The death of a woman following a police chase five years ago prompted Edmonton Police to stop pursuing stolen cars that are tracked by OnStar or other GPS services.
Colleen Joan Cappo, 31, died in February 2009. She was the passenger in a stolen 2008 Grand Prix that crashed into a tree at 55th Street and 118th Avenue after the driver sped away from police.
A fatality inquiry reviewed the circumstances around Cappo’s death.
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In his report released Tuesday, provincial court judge Raymond Bodnarek found that Edmonton police changed the policy so stolen vehicles with GPS tracking are not chased if contact is made between the police dispatch and the satellite service.
New recruits are also given a three-hour lecture on criminal flight response, or CFR, policy.
The judge decided not to issue any recommendations since EPS made these changes already.
“The EPS has demonstrated that they are responsive to adapting their CFR policy to keep pace with emerging technologies and changing circumstances -- in this case adapting to GPS tracking services offered by certain car manufacturers,” he wrote.
The pursuit started around 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 16, 2009 when police were notified about the stolen Grand Prix by the OnStar computer system.
When police found the car, they tried to box it off with two cruisers. However, the driver was able to speed away.
The two police cruisers took off in pursuit. The lead cruiser stopped the chase after six blocks because the Grand Prix was speeding -- reportedly in excess of 100 km/hr -- and swerving into oncoming traffic. The second car kept going for another six blocks before stopping.
The chase lasted 28 seconds.
The Grand Prix crashed into the tree 29 seconds later. Cappo was extracted from the vehicle and taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital where she later died.
The judge determined police made two policy breaches in the pursuit.
The two vehicles didn’t have their sirens on for the entire pursuit, and the officer in the second car didn’t stop his chase because he mistakenly believed that call could only come from the supervising sergeant.
However, the judge believes that neither one of these breaches caused the crash that killed Cappo.
In 2009, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team cleared both officers involved in the pursuit.