Lawmaker takes aim at high-speed chases amid deadly wreck
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) — Representative Edmond Jordan — (D) Baton Rouge, is targeting high-speed police manhunts after two dangerous chases took place through the Baton Rouge area last month. Addis Police Officer David Cauthron was charged last month over his role in the deaths of two Brusly teenagers, Maggie Dunn and Caroline Gill.
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Late on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, the Addis City Council voted unanimously to accept Cauthron’s resignation effective January 9, 2023. The officer had been suspended without pay since being charged in the case.
Cauthron was chasing a suspect along LA-1 in Brusly when his unit crashed into the teens’ car, killing them. The brother of one of these teenagers was also in the car at the time of the accident but survived. According to the Addis Police Department’s chasing policy, officers are allowed to drive through a red light, but only after stopping or slowing down to ensure safety. We know the night of the crash, that didn’t happen – according to the district attorney in West Baton Rouge.
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Another high-speed chase erupted in Iberville Parish on Tuesday, January 31, 2023 and ended in a serious accident in Port Allen. A man ran from officers, and a woman and a small child were in the car at the time. Luckily they weren’t hurt.
Rep. Jordan is leading the prosecution in the upcoming session to strengthen police prosecution policies statewide. If you look at the policy for the Addis police force. Jordan said there are glaring problems with the guidelines as they are written.
“There’s really no real accountability if you break it,” Jordan said. “It just says you may be subject to those other laws of the state.”
Rep. Jordan proposes tougher police chase guidelines and higher civil penalties to deter those chases. He believes they endanger not only the officers and the people pursuing them, but everyone else on the street as well.
“Hopefully we could eliminate chases altogether, but I think it’s a lot more than just a track. We definitely want to be able to greatly reduce them and get people — officers — to think about what they’re doing and the lives they’re putting at risk by initiating these chases,” Rep. Jordan said . “So if we can get them to think about it and be aware of the outcomes and consequences, I think that’s the main thing for us.”
Rep. Jordan also says it would be a great idea to make the standard prosecution policy consistent across the state so there is no confusion when an officer decides to pursue a man.
“I don’t think you should have one standard for one city and one for a city or another municipality,” he added. “Because these things are so dangerous … these car chases are so dangerous, we need to have a level playing field where everyone understands the rules.”
Lawmakers say they don’t have all the answers at the moment and are ready to work with their counterparts in the capital because they believe something needs to be done to stop these high-speed chases, which are sometimes deadly.
“I think we need to clean it up, and I think one of the statutes that I’m proposing will do that,” he added.
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