heart-pounding police chases in Charlotte. Some ended when the driver finally crashed into someone.
“It can be quite dangerous to innocent bystanders,” said driver Ken Barnhorst.
The new changes mean troopers will handle certain chases differently.
For instance, in Rowan County recently, local police, deputies and troopers were all trying to stop a driver who crashed into four innocent drivers during a chase.
Troopers said a second big change is they won’t be allowed to do Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) maneuvers — which is where they bump the back of a vehicle to spin it out — if they’re driving more than 55 miles per hour.
“A little too late,” said Barnhorst.
Barnhorst told Channel 9 he wishes that the new PIT policy was in place back in March during a controversial chase in Anson County, but troopers said that was when they could do PIT maneuvers at any speed.
Highway Patrol still isn’t saying how fast troopers were driving when they did a PIT maneuver on the van during the high-speed chase.
The PIT maneuver flipped the van, killing the two teen girls who were inside.
“That’s a shame. That pursuit should’ve been stopped,” said Barnhorst.
Troopers said they hope the new policies will keep dangerous chases from hurting the wrong people.
“We have lowered the speeds to reduce fatalities to the violator, and also to prevent possible harm to the trooper involved,” said Trooper Ray Pierce.
So, why the changes and why now? Highway Patrol said the new changes followed their change in administration this year.
Troopers said they will make an exception to their policies when their chase target is a dangerous felon, such as a bank robber. In those cases, they will work together with local agencies.