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Kohut: Real Answer To Police Pursuit Is Technology

April 1st, 2017 · 3 Comments · Law Enforcement, News and Events

Bridgeport block watch resident Jeff Kohut, a 2011 mayoral candidate, weighs in on the new regional law enforcement approach to pursue suspects in violation of motor vehicle laws, asserting “What is really needed, as I’ve been preaching verbally and in print in the media for years, is better use of technology in detecting/tracking criminal behavior.”

From Kohut:

Regarding the newly announced, Bridgeport/inter-municipality police-pursuit policy in which the police departments of all of the cooperating municipalities would have cross-border, carte-blanche police- pursuit prerogatives, there are obvious contraindications that should obviate such a simplistic, unqualified policy.

Indeed, the word “pursuit” implies elements of extreme stupidity in this initiative.

I recall a “pursuit” situation of burglary suspects (who turned out to be “Valley” residents) by Trumbull police, from Trumbull into Bridgeport, several years ago in which the suspects’ vehicle, being pursued by Trumbull police on Trumbull Avenue in Bridgeport at a very high rate of speed, hit a natural “hump” on Trumbull Avenue, launched into the air, and landed on the car of two, innocent Trumbull Gardens residents who were crushed and killed by the force of the suspects’ vehicle landing upon/impacting their vehicle.

I also recall a police chase of robbery suspects down East Main Street in Bridgeport (about ten years ago) where a car with innocent people exiting a gas station was impacted by the suspects’ vehicle, causing the vehicle to flip over and causing serious injuries to the occupants. Only one of the suspects was apprehended at the scene, with the other able to escape/evade police on foot.

There are many other examples of local police pursuits resulting in injuries and deaths of innocent persons.

And I recall a Trumbull resident dismissing the deaths of the innocent persons in Bridgeport in the Trumbull Avenue incident as (paraphrasing) acceptable collateral casualties per the necessity of effective law enforcement. Really? A simple burglary, protection of “property,” merits the deaths of innocent persons?!

I know many police officers, and regarding police pursuits (especially), most of the veteran officers don’t believe most pursuits are cost-effective, with respect to their effects in protecting life and limb of citizens. Indeed, they consider most pursuits as being contraindicated.

What is really needed, as I’ve been preaching verbally and in print in the media for years, is better use of technology in detecting/tracking criminal behavior, including burglary, robbery, etc. Strategically located camera systems could effectively track crime and inter-municipality movement of criminals and also provide invaluable assistance in aiding in pursuits where it is likely the pursued are intent on causing deadly injury if not intercepted.

And, as far as DUI and distracted driving, strategic location and operation of video surveillance technology in conjunction with properly planned and operated checkpoints is the best tactic for addressing the former, and strategic surveillance and interception methods would be the preferable way of dealing with latter. Pursuit of DUI suspects is very risky for other innocent drivers/pedestrians if rapid interception by police isn’t likely. Prevention, by way of live monitoring and video surveillance of known sources of origin of DUI drivers is a tactic that should be given priority in allocating resources for addressing DUI.

The ‘burbs are a little too eager to make cross-border pursuit an acceptable policy. The ‘burbs have demonstrated, in too many ways on too many occasions, that they value their property and lifestyles over Bridgeport lives.

Quite frankly, as a Bridgeport citizen, I find it quite discomfiting that Bridgeport City Hall and Bridgeport PD would buy into this without appropriate public airing/feedback.

And, per the reference to the intensive use of technology as an adjunct to traditional modes of police patrol/surveillance as well as suspect pursuit/apprehension; I must cite an effort initiated by this writer in which I arranged for a high-level meeting between the UB Computer Engineering school and the Fabrizi Administration/BPD to explore the development and implementation of a citywide, public-safety video surveillance system. The meeting was set for 1PM and the City/BPD left this writer and UB representatives waiting until 2PM before they showed up, only to allow BPD representatives to dominate the meeting and override the suggestions of UB engineers and civilian proponents of the initiative. Some observers involved in that meeting and the larger initiative thought the implications of the City/BPD posture/behavior had obvious, disturbing motives and implications.

In any event, the Connecticut Post et al. should have a few critical editorial thoughts on this initiative. (Indeed, Councilperson Vizzo-Paniccia’s liability and legal concerns present primary, pragmatic considerations.)

To me, it looks more like the ‘burbs looking to protect their property rather than in safeguarding “regional” lives. And the reliance on traditional “pursuit” tactics would imply extreme stupidity on the parts of policy/decision makers in any event. (Truly, there is way, way too much “stupid” going around in Bridgeport/regional/state politics in Connecticut lately, in the Governor’s office, GA, and just about every town hall. Could it be a politically transmitted virus?)

Two points should be obvious to Bridgeporters in the context of this new “regional,” public-safety cooperation initiative involving Bridgeport: 1) Bridgeport is always the “target,” rather than the beneficiary of any “regional” initiatives and should always take a caveat emptor approach to involvement in “regional” agreements. 2) It is time for Bridgeport public-safety policy makers to fully embrace technology, even if it means confronting strong political resistance. The safety/well-being of the public and fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers should be the primary concerns of City Hall.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Andrew C Fardy

    The ‘burbs are looking for excuses that will allow them to go after minorities who would dare enter their shithole towns.

  • Donald Day

    In 1997, Trumbull police were pursuing two burglary suspects into Bridgeport when their pickup truck slammed into a car killing one woman and leaving another person severely disabled. Both were innocent bystanders. Mayor Ganim, don’t the residents of Bridgeport deserve not to have to relive this type of tragedy again just to placate the white suburban police departments? C’mon Mayor, act like you care even if you don’t.

  • Robert Teixeira

    Cause and Effect.

    “The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.”–Albert Einstein

    Jeff, your genius has no boundaries, unlike cities and towns.
    I must channel my inner cosmic energy in pursuit of a rational thought to combat your commentary that has made me dumber after being read. Like a joint that kills brain cells, your commentary has placed me into a comatose state. One that can only rival Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke, without the beneficial effect of getting the munchies.
    www .youtube.com/watch?v=CWxgfTMLtc0

    Hence the epiphany of cause and effect, the cops are not the cause of the pursuit but the effect of a crime, crime can’t be hindered without pursuit, the cause of not pursuing criminals will have the effect of creating more criminals, who will not be pursued.

    Not wanting to get into a pissing contest on any specific outcome on any specific pursuit. Where a criminal has been apprehended, for it would be like ping pong, excepted crime is not a table game and chaos ensues if crime is not pursued effectively.

    Have we forgotten the chaos of those immature kids in Frankie’s dinner, and the need for the adults in the room to lead by example?
    www .youtube.com/watch?v=NqR6CBFyelw

    Taking into consideration Day’s stats on police pursuits and your use of new technology, over 1.6 million phone-related accidents occur each year, 330,000 injuries and 3500 deaths. Do we stop production and sales of cell phones?

    While technology can aid by stopping needless pursuits and accidents involving innocent bystanders by misguided youth like those in the diner, however Jeff your absurd notice to track motor vehicles with cameras is a testament to your genius.

    To require such a tracking system for people who flee the police would require cameras on every telephone pole throughout the city, in order to be effective. BRILLIANT!

    Please let’s not forget the outcry on such a system to catch violators on street parking.

    However the system or its technology is not unwarranted, if properly constructed, it could curb the tragic outcomes Day has addressed. If we can place a camera in parking meters surely we can place them on police cruisers to take a picture of a license plate of a car and give them a ticket for whatever infraction or to apprehend at a later date without engaging in a reckless high speed pursuit.

    But let’s face it. If someone flees the cops it’s not because they just ran a stop sign or some minor infraction. If the fine is high enough the motorist will have to make a value determination as to if trying to evade the police on a high-speed chase, where innocent bystanders are put at risk, over what crime they’re currently in violation of, outweighs the ticket for evading police by motor vehicle. Such a policy would reduces stupidity in police pursuits.
    What are remaining are those who are in violation of a higher degree, in which police judgement, departments within law enforcement, even GPS placed on the cars themselves, or some other tracking method. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. At least the cops will have a license plate number to work with when making that judgment.

    The other remaining elements are the cops themselves. Cops can just pull over anyone for whatever reason they can manifest. Walk that 9th carefully not all will be rescinded. Have you heard of profiling, DWB (Driving While Black), or who they know is into something, like a wet tissue thrown at the wall to see what sticks. Like body cameras, that’s a different policy for a different issue. An issue that has not been pressed or addressed in your commentary, so I will not pursue that issue any further.

    As for your perspective on this SPECIFIC issue on policing, “‘burbs looking to protect their property rather than in safeguarding “regional” lives. And the reliance on traditional “pursuit” tactics would imply extreme stupidity on the part of policy/decision makers in any event. (Truly, there is way, way too much “stupid” going around in Bridgeport/regional/state politics in Connecticut lately, in the Governor’s office, GA, and just about every town hall. Could it be a politically transmitted virus?” Is it politically transmitted virus of stupidity or just your brilliance to assess and evaluate the cause and the effects of Bridgeport woes?
    www .youtube.com/watch?v=uRyIMqXA_o8

    Jeff, I don’t know if it’s the joint and the snacks or I’m coming down from my high, but your Stamford/Greenwich Gold Coast, like the universe collapsing on itself, their exploitation of Bridgeport, has now turned a corner to encompass almost all the towns surrounding Bridgeport’s outer rim. To imply the new and improved Gold Coast values their property rather than safeguarding “regional” lives where criminals, regardless of origin, escape by just crossing the cities’ limits to achieve their escape is BRILLIANT!

    Cause and Effect, it was no wonder the cause of your genius was the effect of the results of your mayoral bid.
    www .youtube.com/watch?v=iR3fSL9WMdg

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