Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rethinking the (Florence) Police Chase

The following is a guest commentary from a concerned and highly informed Colbert County citizen. His concern lies with the current policy of the Florence Police, a department which gives chase in almost all circumstances. There are always two sides to every issue, but we feel this "catch at all costs" policy causes more harm than good.

The author of this blog mentions mayhem that resulted from chases originating outside Lauderdale County, but there have been many more incidents which were encapsulated in Florence proper--among them the death of Jon Willingham. We understand these individuals did not have to run. Still, it is the job of our police to protect all citizens, even those who have made poor choices.

We want to stress that we receive complaints concerning law enforcement on a regular basis, some verifiable and many more that are not. Of those complaints, the fewest concern the City of Florence Police Department under Chief Rick Singleton. We consider Chief Singleton a paragon of what a leader should be, but that does not mean current policies cannot be improved. We urge everyone to read this:

Late Friday night/early Saturday morning Colbert Sheriffs' Department got a call for a suicidal man on Softly Lane in the Spring Valley community. When the deputies arrived on scene the man took off in his car. The deputies chased the vehicle into Lauderdale County where Florence Police took over the lead in the chase. FPD chased him to his mother's house in Killen where he shot himself in the head.

I am usually a big supporter of LE, but let me tell you the problems I see. Curtis Russell had not hurt anyone else. LE knew who he was and where to find him. By cornering him, in his mind a shot to the head was the only way out. This is the third time in recent years I have seen this same result involving FPD.

This first time was on 6th Street in Muscle Shoals. FPD chased Corey Carwyle who was suicidal, boxed him in, and he shot himself. The next incident was on Wilson Dam Road when FPD chased a man for forging a prescription through Florence across Patton Island and the man crashed his car into a 18 wheeler hauling lumber between 2nd St. and Avalon Ave. on Wilson Dam Rd.

When any emergency vehicle cuts on their lights and sirens it poses a danger to anyone in traffic and the risks of running Code 3 should be heavily considered when a unit is responding. I believe FPD should reevaluate their procedures. Is the risk to life worth chasing someone down who does not pose a threat to others. Especially when LE knows who the person is they are chasing and where they can be found later?

Related post: Another Florence Police Chase & Jon Willingham is Dead