Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Minneapolis, MN, USA
Thanks to Brian (BLBantz)
I'd like to thank Brian for his common sense thoughts on this subject since this subject is rather close to me.
I hope that more emergency and first response type departments implement the type of guidelines Brian talked about.
A little personal history:
I live in a 1920's residential area of Minneapolis in which the streets are laid out in a rectangular grid (a one mile square has 16 streets in one direction and 8 in the other).
Very roughly five years ago, at an intersection close to where I live, there occurred a collision between a police cruiser Crown Vic and and a small pick-up (Ford Ranger IIRC) driven by a young man in his early twenties with a male passenger about the same age.
If I remember the story correctly it went something like this:
The time was about 1:00 AM, the pick-up was driving at an estimated 30 mph on a residential through-street, the cruiser was on a side street with a stop sign at an estimated 80-90 mph (IIRC). After the collision, the pick-up with it's dead driver (with seat belt on) and his brain injured passenger came to rest against the corner house. One of the front wheels was found in the back yard of the house, it had to go over the two story house to get there.
For either driver to see the cruiser, they would need to be with-in about 30-40 feet of the intersection.
The driving officer told the investigators that he had lights on but no siren. The lights were found to be switched off after the collision. He also told the investigators that he and his partner were pursuing a suspected burglar that they thought they saw from about five blocks away. There was a bulletin out for a car with no headlights on, suspected of a burglary.
In the end, after much fuss and media attention, both officers remained at their jobs with little or no repercussions. It was decided that they were operating with-in department guidelines.
Rewind to about 15 years earlier (Jan 7. 1986 to be exact):
It's about 2:00 AM, about a mile further down the same street, I'm driving my ex-wife who is in labor to the local hospital. It's snowing pretty good, so, we're in my trusty OLD '67 Ford Bronco doing about 25 mph. Just as we approach an intersection that has a light industrial building on the near left corner and a stop sign for the cross street, an ambulance from the local county emergency hospital (with lights on and no siren) blows through the sign at I would guess to be about 40-50 mph and crosses my path with-in about 10 feet as I veer to the left to avoid him.
The industrial building is set about 12 feet back from both curbs. With him going about twice as fast as us, I figure that I was about 15-20 feet from the intersection before he came into the side of my vision.
The ambulance was the type with a walk-in box set on a heavy-duty (one ton I'd guess) van chassis.
If he had hit us, I suspect that the outcome would have been similar to the later incident. I call the county later and was told that they often don't use their sirens at night because they didn't want to awake people. I didn't push it, but, I think this was just a line to get rid of me.
In the end, all three of us are alive and well, but for about 1-1/2 sec. or less it could have been a very different story and I never would have been riding a LT and reading this great forum.
'03 (new on 7/31/2004) LTC Anthracite