Sunday 9 November 2008

Car chases

Many years ago, just before I departed Perth for warmer economic climes on the east coast, the media was having a field day abusing the Police over a number of chases that had gone badly wrong. The last straw was when a VW was cleaned up and a mother and child killed. From that point on, police chases pretty much ended for some time. Perth seems to the ideal place to steal a car for an adrenaline fueled joyride.

I don't know if much has changed, but before I left, kids (mostly of the indigenous variety) would sniff some glue, steal a car and then drive around until they found a Police car. At that point, they'd drive into the back of it, giving it a nudge, and then the chase would be on. Perth is a great city for driving fast at night - traffic (back then) was minimal, the roads wide and straight and flat, and it was easy to get up to 200km/h. Try doing that on Parramatta Road!

I experience something of this first hand one night when I went to a party in the hills with a mate. He drove an RX-3, a beast of a thing, and we both got completely hammered. I knew at about midnight that the party was over for me, so I crawled into the backseat of his car and went to sleep.

I woke up around 3am to find that we were going through a red light. I looked at the speedo to find that we were doing 180km/h. When I asked Dave what he was doing, he said, "I'm slowing down for the red lights". He had that thing going at warp speed. I was drunk beyond caring, so I simply lay down and went back to sleep. It took us an hour to get to the party and about 20 minutes to get home.

I never cadged a lift to a party with Dave ever again.

Although we did ride a motorbike, naked, down Stirling Hwy at around 1am one morning as we left a nude pool party that was out of booze, went home, collected some grog and returned. If you have to ask why, you've never been 19 years old and in the shower with a couple of chicks.

Crashes in Perth in those circumstances were terrible because of the speeds the nongs were doing - a mate of mine, who was a copper at the time, was chasing a car that went through a red light into the side of a Range Rover. The driver was a well known local businessman, and he was killed outright in the collision.

The Police of course copped all the abuse for crashes like that - no one wanted to blame the 15 year old kids, high on glue or drunk, who were stealing cars and deliberately initiating chases for the thrill of it - knowing that if they were caught, the consequences would be minimal.

The upshot is that we went through a decade where police chases were bad, bad things.

The attitude of the media seems to have shifted 180 degrees in the last few years. They've woken up and realised that people get killed by these idiots even when the Police aren't chasing them. They do dumb things like race each other from the lights, and smack into other cars unfortunate enough to get in the way. They speed recklessly and smash into power poles. They get drunk and speed recklessly and smash into houses. And all the while, the Police are sitting in their stations, drinking skinny lattes and filling out paperwork. Unless they are in Five Wog - in that case, they are eating fish and chips (the fish and chips around here must be good - the Riot Squad sent a Landcruiser out this way a few weeks back for a large order of shark and spud).

Anyway, the result is that the media are now firmly on the side of Plod. Plod can crash and bang and tip their cars upside down as many times as they like, and not a peep will be heard from the media.

Which is a good thing.

If you ask me, Police chases should last only so long as it takes to do the following:

  • put a shotgun round into a tyre
  • put a shotgun round into the engine
  • put a shotgun round into the driver
Take your pick as to which method you use - I don't care. If you want to steal a car, or go hot rodding through suburban streets at 100mph, you can deal with the consequences of having your rear tyre shot out and going sideways and upside down into a bridge abutment.

No comments: