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Should Live Police Chases Be on TV?

The Los Angeles Police Protective League argues that televised chases, like the one Tuesday through Echo Park and Silver Lake, endanger public safety.

A post on the Los Angeles Police Protective League website today has me thinking this afternoon.

It's titled "Televised Live Police Chases -- the New Bloodsport?"

Read it here.

The post raises some interesting questions about public safety and how--and why--we do news, especially after the last two days of dramatic televised police chases in Los Angeles.

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Wednesday's found onlookers flooding a South Central intersection as police arrested bank robbers who'd tossed stolen cash from their car as they fled.

I myself had spent about 24 hours immersed in the coverage and aftermath of Tuesday's chase and shoot out, which was centered in Echo Park, Silver Lake and Downtown. 

It was a particularly important one, I felt, for anyone .

When I saw I had a hunch.

Were the officers chasing Pedroza's alleged killer?

I knew detectives had recently requested an arrest warrant in the case.

Then, I heard the choppers zoom over my neighborhood and learned from the radio that the driver was carrying a weapon.

I was convinced.

Turns out I and others were right: this chase meant a lot for my Patch community, which had reacted passionately to Pedroza's death last month.

On Tuesday at about 7:15 p.m., after crashing his car and shooting at police at Seventh and Beaudry, Ian Schlesinger was arrested on a warrant for Pedroza's death.

I wasn't the only person who had had this feeling about the chase.

So did, from what I can tell, some of Pedroza's family and friends.

Was it wrong for them to have had access to the events as they were unfolding?

It's hard to say.

As the LAPPL blog notes:

On Tuesday, live television coverage of an LAPD pursuit of a murder and carjacking suspect nearly resulted in the viewing public being “treated” to the sight of that criminal attempting to kill police officers, and then falling to the ground after being struck by return fire. What exactly is the value to the public, more importantly our young people, to witness this event live and in high definition?

The piece also talks more generally about recent media coveage of chases and makes this recommendation:

Lengthy coverage of cars being pursued by the police up and down the streets and highways in the hopes of some dramatic conclusion may gain viewers for the stations, but for the sake of public safety, news organizations should report on police chases in as much detail as they want when the chase concludes.

Thankfully no onlookers were hurt during either of this week's chases. And there was extensive coverage of both afterwards.

Meantime, as of Thursday, Schlesinger is still at County/USC Medical Center with injuries from the shoot out.

And he'll stay in police custody unless someone comes up with his bail, set at $2 milllion.

He's also been booked on Pedroza's murder as well as crimes related to shooting at police officers, who were not hurt.

Now tell us:

What do you think? Does public safety warrant limiting live coverage of police chases? Are there other reasons to limit the coverage?

Spilly September 17, 2012 at 06:08 AM
I say keep covering the chases on live tv.. we the public have a right to know and veiw them.......
Ronald van Ammers September 24, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Just wait until drones replace news helicopters. Theyll need special channels on TV to keep up with the footage. DroneWatch, DroneTalk, DroneByZip, etc, etc.

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