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High Court Ruling Could Affect Pursuits

PHOENIX --

In December 2007, a bank robber who wouldn't pull over for police instead drove 100 miles per hour in rush hour and slammed head-on into the car of 24-year-old Alex Ahmad of Scottsdale, killing Ahmad.

Ahmad's death reignited the debate over whether police should engage in car chases.

Now, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling could force law enforcement agencies to take another close look at their policies.

In Sykes vs. the United States, the court ruled that someone who intentionally flees from police in a vehicle is committing a violent felony.

That could put agencies like Phoenix Police in a tricky spot because their officers are trained to pursue if the suspect has committed a violent felony.

"It still does not relieve officers from the responsibility of exercising caution and showing due regard for the safety of the community when engaging in a pursuit," Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said in a statement.

The Department of Public Safety expects that their legal advisers will look at the ruling and determine if it affects their policy.

For now, DPS does not believe it means officers have to chase every time.

"What we try to weigh is the crime the person committed versus the need to apprehend them versus the danger to the public, the law enforcement officers and the suspect we're pursuing," said DPS Capt. Steve Harrison.

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