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Police In D.C. Can No Longer Chase Carjackers

A Washington Post editorial board wrote a very intriguing opinion piece that noted police officers in Washington D.C. have a “no chase” policy that they have to abide by when it comes to carjackings.

In the piece titled “As carjackings spike, police need to be able to chase vehicles again” the Washington Post advocated for Washington D.C. to get rid of its no-chase policy that prevents officers from chasing carjackers.

In the report, the Washington Post reported 827 carjackings have occurred in the city so far this year.

According to the no chase policy officers can only chase carjackers if “there is an “imminent threat” to others, there is a low likelihood of anyone else getting hurt and police can apprehend quickly.”

Per The Washington Post:

When a robber pointed a gun at Stephanie Traub’s forehead and demanded her purse and car keys, she didn’t know a U.S. congressman had been carjacked at gunpoint an hour earlier. While many were focused on Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.) on Oct. 2 — a Monday night — Ms. Traub was driving home from a pinball league. She parked a block from her home about a mile east of the U.S. Capitol. She had never feared for her safety before, but something felt off when she exited her vehicle and heard another car door slam nearby. Then the gun was in her face.
Ms. Traub handed over her belongings. The gunman ran to her car and sped away. She called 911, and D.C. police arrived swiftly. Ms. Traub had an Apple device in her 2008 Honda SUV that enabled her to track it. She sat on her front stoop with her laptop and three D.C. police officers looking over her shoulder as she watched the carjacker’s location around the city. “Aren’t you going to go get him?” Ms. Traub asked. “We can’t pursue,” she recalls an officer saying.

Carjacking, when a robber demands a vehicle from someone, in-person, is a national problem. While many cities have seen a decline in violent crime this year, motor vehicle theft doubled in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2022. The crime has become common in D.C. There have been 827 carjackings in the city so far this year (through Oct. 29). At this point of the year, the District has doubled last year’s number and has six times as many as in 2019. The worst place in the city for carjackings is the D.C. police department’s 6th District, east of the Anacostia River. The second-worst is the 1st District, around the Capitol, where the carjackings against both Ms. Traub and Mr. Cuellar occurred.

The police have not yet caught Ms. Traub’s carjacker, as is often the case. She blames D.C.’s “no chase” policy for police. The District had effectively banned police chases earlier this year, as part of a national trend in recent years to prevent often fatal pursuit-related crashes. But D.C’s ban went too far. As violent crime in the city surged, the D.C. Council passed emergency legislation this summer to adopt a slightly more permissive standard for police pursuits.

The new policy, which was in place the night Ms. Traub was carjacked, permits police to chase when there is an “imminent threat” to others, there is a low likelihood of anyone else getting hurt and police can apprehend quickly. Yet if this policy rules out pursuing the perpetrator in Ms. Traub’s case (either by car or by helicopter), it and those like it in other cities are still too restrictive.

Democratic Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar previously was carjacked in Washington DC.

Per ABC News:

Democratic Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar was carjacked at gunpoint Monday night near his residence in the Navy Yard area of Washington, D.C. just blocks from the Capitol.

An alert sent to congressional members stated three to four men held guns to his head and took his car and phone, sources told ABC News.

Cuellar’s chief of staff, Jacob Hochberg, confirmed the carjacking news in a statement to ABC News late Monday night.

“As Congressman Cuellar was parking his car this evening, 3 armed assailants approached the Congressman and stole his vehicle. Luckily, he was not harmed and is working with local law enforcement. Thank you to Metro PD and Capitol Police for their swift action and for recovering the Congressman’s vehicle,” his statement read


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