High Speed Chase - 2/11/05
Before and since the days of O.J., Los Angeles has always been the home of the high speed chase. Maybe it's the climate, or the wide selection of highways, but when people get in trouble with the law around here, their natural instinct seems to be to jump in their car and try to get away. They never do, and these chases never quite attain an action-movie-like level of coolness... but it still makes good television when you're bored.

On Monday, Noah, Brian and I watched one such high speed chase. Apparently this guy shot somebody, hopped in his car, and, with roughly 40 cop cars chasing him, drove from Korea Town to Orange Country. The 90-minute pursuit down highways, surface streets and back roads finally ended in San Juan Capistrano where the suspect accidentally drove into somebody's dead-end cul-de-sac, and was apprehended. Although the cuplrit occasionally ran red lights and drove upwards of 100 miles an hour on the freeway, there was very little that was Cops-worthy about this chase - mostly the guy obeyed traffic laws, didn't hit anybody, and even made proper use of his blinker. Still, we were glued to the TV for a good hour. Plenty of time to develop some interesting thoughts on the whole affair.

First of all, to the suspect: C'mon, guy. Do you really think you're going to get away? There are 40 cop cars chasing you, and 3 helicopters. There are roughly ten million people watching you on television, all of whom now know what your car looks like. Were you planning on slipping stealthily into a bush at a rest stop and hiding until all the commotion dies down? Or maybe you were planning on driving to drive to Mexico. I'm not sure, but I think they might have a checkpoint or some kind of security at the border. Also, Mexico's like 200 miles away. Did you remember to fill up on gas before you left? Do you think you'll be able to use your Speedpass at Chevron before 40 cops tackle you into Pump #6? Seriously, what are you doing? Stop wasting everybody's time. Those cops are just getting more pissed off at you, every mile you make them follow you out into the boondocks. At least roll your car over or something cool like that, or drive off a cliff Thelma and Louise-style and make a statement. That would be much cooler than what you're doing now, driving 65 and making random, careful turns, causing traffic jams on every road you pass. Lame-ass.

Second, we decided that it would be way cooler if, along of the "Elapsed Chase Time" clock they have constantly ticking on the screen, they also included a list of committed offenses, and a counter of exactly how long the suspect will spend in jail if apprehended. Isn't that what everybody is wondering anyway? In this case, the guy already allegedly shot somebody, so say that's 5 years if the person's still alive, 25 years if they're not. Plus, he may or may not have then thrown the victim in the trunk, which would add a kidnapping charge to the list. Then he resisted arrest, evaded authorities, plus a whole slew of traffic offenses he committed while fleeing in his car. Endangering the lives of other motorists? Two more weeks in the slammer. Reckless driving? One week, plus license suspension. Right turn on a red arrow? That's a $250 ticket without a possibility of traffic school (Brian thought of that one). Maybe they could even find out how old the guy is, and calculate the remaining number of days he'd spend in his life NOT in prison. I dunno, be creative, people.

The third cool thing about all this was the whole issue about whether or not there was somebody locked in the trunk while this guys was driving around. I guess a cell phone call was made from the alleged shooting victim, saying he was in the trunk, wounded but still alive. The downside of this is that the LAPD was reluctant to ram the car and force it off the road, lest this victim be endangered. But the upside is that the cops got super uppity about the possibility of someone being in the trunk when they finally pulled the guy over. He might be dead, he might be still alive, or he might be an accomplice with a gun ready come out of the trunk firing. So these 40 cops all swarmed around the trunk of this parked car, guns drawn, as one of them finally opened it, andů there was nobody in there. Apparently some random had just called the police station on their cell phone and made up that they were locked in the trunk of this car they saw being chased on TV. And to me, this is hilarious. Not so much that the authorities were duped, but rather that somebody was as bored as we were, sitting there and watching this thing for an hour and a half, and decided to make it more interesting. I'd love to meet whoever it was, and shake his hand. And watch the counter floating above his head, counting slowly upwards, of how much trouble he'll be in if they ever catch him.

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