Since You Asked: What is Marysville police pursuit policy?
Q: What is the Marysville Police Department policy regarding high-speed pursuits? It seems to me that police put the public in danger when they chase after people like they did Thursday night. If they know who the guy is, why not stop the pursuit and arrest him later instead of putting the public at risk?
A: Marysville police could not comment directly on Thursday's pursuit because that particular chase is still under review by the department.
Police review each chase as a matter of routine, Sgt. Chris Sachs said.
"Specific standards dictate the pursuit of violent, wanted and dangerous suspects," Sachs explained. "And the public's safety is always the top priority when evaluating when suspects should and should not be pursued."
The department has an extensive, detailed Vehicle Pursuit Policy. While police couldn't comment on their most recent chase, a copy of the 10-page policy was provided to Since You Asked.
Each pursuit requires officers to make a series of difficult, critical decisions in a short amount of time and under mostly unpredictable circumstances.
Marysville's policy requires officers to immediately weigh 12 specific factors that include the seriousness of the crime or suspect, time of day and the amount of vehicle and pedestrian traffic on and near roadways, and the quality and condition of their own vehicles.
Essentially, if the officer believes leaving the suspect on the street presents a greater safety risk than a high-speed chase, the pursuit is on. If not, the chase is abandoned and officers are forced to make their arrest another day.
"That actually happens quite frequently," Sachs said.
It should probably be noted that the general public never hears about all the would-be car chases that don't happen. Things that don't happen don't generally make the news.
Thursday's pursuit was initiated, police said, during a gang-related probation check when one of the targets of the search fled in a truck at high speeds. The suspect driver allegedly ingested a significant amount of methamphetamine during the chase. Nobody was hurt and the chase ended when the suspect crashed his own vehicle.
While some California law enforcement agencies have a no-chase policy, local police believe there is good reason to believe those policies carry their own risks. Criminals could feel emboldened if they know they won't be chased as long as they make it to their getaway vehicle.
Hoops at Albert Powell High
Q: Why did Albert Powell High School in Yuba City end access to the basketball courts for the public, after years of access, by fencing them off and keeping them locked permanently? How can they do this being a public school funded by taxpayers?
A: Use of public funds does not guarantee public access. Think of weight rooms in jails and prisons.
"Some schools are open (campuses) and others are not," explained Bruce Morton, director the Yuba City Unified School District's student welfare and attendance program.
In the case of Albert Powell High, fences were added to the campus in 2007 around the same time that additional portable classrooms were installed.
Morton noted this year's enrollment of 250 students is the largest ever — by far — in the school's history. As the campus has expanded, those additional fences were needed to increase student safety during school hours.
Principal Chuck Whitecotton said the school has experienced numerous break-ins over the years and there was a need to increase security at night as well.
School officials believe the need to protect students and school property 24 hours a day outweighs the public's desire for access to their basketball courts.
Since You Asked is published on Mondays. Send questions to reporter Rob Parsons at the Appeal-Democrat, 1530 Ellis Lake Drive, Marysville, CA 95901, email him at rparsons@ appealdemocrat.com or call 749-4785.