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This tragedy was not about a police chase - The Galveston County Daily News : Editorials

November 27, 2014

This tragedy was not about a police chase

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Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 12:00 am

The tragic deaths of six people in a wreck in League City might have set off a debate about the wisdom of police chases.

This case, however, did not.

Fatal wrecks that involve police chases often raise troubling questions. One of the few things that is worse than having a person who is driving erratically on the road is having a person who is driving erratically hitting the accelerator in an attempt to escape police.

But in this case, the Dickinson Police Department has a sophisticated policy that tries to balance its obligation to protect the public from these threats with the obvious risks of having erratic drivers running at high speeds.

In this case, the officer appears to have done exactly what he was supposed to do.

It appears that this tragedy was set on its course the minute a man with a previous charge of drunken driving on his record got behind the wheel.

The driver died, along with his passenger. And so did four members of a family that simply had the misfortune to be in the way.

If there is a lesson in this tragedy, perhaps it’s that we often fail to recognize the real risks. We fret and worry over terrorist plots, but we daily take to highways where it’s common to see drivers who can’t maintain their lanes, either because they’re impaired by alcohol or distracted by cellphones.

If Americans really believed that punishment is a deterrent, and if they punished people by the real risks, rather than by imaginative worries, we’d have a different set of laws. We’d have fewer debates over terrorists and the Second Amendment. We would have fewer people with licenses to drive cars.