ALBANY Mayor Willie Adams has asked city staff to provide Albany City Commissioners with the Albany Police Department’s pursuit policy.
Terry L. Fleming, an APD officer, died Friday while chasing armed robbery suspects when her cruiser collided with another police unit, slammed into a tree and burst into flames.
Police were responding to an armed robbery of a downtown finance company, and the pursuit ensued when the suspects attempted to flee. They were captured Friday and face felony murder charges, among others.
All city police cars are equipped with devices that measure time, speed and location. The Albany Herald requested the data from those devices Tuesday for the time period when the robbery occurred through Georgia’s Open Records Act and was denied. City officials are citing an exemption to the Open Record’s Law for information involved in ongoing criminal investigations as the basis for the denial of the records.
When asked about his comments Tuesday, Adams said that he had been assured by police officials that the chase fell within the standard operating procedures of the department, but he said he still felt that he needed to see the policy and that others on the commission may want to discuss it.
“I’ve been assured that there is one in place, but I want to make sure it’s being adhered to, if there is a policy in place,” Adams said. “I’ve heard a lot of comments about the reasonability of having high-speed chases through neighborhoods. Certainly we don’t want to do anything that’s going to put a frost over the loss of one of our officers, but we don’t want to have any future losses.”
Ironically, the Albany Police Department was set to host two different training sessions on pursuit policy Nov. 1 and 2, according to pursuitpolicy.org. According to Phyllis Banks, spokesperson for the Albany Police Department, those training sessions were rescheduled to Dec. 1 and 2 after Friday’s incident. That training is available for officers who need the hours to keep up their certification.
Police departments around the country have varying policies on when to pursue and when not to pursue suspects. Generally, officers weigh the brutality or violence of the crime committed, the impact on the public safety by breaking off the chase and the likelihood of a member of the public being injured in the chase.