Follow law on chases
A spate of high-speed law enforcement pursuits ending in wrecks, including a deadly one, begs the question: Is there gap in policy and practice?
State law requires the primary pursuit officer to weigh risks based on several criteria and, when the risks outweigh the need to make an immediate arrest, he or she is obliged to back off.
It’s a judgment call and not always an easy one. But the bottom line is that a chase is never worth the risk when lives — the suspect’s, the officer’s or the public’s — are in danger. And until officers are held to that standard, out-of-policy pursuits will continue.
A newly released Justice Department report based on 2012 statistics and stretching back 20 years ranked South Carolina fifth among states with the deadliest police pursuits; the 15th highest in the number of deaths (180 over 20 years); and the ninth highest in bystander deaths.
University of South Carolina criminal justice professor Geoff Alpert, a nationwide expert on pursuits, told The Post and Courier the rewards of chasing a traffic violator are negligible compared to the risk to the public, and forward-thinking agencies have restricted pursuits to only violent criminals.
Prove tax critics wrong
There is wisdom in the adage about throwing money at a problem not necessarily being a solution. But for certain the state’s roads and bridges won’t get repaired without dollars.
For those worried that money will be redirected to pet projects and new construction, the challenge for state leadership, from the Governor’s Mansion to the SCDOT, is to make sure new revenue from a 12-cent increase in the state’s gas tax over six years is used where it is needed most. A good place to start would be the plan put forward by Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall.
South Carolina’s highway system is the fourth-largest in the nation, and the deadliest, making Hall’s recommendation to the SCDOT Commission in January particularly relevant.
Hall told commissioners improving safety on roads in rural areas of the state should be the top priority for new funding.…
Hall suggested $50 million per year would be a good start in reducing highway deaths on roads in rural areas. (The 12-cent gas tax when fully implemented is to provide $600 million annually, with fully a third of the revenue projected to come from out-of-state motorists.) The SCDOT leader proposes targeting 1,957 miles of roads with solutions tailored for particular corridors.
The solutions include rumble strips, raised pavement markings, high reflective signs, wider pavement markings, guardrails, specialized pavement treatments, wider shoulders, paved shoulders, wider clear zones adjacent to the roadways and drainage ditches farther away from roadways.
Just one Memorial Day
It is time to let go of Confederate Memorial Day. Of course it is fine and appropriate to honor the Confederate soldiers by placing flags on their graves, conducting re-enactments and the like, but we don’t need a separate day, a paid state holiday, to do that.
Again, as we wrote here two years ago, we already have Memorial Day coming up the end of May, and that is a day set aside to honor those who gave their lives in battle for the country. Why not use that same holiday weekend to remember all our war dead, to include those who fought and died for the North, the South and in the American Revolution?
Maintaining Confederate Memorial Day seems counterproductive, given the state’s global business landscape. Declaring ourselves a global stage for business and industry while seemingly clinging to the Confederacy is an odd juxtaposition.
History is absolutely important, but history also needs perspective. Confederate Memorial Day, for many, is less about honoring those who died in service to the Confederacy and more about an unrelenting devotion to what the Confederacy stood for.
South Carolina has become a leader in the competitive global market. Surely it can lead in another meaningful way by acknowledging only one Memorial Day.