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Colorado Officer’s Death a Reminder of Police Pursuit Accident Risks

By Burg Simpson

June 15, 2015   Colorado Blog, Colorado Workers' Compensation

The life of a budding member of Colorado’s law enforcement community was lost recently when the young cadet died as the result of a police pursuit gone wrong. At the time of the deadly accident, the cadet was involved in a separate traffic stop. When the fleeing driver flew past the cadet and attempted to swerve away from a set of spike strips placed in the roadway to catch him, the fugitive collided with the 21-year-old victim. The man was posthumously promoted to trooper at his funeral for his heroic actions in the accident that took his life.

Officers and bystanders victimized by those who flee

Unfortunately, pursuit accidents remain a major problem on American roads, with over one-third of all police chases ending in car crashes. While police officers such as the Colorado officer who recently lost his life are frequently the victims in such accidents, innocent bystanders, including pedestrians, are also seriously injured and killed in these accidents. Official statistics indicate that hundreds of people are killed in these accidents each year, with the actual numbers potentially even higher since bystanders that die even a few seconds after a pursuit terminates are generally not included in these figures.

Catching criminals, at what cost?

Based on the risks posed by police chases, some jurisdictions have actually outlawed the practice. According to this line of reasoning, the benefit of catching criminals may simply not be worth the number of innocent lives lost when fleeing suspects recklessly endanger those caught in their escape route. In cities such as Milwaukee, for example, police must have “probable cause” that a violent felony occurred, rather than “reasonable suspicion,” before initiating a pursuit.

Remembering our heroes through the Jeremy Bitner Memorial Run

While laws such as this Milwaukee ordinance may decrease deaths associated with high-speed pursuits, officers remain at risk during even routine roadway traffic stops. Every year it seems, the Colorado law enforcement community mourns the loss of officers killed in this manner. To help raise awareness of the cause in general, assist families who have lost an officer in the line-of-duty, and to celebrate the life of a very special officer who was killed in a fatal accident while performing a traffic stop, Burg Simpson proudly sponsors the Jeremy Bitner Memorial 5K/10K Run. A former SWAT team member and a Field Training Officer, Mr. Bitner served his community with pride for eight years. Community members are encouraged to participate in this meaningful event for a great cause.

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