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Media coverage of car chases: entertaining, pointless or irresponsible?

A murder suspect led police on a lengthy chase Tuesday before being shot by officers.
A murder suspect led police on a lengthy chase Tuesday before being shot by officers.

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A wave of car chases throughout Southern California has caused the police force to disparage the way media outlets handle coverage of chases, stating that live coverage from the scene of chases does little but exacerbate the problem.

According to the LA Police Protective League, “media coverage of police chasing dangerous felons in the southland have put thousands of people, including dozens of police officers, in extreme danger. Police chases and the aftermath are certainly newsworthy, but the recent live television coverage has had the feel of a sporting event – with accompanying colorful commentary.”

Last week, live coverage of a police pursuit saw a shootout between a suspect and police on live television, and in another chase, saw a mob scene follow a car after money was thrown out of the window. Police then not only had to deal with pursuing the suspect, but also a crowd surrounding the car, hoping for more money. “In these situations, the responsibility lies with the suspect for not submitting to arrest, the public to stay out of the way, the officers to use good judgment when in pursuit and the media to limit its coverage,” says the LAPPL. “We aren’t questioning the news value – when it’s over – and in some cases as a warning for public safety, but many times …live coverage endangers the public.”

Do you enjoy watching police chases on TV or do you find them to be a distraction, or even dangerous?


Tyler Izen, President of the Los Angeles Police Protective League

Jeff Baugh, airborne reporter for KNX 1070 news radio