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NYPD Chases

Hot Pursuit: NYPD Chases Still Surging Unleashing Danger on City Streets

Drivers seeking to escape the NYPD — and the agency's massive increase in its pursuit of said drivers — continue to surge.

File photos: Gersh Kuntzman

It's a flee for all.

Drivers seeking to escape the NYPD — and the agency's massive increase in its pursuit of said drivers — continue to surge, despite previous media coverage of the danger unleashed by desperate motorists racing away from cops.

Through the first quarter of 2024, police chased 598 drivers, according to the NYPD's own 911 call data. That's up from 304 chases over the same period of 2023. That's an increase of 98 percent — almost double.

Last July, The City documented the NYPD's increase in reliance on chases, but has not updated the number since. But they show a continued trend towards more police chase:

But police chases aren't just number in a 911 log book — they lead to danger on our streets. Over the weekend, two drivers evaded police, one of whom was operating a Mercedes that was being pulled over on suspicion of speeding early on Sunday morning, the other at a police checkpoint early on Friday morning.

The driver who was allegedly speeding continued to evade the pursuing officers on Gates Avenue in Brooklyn, eventually running a red light and slamming into a Honda Pilot traveling southbound on Central Avenue. The force of the crash gravely wounded Micah Dukes, 29, who had been in the back seat of the Pilot. Cops initially said the Albany resident was killed, but apparently she remains in a coma at Elmhurst Hospital in nearby Queens.

The NYPD declined to provide further details about the crash. But in this case, there was some reason for the chase: the Mercedes driver has nine camera-issued violations over just the last two months, according to city records. None of the tickets has been paid yet, but the car could not yet be towed away because a court has not ruled the car's owner guilty yet.

Also, camera-issued tickets do not count on a driver's record, and Albany legislators have refused to alter that fact.

Here's how The City covered the rise in police chases last year. Click to read.Credit: The City

In the other incident, cops had stopped a Toyota SUV near Hegeman and Van Siclen avenues in East New York, but opted not to pursue the fleeing, even after he grazed one of the officers with his mirror. Instead, one of the cops opened fire, the Daily News reported, missing the speeding car, but striking a nearby parked car that was, luckily, empty.

Shooting at a fleeing vehicle is one thing, but pursuing reckless drivers at high speed broadens the radius of danger for bystanders. Streetsblog and other media outlets have repeatedly covered crashes that were the culmination of a police chase, including a violent crash that destroyed a home in Staten Island in 2022, a 2021 chase that led to the death of a delivery worker, and a 2023 pursuit that knocked a man off a moped, killing him.

Crashes caused by police officers cost city taxpayers more than $50 million in fiscal year 2023.

The NYPD declined to comment on the continued rise in police chases, but Chief of Patrol John Chell has steadfastly continued the practice of chasing scofflaws through the streets, citing the rise in all-terrain vehicles and “ghost cars,” which were indeed the subject of an extensive Streetsblog investigation last year.

“With the enforcement of more moving summonses and car stops, and people thinking they can take off on us? Those days are over,” Chell said last year, as reported by The City. “So yes, vehicle pursuits are up. And I’ll say it again: The days of driving around this city lawless, doing what you’re thinking you’re going to do, it’s over.”

The NYPD no longer allows the public to view the pages of its patrol guide that relate to vehicle chases, Streetsblog has previously reported.

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