September 23, 2009

Second Ottawa civilian car chase reported

Ottawa, Canada, police acknowledged for the second time in a week a 911 emergency dispatcher instructed a civilian to chase a suspected criminal's car.

Federal employee Josie Mousseau contacted the Ottawa Citizen Tuesday after a report was published describing how two men in a Porsche chased a sexual assault suspect at high speeds for 20 minutes last week.

Mousseau told the newspaper she and her daughter were instructed by a 911 operator to follow a man who allegedly held up a pharmacy at gunpoint in July.

Police Chief Vern White confirmed the woman's allegations after reviewing 911 transcripts and apologized.

This was the wrong thing to do, White said of the dispatcher's instructions.

Mousseau said when she called 911 to report the robbery and describe the suspect and his car, the dispatcher asked her to follow him until police arrived, which took almost 15 minutes and covered nearly five miles.

As a result of the two incidents reported in two days, the police chief said in his statement he had ordered dispatchers not to direct, recommend or encourage any member of the public who is a witness to a crime to follow, chase or pursue a suspect or suspect's vehicle, the newspaper said.