Agency Report: Georgia Highway Chases Saw A Big Jump In 2020

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia agency says the number of highway chases involving state law enforcement officers jumped dramatically in 2020, resulting in hundreds of injuries and a few deaths.

According to a report by the state Department of Public Safety, the Georgia State Patrol and officers from other state agencies took part in more than 1,200 pursuits statewide last year.

That’s almost double the number of chases in 2019 and the highest total in the past five years, WTOC-TV reported.

“It seems like people run more and more from the police,” said Lt Mark Riley, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety. “I really don’t know what the catalyst is for that.”

Officials say the increase has put more people in danger. The Public Safety report showed there were crashes in nearly 70% of highway chases last year. A total of 486 state troopers and officers were injured, as were 67 innocent bystanders. No law officers got killed, but four bystanders died.

Most of the chases tracked by the state involved troopers with the Georgia State Patrol. A small number of pursuits also involved state Capitol police and the Georgia Motor Carrier Division.

“Best case scenario is we get someone off the streets who is a danger to the public and a danger to society without incident — meaning that we don’t get hurt,” Riley said. “We don’t sustain any injuries they don’t sustain any injuries there’s no property damage.”

According to the department's report, that happened in less than 1-in-3 Georgia highway chases last year.