The Fast And The Furious

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. Another gorgeous day in the mountains. You all should come and visit the mountains of North Georgia. From Fort Oglethorpe to Clayton and all points in between, it’s hard to not find a good spot to spend a couple of days. Be sure to bring a couple of dollars so you can buy your kids some remembrances. In fact, bring your credit cards, geegaws and doodads cost more than they used to.

If you’re planning on coming up the 400, or the Atlanta Autobahn as we call it up here in North Georgia, be sure to keep an eye out for Smokey. Writing up folks for traveling a tinch over the posted limited is a major source of income in the rural counties, so be advised. We mountaineers are always amazed that going the other way, as you get closer to Atlanta, the speeds of traffic increase. Logic would conclude more traffic less speed, but not so in this case.

Now, I’m not complaining, I believe in driving as fast as you feel confident of your abilities. For Mulva, that confidence level is 55 mph on the Interstate, unless there’s a bridge involved. Then Mulva’s speed might drop to 35 mph before she gets across. No amount of logic screamed in a high pitched voice can make Mulva change the speed of her trajectory. From forty years of driving history, the one thing I can bet my bottom dollar on is that Mulva will never be involved in a high speed chase.

High speed police chases in Georgia were banned during part of my lifetime. I’m remembering about 1966-1969, somewhere in that area, that a high speed chase in Atlanta resulted in the death of the teen that was running, and some other folks. As I recall, the teen came from a prominent family, and as a result, pressure was brought to bear on the politicians to change the policy. Years later, the folks filled with righteous indignation got the law changed back, and so we now have the current state of lunacy that prevails in most states.

Over 5,000 innocent bystanders and passengers have been killed in high speed chases since 1979. Ten of thousands more have been injured as the police have taken their pursuits to dangerous levels. Many of these chases were for minor infractions, and most bystanders were killed while driving their own car in a safe manor. The Federal Justice Department has called police pursuits, “the most dangerous of all ordinary police activities”, and beginning in 1990, started urging police departments to develop safe policies for when a pursuit was mandated. “Far more police vehicle chases occur each year than police shootings,” the Justice department reports. Despite the Justice Department’s repeated warnings, the number of chase related deaths continues to rise. Why?

My take is that it relates directly to what I refer to as moral indignation. My thought is there are some in our society who are willing to put the lives of babies at risk in order to “bring those criminals to justice”. Even if that criminal act is as small as running a red light. My recollection of what got the Georgia law changed back was that crimes against property weren’t being properly addressed, at least in the opinion of the owners of the property. Kids might shop lift a pair of jeans at Lenox Square and the next thing you knew you’d have a high speed chase involving multiple jurisdictions running around I-285, trying to recover a pair of jeans. If a soccer Mom and six kids got killed in the process, it was the criminal’s fault for running, not because the police weren’t exercising  good judgement.

I mean, I get the police’s argument. If a kid can steal a pair of jeans today and get away with it without being chased, he’s liable to come back and get a sweater tomorrow. By this logic, putting the general public at risk to get this bad apple off the street should be a burden that society is willing to bear. I don’t remember this coming to a vote though. I’m guessing the public would be happy for the police to get a tag number and pickup the perpetrators of non-capital offenses at a later date. You see, I think the general public understands that property can be replaced, lives can’t.



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