High-speed police chases have killed thousands of innocent bystanders

Alisha Jackson is surrounded by neighbors during a vigil held to help the families that had children killed and injured during a high speed chase in Detroit's east side on June 26.

Alisha Jackson is surrounded by neighbors during a vigil held to help the families that had children killed and injured during a high speed chase in Detroit's east side on June 26.

More than 5,000 bystanders and passengers have been killed in U.S. police car chases since 1979, and tens of thousands more were injured as officers repeatedly pursued drivers at high speeds and in hazardous conditions, often for minor infractions, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

Although police chases have been recognized as dangerous for nearly half a century, both training and technology remain inadequate, experts say. The average police trainee received 72 hours of weapons training compared to 40 hours of driving training, only a portion of which covered chases, according to a 2006 Justice Department study of police training academies.

At least 11,506 people, including 6,300 fleeing suspects, were killed in police chases from 1979 through 2013, most recent year for which NHTSA records are available. That's an average of 329 a year, nearly one person a day.

Why are the means to punish more important than human life in America?