Regarding the newly-announced, Bridgeport/inter-municipality police-pursuit policy in which the police departments of all of the cooperating municipalities would have cross-border, carte-blanche police- pursuit prerogatives, there are obvious contra-indications that should obviate such a simplistic, unqualified policy.

Indeed, the word “pursuit” implies elements of extreme stupidity in this initiative.

I recall a “pursuit” situation of burglary suspects (who turned out to be “Valley” residents) by Trumbull police, from Trumbull into Bridgeport, several years ago in which the suspects’ vehicle, being pursued by Trumbull police on Trumbull Avenue in Bridgeport at a very high rate of speed, hit a natural “hump” on Trumbull Avenue, launched into the air, and landed on the car of two innocent Trumbull Gardens residents who were crushed and killed by the force of the suspects’ vehicle landing upon/impacting their vehicle.

I also recall a police chase of robbery suspects down East Main Street in Bridgeport (about ten years ago) where a car with innocent people exiting a gas station was hit by the suspects’ vehicle, causing the vehicle to flip over and causing serious injuries to the occupants… Only one of the suspects was apprehended at the scene, with the other able to escape/evade police on foot.

There are many other examples of local police pursuits resulting in injuries and deaths of innocent persons.

And I recall a Trumbull resident dismissing the deaths of the innocent persons in Bridgeport in the Trumbull Avenue incident as (paraphrasing) acceptable collateral casualties per the necessity of effective law enforcement… Really? A simple burglary — protection of “property” — merits the deaths of innocent persons?

I know many police officers, and regarding police pursuits, (especially) most of the veteran officers don’t believe that most pursuits are cost-effective, with respect to their effects in protecting life and limb of citizens. Indeed, they consider most pursuits as being contraindicated.

What is really needed — as I’ve been preaching verbally and in print in the media for years — is better use of technology in detecting/tracking criminal behavior — including burglary, robbery, etc. Strategically-located camera systems could effectively track crime and inter-municipality movement of criminals and also provide invaluable assistance in aiding in pursuits where it is likely that the pursued are intent on causing deadly injury if not intercepted.

And, as far as DUI and distracted driving; strategic location and operation of video-surveillance technology in conjunction with properly planned and operated checkpoints is the best tactic for addressing the former, and strategic surveillance and interception methods would be the preferable way of dealing with latter.

Pursuit of DUI suspects is very risky for other innocent drivers/pedestrians if rapid interception by police isn’t likely. Prevention, by way of live monitoring and video surveillance of known sources of origin of DUI drivers, is a tactic that should be given priority in allocating resources for addressing DUI.

The ‘burbs are a little too eager to make cross-border pursuit an acceptable policy… The ‘burbs have demonstrated — in too many ways on too many occasions — that they value their property and lifestyles over Bridgeport lives.

Quite frankly, as a Bridgeport citizen, I find it quite discomfiting that Bridgeport City Hall and Bridgeport PD would buy into this without appropriate public airing/feedback.

And, per the reference to the intensive use of technology as an adjunct to traditional modes of police patrol/surveillance as well as suspect pursuit/apprehension; I must cite an effort initiated by this writer in which I arranged for a high-level meeting between the UB Computer Engineering school and the Fabrizi Administration/BPD to explore the development and implementation of a citywide, public-safety video surveillance system.

The meeting was set for 1 p.m. and the City/BPD left this writer and UB representatives waiting until 2 p.m. before they showed up — only to allow BPD representatives to dominate the meeting and over-ride the suggestions of UB engineers and civilian proponents of the initiative. Some observers involved in that meeting and the larger initiative thought that the implications of the City/BPD posture/behavior had obvious, disturbing motives and implications.

In any event, the Connecticut Post, et al., should have a few critical editorial thoughts on this initiative. (Indeed, Councilperson AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia’s liability and legal concerns present primary, pragmatic considerations.)

To me, it looks more like the ‘burbs looking to protect their property rather than in safeguarding “regional” lives. And the reliance on traditional “pursuit” tactics would imply extreme stupidity on the parts of policy/decision makers in any event.  (Truly, there is way, way too much “stupid” going around in Bridgeport/regional/state politics in Connecticut lately – in the governor’s office, GA, and just about every town hall… Could it be a politically transmitted virus?)

Two points should be obvious to Bridgeporters in the context of this new “regional,” public-safety cooperation initiative involving Bridgeport: 1) Bridgeport is always the “target,” rather than the beneficiary of any “regional” initiatives and should always take a caveat emptor approach to involvement in “regional” agreements. 2) It is time for Bridgeport public-safety policy makers to fully embrace technology – even if it means confronting strong political resistance. The safety/well-being of the public and fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers should be the primary concerns of City Hall.

Jeff Kohut lives in Bridgeport.

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