Note: Comments of readers are their own and do not reflect the feelings of Bob Lonsberry or lonsberry.com.
33 Responses to:
ARE TROOPER SUVs SAFE?
# 1. 6/2/12 2:27 AM by Harry
the police ought to let go of the pursuits - why cant they get a plate number?
# 2. 6/2/12 8:58 AM by Fred
About 35%-40% of all police chases end in crashes. There should be a restrictive chase policy.
In Miami-Dade County police crashes dropped from 279 a year to 51 after the department implemented a more restrictive policy.
# 3. 6/2/12 9:03 AM by GEORGE (the other one) - GANANOQUE ONTARIO CANADA
People who drive SUV's do have a tendency to 'out drive' their and their vehicle's abilities. The all pervading sense of power and safety through 'road hugging weight' tends to lull drivers into a false sense of security. Some people who drive SUV's tend to drive faster than road conditions and their own abilities might warrant. Some people who drive SUV's tend to believe that they are invincible inside their steel dreadnought. Some people who drive SUV's forget the basics of physics while piloting their four wheeled power symbol.
Cops are some people too.
# 4. 6/2/12 9:53 AM by Ralph Nader
Maybe its time to update "Unsafe at any Speed"
# 5. 6/2/12 11:09 AM by Rick G. - Spencerport, NY
I honestly think they use the SUV's because they look more intimidating. They actual need for off-road 4WD can't be that high and if the case calls for it, send one out specifically for the task.
The other factor is cost. The maintenance and upkeep, not to mention fuel, on an SUV is ridiculous.
Ford's new Taurus Interceptor was designed hand in hand with law enforcement officials, and looks to be a safer and more economical alternative to the full sized SUV. it is available in all wheel drive.
Editor's Note: agreed on all points. well said.
# 6. 6/2/12 8:40 PM by Tom Dey - Springwater, NY
Despite the rather obvious (?) stability differences among vehicles...most drivers seem pretty oblivious behind the wheel. There are sports cars you couldn't roll if you tried and some high CGs that can roll in a stiff side wind. Although we will never know what caused this tragedy, driver error seems the most likely suspect. And yeah, the suspension/control package for police vehicles should be the stiffest, most stable they carry.
# 7. 6/3/12 6:12 PM
Was heartbreaking to see the picture of the girl that died in the line of duty.
It was also interesting that you pointed out a potential problem with the lack of having stability control. What about how a driver becomes too dependent upon systems like stabilitrak? Will a driver who uses parking assist ever be able to parallel park again? Is an engine system that continuously tweaks the engine parameters so that a tune-up is not necessary for 100,000 miles really a good thing? Is it automatically tuning-up the engine or just fudging it until it can correct no more? Is it the equivalent of duct taping a thing to "fix" it? If the SUVs had stability control did the system have a catastrophic failure? Was it mechanical or at the chip level in the computer? Or was it a software glitch? If the problem is known by the manufacturer is it being covered up, as in the problem with exploding gas tanks on the Pinto and in pickup trucks?
You are right though in blaming the high center of gravity. The Army Jeep made way for the Humvee. But when we went to Iraq, the armor on them was insufficient. The designers underestimated the potential of IEDs, much to the dismay of scores of troops who became paraplegics and far worse.
# 8. 6/4/12 3:30 AM
Good luck finding that out. The State Police won't even say how fast she was going which should be recorded in the black box. In both cases they just wanted to find someone else to blame.
# 9. 6/4/12 4:53 AM by Cal - Rochester, NY
I know from experience, that one night I was speeding and actually felt the car starting to tip over on a curve! So I instinctively floored the accelerator and the car actually quit tipping over!
Editor's Note: your instincts might have killed you. you did exactly the wrong thing.
# 10. 6/4/12 6:11 AM
They are cops and can drive any way they want. Because they can operate outside the law they feel as gods and make risky ill advised decisions resulting in crashes and injury to themselves & othes. They are really just humans playing god.
Also why do they need to drive huge expensive gas guzzlers at tax payer expense? Again, because they can due to morons like you that confuse earthly power with God.
# 11. 6/4/12 6:54 AM by Poplar Beach
Rick G. hit the nail on the head!
# 12. 6/4/12 7:17 AM by Jodi - Wayne County East
You have to know the purpose and limitations of your equipment and operate reasonably within them for the circumstances at hand.
No one vehicle or piece of equipment is going to be perfect for every situation.
If it isn't rape, robbery or murder or some other life threatening situation in progress it most likely isn't worth risking your own life or possibly somebody else's for it either.
# 13. 6/4/12 8:02 AM by hc
EXACTLY what Rick G said, especially in his first paragraph. Couldn't have said it any better. On a related note, all of the fancy vehicles and gadgets in the world won't compensate for a poorly-trained officer, or one who lets himself/herself go in body and mind after passing through the police academy. They need to stop relaxing standards for trainees who are women/minorities. And, cliche as this sounds, some of them really need to lay off the donuts.
# 14. 6/4/12 8:12 AM by Frank - Rochestser
We also have never learned if she was wearing a seatbelt.
# 15. 6/4/12 8:13 AM by Larry - Corning, NY
CHEVROLET TAHOE 2-WHEEL DRIVE POLICE PACKAGE - SPECS FOR 2008 TAHOE 1FL COMMERCIAL DECOR WITH PPV OPTION Note: Police Package Option PPV must be ordered. The 2-Wheel Drive Tahoe Police Package is Not Intended for Trailer Towing This Vehicle Has Been Designed for Police Work Up to and Including High Speed Emergency Vehicle Operations STABILITRAK Not Available on Police Package (Tahoe police package has been designed with a lower center of gravity and enhanced suspension system)
# 16. 6/4/12 8:41 AM by Jodi - Wayne County East
Everyone relax regarding Rick G.
Every Trooper isn't issued a Tahoe because they look intimidating.
Each station may have one Tahoe and the rest sedans.
The Tahoe is for special need situations like heavy snow, off road and towing equipment as needed.
Under normal patrol situations it just has to be operated within it's specific manufacturers recommendations.
Don't throw out the baby with the bath water.
Editor's Note: outside the state police, there is definitely a tahoe trend in small-town police departments. i believe a certain amount of that is ego driven. dr. freud explains the popularity of these vehicles better than snow does.
# 17. 6/4/12 9:01 AM by Rob - Lewis County, NY
Well, I see the cop haters are out in full force - #1, #2 #8, and #10 thus far. If you folks only knew what you were talking about, which sadly, you don't. The NYSP, along with every other police agency in the country, has a very clear pursuit policy in place, and has had for many years. These policies were put in place in order to prevent crashes. But just because a police officer turns on a violator, that doesn't immediately constitute a pursuit. There are many factors involved. Is the violator actively trying to avoid being stopped? Do they even know a police officer is trying to stop them? What is the nature of the original violation? What are the weather and traffic conditions? If a pursuit is initiated, the officer involved is required to communicate the nature of the situation to a supervisor, who then makes the decision whether the pursuit is to be continued or not.
A zero pursuit policy would be ludicrous. Do you really want to share the road with every halfwit who knows that if they run, the police will just automatically quit? Did any of you see the story about the moron arrested for 150+mph on the Thruway a few weeks back? He was eventually apprehended and arrested due to a very clear cut pursuit policy.
In regards to the comments made by #10, your ignorance is showing (again). No, the police aren't gods. If you don't like the way they are driving, the cars are usually clearly marked with a unit # and an agency. Make a call and voice your complaint, as opposed to just making pissy comments anonymously on a blog. A young Trooper died as the result of a motor vehicle accident, doing a job that you know nothing about. Your comments do a grave disservice to her and every other police officer.
# 18. 6/4/12 9:07 AM
SUV's are more dangerous in general to themselves and to others.
# 19. 6/4/12 9:25 AM by Steve
Maybe Chuck Schumer can look into it when he gets done worrying about how I clean my BBQ grill.
# 20. 6/4/12 10:44 AM by cj
I wouldn't speed in mine just due to the feel yet the officers sure can pull me over if I'm not wearing a seatbelt or when they THINK i'M SPEEDING. but they can speed... it's alright in fact encouraged... to do pursuits... to do whatever they want which if in the realm of reason I would say it's alright but it's too much of a double standard and oh they drink and drive too and if caught you know what? they get off with barely a slap on the wrist you tough crime advocates will be the first to run to their rescue and enable them
# 21. 6/4/12 11:20 AM by Bill - Dallas, TX
SUV police vehicles are standard issue in Allen, Texas. I can assure you that it isn't due to the snow.
# 22. 6/4/12 11:22 AM
It's tough when the adrenalin is running to stop and think "whoa I can't do this". Unfortunately I believe that's what happened in both of these cases.
Blaming the vehicle obscures the fact that the drivers didn't know or accept their vehicle limitations.
Such a sad tragedy. Troopers need to remember they are not superhuman. If you push a machine past its limits, bad things happen.
# 23. 6/4/12 11:55 AM by mike
most, if not all SP tahoes are two wheel drive.
Editor's Note: that is the typical police package, i think.
# 24. 6/4/12 12:48 PM by Rocky - Penfield
About the dog shooting situation,strange that it took six years for that event to happen, strange that over the years hundreds of calls were not made about a dangerous dog on our street, strange that the police didn't respond with their side of the story,strange that there was no party at the house, strange that someone called? and said there was one.If true, strange that the dog was shoot in the back of the head. I would need a lot more information before blindly supporting either side of this issue.
# 25. 6/4/12 2:16 PM by Tom - Webster
The technology exists which enables the police to shut down the escapee's engine. OnStar has had it for a few years now. Why persue the offender when the police can remotely shut down their engine. Nobody dies! Or will this ruin all the exciting movie chase scenes?
# 26. 6/4/12 3:04 PM by Martin Manning - Kaysville, Utah
Mr. Lonsberry, I am sending this in hopes you will read it and take action on it. I have an idea for a column. I hope you agree and decide to write the column, since you have an audience and since you are a fantastic column writer. The idea has to do with a comparison of Pres. Reagan and Pres. Obama. When Pres. Reagan took office, Pres. Carter left him with huge inflation, huge interest rates, hostages in Iran, etc. etc. My belief and recollection, is that Pres. Reagan seldom or never made mention of the hand he was dealt. He rolled up his sleeves and played the hand. In fact he asked to play the hand by running for the office. In summary, he acted like a MAN. Pres. Obama, now 3 1/2 years later is still bemoaning the hand he was dealt, and still blaming someone else. Someone with great writing and/or oratory skills (like you) should bring this comparison to everyone's attention. He refuses to man up and act like a man, like Pres. Reagan did. Thanks for your consideration.
Editor's Note: good point
# 27. 6/4/12 4:38 PM by Louis - Kendall NY
It's about poor judgment Bob. Bad decisions that we get to pay for... NY State Trooper Craig Todeschini [badge number 5060] was tragically killed when he lost control of his [large] police SUV & crashed while pursuing [on wet roads] a speeding motorcyclist [Carncross] who was driving 100+ mph on a county road in rural central NY, April 23, 2006. Both parties that day regrettably used poor judgment. The NYSP is very angry about the fatality and the fleeing motorcycles and rightfully so, but that does not justify the use of a large SUV to chase a speeding motorcycle with no regard for the safety of the motoring public. In typical bureaucratic response to the ongoing motorcycle “problem”; the NYSP responded with retribution disguised as a federally funded motorcycle checkpoint program started in 2007 called Operation 50-60. Any officials whom proclaim the motorcycle only checkpoints are not retribution are being less than honest with those whom they serve.
# 28. 6/4/12 8:41 PM by Really miss Rochester - Canton, MI
I lived in Rochester from 1978 until the early 90's when the wheels fell off for Mainframe programmers ( Kodak started it's decline, Xerox was always weird, and Ross Perot thought he bought GM instead of the other way around. I loved Rochester and wanted to live there forever, but it wasn't meant to be. I mourn the loss of the Trooper. Best case, they can reconstruct what happened and use it as a teaching tool - I hope so. I live now in the Detroit, Michigan area. the Michigan State Police know vehicles. The NYSP website boasts about how good they are with Radar guns, the MSP actually test and evaluate police vehicles. I hope this Trooper wasn't killed because of institutional arogance
Please take a look at this:
# 29. 6/4/12 10:14 PM by dave
"i believe a certain amount of that is ego driven. dr. freud explains the popularity of these vehicles better than snow does. "
I agree, Bob. Out our way, the vast majority of the State boys are in Tahoes, and their egos are at least as large as the SUVs they drive.
Back on topic, it's clear that the State Police Dept is not teaching recruits how to drive safely. In most of the cases like these, the officer simply drove beyond the limits of the vehicle.
# 30. 6/5/12 7:19 AM by Tom - Fairport, NY
I've noticed that the use the Tahoe as the vehicle of choice on The Mentalist. What a hulking monster of a vehicle for a police chase. Great mileage, too.
Maybe these police departments just want to keep up with what they see on tv.
# 31. 6/6/12 1:38 AM - SLC, UT
As a kid I was in a station wagon that had a tire blowout on the freeway. We spun around multiple times. Not rolled, but spun around, all four tires remaining on the pavement the whole time. I'm glad we weren't in an SUV.
# 32. 6/10/12 6:44 PM by Lester Chester - North Syracuse, NY
Hey Bob... likely high speed and/or distracted driving was the cause of Trooper Anna's crash. As it is, State Police vehicles have 2 or more police radios, laptop computer, cell phone, etc... etc. I drive 50-60k a year and I see many police vehicles in my travels, many of which have a police officer inside working this equipment while driving as their passing me at a high rate of speed.
Bottom line is trying catching a speeder is not worth risking their own lives as well as endangering the public.
As for the vehicle itself, just remember it took a about 30 police officer's horrific deaths to get Ford to fix the issue of fuel tanks exploding in the Crown Vic's when rear-ended at a high rate of speed speed while stopped for a traffic stop along the highway... and even still, the fire suppressant system installed on these cars don't always work.
# 33. 6/13/12 8:58 AM by Some Guy - Rochester, NY
I have not heard anything other than rumor and supposition to back up the story that the deceased trooper was engaged in hot pursuit, I think it's unfortunately a story created to make the reality of her unfortunate death easier for her family and co-workers to bear.
Your column is quite honest about the aggravating factor of the risk a vehicle with a much higher center of gravity creates. Your commenters are very correct about their life experiences that can see many law enforcement officers putting themselves and others in harm's way for the most trivial of violations so they can meet the ticket quota set by their management that their union has not spoken out against for fear of overtime retribution.
Two Thirds of the force have total wages in excess of six figures, and the laws of physics seem to be the only thing that will bring some of these individuals from their god-like self-image that a different set of rules apply to them.
Because of political and union leadership that created and cultivated an environment of narcissism among the NYSP, another promising young life has been cut short. A family and friends will once again pay the ultimate price for a training and recruitment regime which leads to the adrenaline-fueled, steroid-exacerbated world where no one questions whether a traffic ticket was worth a woman's life--or just as possible, that a myth has to be perpetuated to make the death easier for her co-workers to move on, even if it keeps them in a mindset that places them and the rest of society at greater risk.
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