News

Pursuit policies reviewed after collision

By From page A1 | October 04, 2017

Following the Sept. 5 Placerville Police pursuit that resulted in a collision that seriously injured Marina Village Middle School counselor Myrna Harp, local law enforcement agencies were questioned regarding their policy on such pursuits.

Placerville Police Department, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol representatives said they have written policies that spell out the conditions when they will and won’t pursue a suspect(s). All three agencies have very similar policies, taking into account the seriousness of the suspected crime and whether the suspect(s) poses a threat to the public and law enforcement.

Other factors that come into play include: if the known circumstances present an extreme safety hazard to the public, the officer or the suspect due to heavy traffic volume, weather, school zones, extreme speeds and other conditions.

PPD’s policy is that pursuit is terminated if the risk outweighs that of allowing the suspect to escape with the expectation that the person will be apprehended later.

EDOS has a similar policy. “Our policy provides deputies with guidance in balancing the safety of the public and themselves against law enforcement’s duty to apprehend violators of the law,” responded Tasha Thompson, EDSO’s public information officer. “Deciding whether to pursue a motor vehicle is a critical decision that must be made quickly and under difficult and unpredictable circumstances.”

The CHP’s policy is virtually the same as officers make the call of whether the danger of pursuing or continuing the pursuit is too great.

PPD Commander Kim Nida said following the collision, the pursuit was internally reviewed and the agency concluded the pursuit did not violate the department’s policies and procedures.

 

Harp and kidnapping and car theft suspect Justin Jefford both suffered major injuries when Jefford lost control of his vehicle while reportedly trying to evade officers on Green Valley Road near its intersection with Greenstone Road.

Harp, who has gone through several surgeries and nearly lost her foot due to extensive injury, recently shared her gratitude regarding all the support she’s received since the crash.

“I want to thank everyone for your prayers. Even though I was not conscious, sometimes not even lucid, there is a power that you can’t miss,” reads a statement on gofundme.com/myrnaharp. “I wasn’t supposed to be here. The doctors are amazed at the progress.

“We are going to have one hell of a party soon. Not a celebration of life, but a Celebration Of Life!”

As of press time family and friends have donated nearly $20,000 to Harp’s recovery effort.

Dawn Hodson

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