Jewish World Review June 20, 2003 / 20 Sivan, 5763

Joe Scarborough

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They're organizing to prohibit police from pursuing criminal suspects who refuse to stop | Most Americans have seen police chases since the age of O.J. But did you know that there is a national movement afoot to prohibit police from pursuing criminal suspects who refuse to obey a cop's order to stop?

IT'S AMAZING what happens when the crime rate goes down for a few years. Americans get comfortable in the belief that their world is a safer place, never thinking about why their neighborhood and city are safer. It only happens when police officers are allowed to get tough on crime. Now this doesn't mean abusing suspects or suspending civil rights. But it does mean letting the bad guys know that crime doesn't pay.

Unfortunately, that is the message some cities and states are about to send criminals and future convicts. Cities like Los Angeles are actually ordering their police officers to refrain from chasing some suspects who try to escape arrest. Hard to believe, but it's true. So, if you're told to pull over by the police anytime soon, and you have a kidnap victim or 20 pounds of heroin locked in your trunk, just keep driving. You may be in a jurisdiction that would punish its officers for pursuing you.

The reason for this shortsighted scheme: Some innocent bystanders have been tragically killed while police pursue suspects. And opponents of car chases claim that such hot pursuits should never take place for minor offenses like traffic violations.

But as Rudy Giuliani taught New Yorkers, there is no such thing as minor offenses. America's mayor started his miraculous clean up of the Big Apple by focusing first on minor offenses like loitering and graffiti. He found that focusing on those lesser offenses often led to bigger catches, which sent the message that the rule of law was supreme in New York City.

Unfortunately, the weak message that is being sent in LA seems to be, if our police try to stop you for committing a crime, pay no attention. Maybe we'll stop you. Maybe we won't.

It's a lousy policy that will end up leading to more deaths, more rapes, and more crimes.

It's a bad idea.

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Former Congressman Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.) hosts “Scarborough Country,” 10 p.m. ET, weeknights on MSNBC. Comment by clicking here.

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