ATLANTA (CBS46) – Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields told her staff Friday the entire department would have a zero-chase policy effective immediately, sources confirmed to CBS46 News. Chief Shields indicated the policy will remain in place for the department until more policy decisions have been made. The move came in a staff email Friday that took aim at the judicial system.
Shields said in the email to her staff that she had to weigh the success of the chases the department engages in with, “the level of pursuit training received by officers who are engaging in the pursuits, the rate of occurrence of injury/death as a result of the pursuits and the likelihood of the judicial system according any level of accountability to the defendants arrested as a result of the pursuits.”
The email from Shields continued, “At this point and time, the department is assuming an enormous amount of risk to the safety of officers and the public for each pursuit, knowing that the judicial system is largely unresponsive to the actions of the defendants.”
According to the memo, the Executive Command Staff will “work to identify specific personnel and certain specialized pursuit training to enable the department to conduct pursuits in limited instances,” however, until those standards are formalized, “the department has a zero-chase policy, and this is effective immediately.”
The move comes after some recent high-speed chases ended in tragedy. In early December, a traffic stop turned into a high-speed chase that ended in a multi-car collision near the intersection of Campbellton Road and Lee Street. Two people died in the accident at the end of the chase. A separate accident in September saw a brief high-speed chase end with the suspect’s car crashing into a building off Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway. The car hit a customer standing outside the business critically injuring him.
Chief Shields acknowledged in her email the decision, “will not be a popular decision; and more disconcerting to me personally, is that this decision may drive crime up.”
APD has scheduled a 3 p.m. press conference to talk about the new policy. CBS46 will live stream the press conference on CBS46.com, the CBS46 App, and on CBS46's Facebook page.