Two car accidents in Jacksonville recently raise questions about whether police are putting the public first when it comes to safety on the roads.
Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford is asking the public for patience as a criminal probe tries to uncover what exactly happened that led to a collision between an officer’s car and an 86-year-old man driving a truck.
The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the police chase launched by Officer Marcus Kilpatrick. He was traveling 98 mph through a residential area and near a school in a 40 mph zone to follow someone with tinted windows!
A witness said in a report that she saw Officer Kilpatrick go over and switch on his emergency light after the crash, in violation of policy that requires both lights and / or sirens when pursuing someone in an emergency situation. Tinted windows do not constitute an emergency.
A change in the police chase policy may result from the accident.
As if that wasn’t enough, another officer has been cited for ramming the back of a vehicle while checking her lap top. Her arm was injured and the front of her police car was crushed. She will be cited for careless driving. Police have no particular policy on the use of lap top computers in a vehicle.
We know from experience that one cannot be on a computer and drive safely. We tell kids not to text and drive, and not to be on a cell phone and drive. Certainly, there should be a policy for police officers as well.
Bottom line- officer Kirkpatrick may be out of a job as a result of a criminal probe. An officer is not supposed to be putting the public at risk and a tinted windshield is indefensible.
We at Farah and Farah hope that Jacksonville adopts the pursuit policy of Orlando that refuses officers to chase in residential areas unless a felony has been committed. A Florida wrongful death lawsuit is likely to be filed since no one had any time to react to someone bearing upon them a 98 mph.
Laptops will remain in police cars because hitting the “Hot Keys” are required to gather dispatch information. But the internal policies must change and be taken seriously so the public is not put in any more danger.