COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Police officers in Colorado Springs are noticing a dangerous trend on our roads. A growing number of drivers are speeding away from traffic stops.
"We put on the red and blues, you're required to move over, and these folks pick up their speed, they turn off their lights, they run red lights or stop signs, any of those things," Deputy Police Chief David Edmondson told city council in December.
The city enacted a more restrictive pursuit policy early in 2018. Officers can choose to cancel a pursuit when the only suspected crime is the traffic violation that caused the stop.
"If somebody just committed murder and they're going down the street, we're chasing them," Edmondson explained.
However, he shared department data that suggest certain drivers have taken advantage of the policy. There were 252 calls for service containing the keyword or phrase “not pursued”, “not pursuing”, “eluded” or “eluding” in 2019. The department projected total of 499 such calls for 2022.
The city enacted a vehicular nuisance ordinance in 2021 to give officers the ability to impound vehicles used in suspected eluding cases in an attempt to deter drivers from eluding.
Shantel Withrow, the Division Chief for Prosecution with the Colorado Springs City Attorney's Office told the council members that the ordinance needs to be updated.
She worked with stakeholders in the Municipal Court, the City Attorney's Office, and the CSPD to identify shortcomings in the existing code.
"What happens if someone has their ID or passport inside that vehicle," she said. "At motions hearings, we hadn't talked about what types of rules of evidence govern and what judges are permitted to issue orders on."
She also said that certain timelines in the existing ordinance have negatively impacted court scheduling. The city also wants to streamline the process to help car theft victims to more quickly recover their vehicles from impound if they were used in eluding cases.
City Council is expected to vote on the updated vehicular nuisance ordinance Tuesday.
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