St. Pete hitting the brakes on police chase policy - FOX 13 News

St. Pete hitting the brakes on police chase policy

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

It's a debate over risk versus reward: St. Petersburg's new mayor said high speed police chases on non-violent suspects simply aren't worth the danger.

He's now outlawing police chases unless it involves a violent felony crime.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said his reasoning is simple.

"This is really a policy in my mind that really is all about safety," Kriseman said Thursday.

He said the city's former pursuit policy is anything but safe.

He's now putting a stop to police chases in St. Pete, unless it involves a violent felony crime.

"If there's a stolen vehicle and there's no other charge on them, no other crime they're being pursued for, then they're not going to be pursued," St. Petersburg Interim Police Chief David DeKay said.

Kriseman says high-speed chases often end up hurting more than they help.

Back in 2007, someone was killed after a suspect drove the wrong way on I-275, slamming into a car head-on.

The new policy aims to curb the number of chases.

Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association is shocked by the sweeping change.

"We would've hoped the Mayor would have met with us and spoken with us before making this change," Sun Coast PBA's Michael Crohn said Thursday.

They said the Mayor's policy will hurt public safety and allow criminals to rev up the crime.

"It's actually handcuffing our police officers from being able to enforce the law because they have to standby and watch criminals flee from the scene," Crohn said.

Still, Kriseman's standing behind his balancing act.

"Do we want to put people's lives at risk over a stolen car?" he said.

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