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Safety is the top priority

Law enforcement officials in our area have been reminded once again of the hazards of the hot pursuit.

Their reaction should be to take another look at policies regarding such action — and ensuring the rules are followed.

Last Friday afternoon, local and federal authorities in Cincinnati attempted to stop a car with three people in it.

The driver fled, with police in pursuit.

He drove across a bridge into Newport, Kentucky, where his car plowed into a group of pedestrians.

Two were injured.

Two were killed.

High-speed pursuits are not uncommon. In fact, they happen fairly frequently in our area.

Less than a month ago, police chased a man wanted on arson and weapons charges from Steubenville, down Ohio 7 to Belmont County before turning east and crossing the Ohio River.

Speeds reached 100 mph.

The suspect finally was apprehended after he hid in the basement of a home on Wheeling Island.

One key to hot-pursuit policies is that law enforcement personnel should engage in them only when there is a risk that allowing a suspect to escape will result in harm to the public.

Although police are trained and conditioned to apprehend people they believe have violated the law, it may be important for officers to consider just how serious the alleged offense is. Perhaps if the alleged offender is suspected of drug possession or another offense that may not immediately cause harm to others, they should not pursue if that person flees, opting instead to investigate further and make the arrest at a later time.

Another is that high-speed chases should be called off at the first indication an accident involving innocent bystanders may occur. Whenever a fleeing motorist enters an area where traffic is heavy or where pedestrians may be present, it could be time to stop following and let the suspect slow down.

These and other pursuit safety rules must be followed.

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