I-TEAM: Lawmaker takes aim at high-speed chases amid deadly wreck
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Representative Edmond Jordan-- (D) Baton Rouge, is taking aim at high-speed police chases following two dangerous chases through the Baton Rouge area within the last month. Addis Police Department officer David Cauthron was charged last month for his role in the death of two Brusly teens, Maggie Dunn, and Caroline Gill.
RELATED: Council accepts resignation of officer involved in police chase crash that killed 2 teens
Late Wednesday, February 1, 2023, the Addis town council voted unanimously to accept Cauthron’s resignation, effective January 9, 2023. The officer had been suspended without pay since he was charged in the case.
Cauthron was chasing a suspect along LA-1 in Brusly when his unit slammed into the teens’ car killing them. The brother of one of those teens was also in the car at the time of the crash but survived. According to the police pursuit policy with the Addis Police Department, officers may go through a red light but only after stopping or slowing down to ensure safety. We know the night of the crash, that did not happen— according to the district attorney in west baton rouge.
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Another high-speed chase broke out in Iberville Parish Tuesday, January 31, 2023 and ended in a bad crash in Port Allen. A man was running from officers and a woman and a young child were in the car at the time. Luckily, they were not hurt.
Rep. Jordan is leading the charge in the upcoming session to strengthen policies around police pursuits statewide. When looking at the policy for Addis Police. Jordan said there are glaring problems with the guidelines as written.
“There’s really no real accountability if you violate it,” said Jordan. “It just says you may be subject to these other laws of the state.”
Rep. Jordan is proposing stricter guidelines on police chases and increased civil penalties to prevent these pursuits. He believes they put not only officers and the people they’re chasing in danger but also everyone else on the road in harm’s way as well.
“Hopefully we could eliminate chases altogether but I think that’s much more of a stretch. We certainly want to be able to reduce them greatly and have folks— officers— think about what they’re doing and the lives that they’re putting in danger when they initiate those chases,” said Rep. Jordan. “So if we can make them think about that and be cognizant of whatever the results and the consequences would be, I think that’s the main thing for us.”
Rep. Jordan also says it would be a great idea to make standard pursuit policies uniform across the state so there’s no confusion when an officer chooses to carry out a chase.
“I don’t think you should have one standard for one town and one for a city or some other municipality,” he added. “Because these things are so dangerous.. these chases are so dangerous, we need to have one level playing field where everybody understands the rules.”
The lawmaker says he does not have all the answers right now and he’s open to working with his colleagues at the capital because he believes something has to be done to stop these high-speed chases that sometimes have deadly consequences.
“I think we need to clean it up and I think one of the statutes I’m proposing will do that,” he added.
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