Police chases would be limited to pursuit of suspects in the most serious offenses under a bill filed this week in the state Senate.
Senate Bill 414 would prevent state, county and local law enforcement officers from pursuing a suspect unless the person being pursued committed, or was thought to have committed, major crimes, including murder, aggravated battery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, rape, armed robbery or any other offense that creates an immediate threat of death or serious injury to another person.
The bill comes as a pursuit last month by College Park police of a suspect in a stolen vehicle resulted in a crash that left a grandmother and her two grandchildren dead.
State Sen. Gail Davenport, D-Jonesboro, one of the bill’s chief sponsors, recalled a police chase about a decade ago in Clayton County that resulted in two sisters being killed.
“It was horrible, and since then things haven’t gotten any better,” Davenport said, citing the recent incident with College Park police.
In that incident, Dorothy Smith Wright was headed to church with her grandchildren when the suspect in a stolen SUV being pursued by police ran a stop sign and crashed into their car. College Park police chased the suspect more than 10 miles in southwest Atlanta.
“We want to make sure that innocent people do not lose their lives, and that a police chase is called off if there would be danger to the public,” Davenport said.
The bill filed this week, is coming late in the legislative session and must be passed by the Senate before the 30th day of the session, which is Monday, to have a chance for debate in the House.