Lawmakers plan legislation to strengthen state's police pursuit - - Jackson, MS

Lawmakers plan legislation to strengthen state's police pursuit laws

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A high-speed chase by Richland police into Jackson this weekend continues to draw criticism among residents and at least one city councilman.

Saturday's high-speed pursuit endangered a family and a Hinds County deputy.

While no one was injured during the chase, it has people once again asking about the legality of police chases into other areas.

"They really need to rethink that thing before they start coming and chasing all over this city over simple things, endangering everybody's lives," said Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes.

Stokes' frustrations intensified after Saturday's chase on McCluer Road in Jackson, a chase that caused a mother and her two children to lose control of their vehicle.

In the wake of that incident, lawmakers say they're taking notice.

"The law is somewhat vague right now," said State Sen. John Horhn.

He's referring to Mississippi Code 45-1-43, which deals with pursuit policies and sanctions.

Horhn said current law does not require communication between law enforcement agencies.

In Saturday's case, that would have been contact between Richland and Jackson police.

"We need some specificity and some more definition to what is proper procedure when you're doing a high-speed, hot pursuit case," Horhn said.

Horhn plans to introduce a bill this week requiring communication between agencies before pursuits cross jurisdictional lines.

He did, however, stop short of supporting legislation that would make police chases into Jackson illegal.

"I don't want Jackson to become a haven for bad guys who think 'as long as I get into the city limits of Jackson, I'll be okay,'" said Horhn.

Currently, Mississippi law allows law enforcement to chase criminals into any jurisdiction as long as it's a hot pursuit.

"We understand they're saying that state law gives them the authority to come into another jurisdiction, but we truly understand that federal law supersedes state law, and these are civil rights violations," Stokes said Sunday.

Stokes said he believes these police chases are predominantly by white law enforcement officers chasing criminals into black neighborhoods.

He plans to open an inquiry into Saturday's incident.

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