The Peril Of The Chase

Run from a police officer, and his first instinct will likely be to chase 'til the wheels fall off — even for minor crimes. But these chases can come at dangerously great speeds, reports, CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann, carrying even greater risks.

Police chases kill more than 300 people a year. And one-third of them are innocent bystanders.

Jim Phillips' daughter Sarah was killed during a high-speed police chase in Orange County, Fla. He has watched her die over and over in a police tape of the moment.

In it, the car goes over a rise and … boom.

"There they go," Phillips said while watching the tape. "It was totally preventable. It didn't need to happen. They didn't need to chase."

Deputies were chasing two possible gun suspects in a Volkswagen Jetta. Sarah was in another car — and the Jetta plowed right into her.

"You see this explosion," Phillips said. "That's parts of her car going everywhere." Going 70 mph, the driver "never slowed down or stepped on the brakes. He went straight for her."

And so Phillips has watched his daughter die, over and over. And since first seeing the videotape, Phillips sued the Orange County Sheriff's office and became a national expert on police pursuits.

In his own community, Phillips helped change the chase policies of a dozen police agencies. Now the Orlando Police Department has the most restrictive policy in the entire country.

"I'll basically boil it down to you as saying if you can't shoot 'em don't chase 'em," said Orlando Police Chief Michael McCoy.

Orlando's community board decided that most crimes just weren't worth the risks of chasing, especially when a cop's adrenaline is racing like his cruiser.

"You're not looking at the school bus dropping off kids," said Orlando Police Department Capt. Paul Rooney. "You're not looking at pedestrians crossing the street. You are just focused on catching that bad guy in that car."

So now, in most chase situations, Orlando cops actually have to stop the chase, pull over, and turn around. And yes, it is frustrating for officers on patrol, like Shawn Dunlop. Sometimes it must tick him off, right?

"It does, and they know that if they take off we are not going to chase them because we can't," Dunlop said. "And it becomes a game for them, but it's a game that we're not willing to play."

But police in many communities still chase for almost any crime.

Victims like Sarah Phillips can die when no one's willing to hit the brakes first.

"I've been accused of exploiting her death and you know what? I have," her father said. "Because I exploit her death to get the message across."

But it's a message Phillips says many police agencies have yet to understand.