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JULY 27 / 2008
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How the arsenal crash unfolded
1:04:48 - Bonneville turns south on Memorial Parkway.
A TIMES SPECIAL REPORT
Mem oria l Par
1:05:20 - Bonneville
critical moments as the chase unfolded: • Did the women that officers suspected of street-level drug dealing pose the kind of danger that justified a hazBy NIKI DOYLE ardous chase? Times Staff Writer •Whydidofficerscontinuethepurniki.firstname.lastname@example.org suit even though they had the car’s tag ewly released recordings from a number, a likely giveaway to their susMay police chase that ended in pects’ identities and addresses? a fatal crash on Red• Why did the chase stone Arsenal show continue as the women In today’s Times sped onto heavily traveled Huntsville police pursued thefleeingcarformorethan • Most victims SouthMemorialParkwayat of police chase ac8 minutes and 11 miles, 70 mph or more and onto cidents are byprompting some experts Redstone Arsenal, a secure standers. A6 to ask whether the chase military base where their • More pursuit should have been aborted escapewouldhavebeenuntraining is needed, sooner. likely? but it comes at a The police recordings, price. A7 An added complication requested by The Times, was the chase speeding chronicle the chase of 35onto federal property. Poyear-old Valorie Keil Cox, who fled po- lice radio logs show that Redstone lice after an alleged drug deal. authorities had only a fraction of a Huntsville police say the pursuit fol- second warning that a car fleeing lowed its policy giving officers wide dis- Huntsville police was about to breach cretion when they believe the need to a security gate. By the time make an arrest outweighs the risk to Huntsville dispatchers could relay the public safety. information, the car had already caBut experts question some decisions officers and their supervisors made at Please see DEADLY on A6
Police chase of alleged street-level drug dealer ends in bystander death
1:02:48 - White Bonneville begins to slow and pull over, but takes off again.
chase coming into its jurisdiction; description and license plate number dispatched again.
1:04:07 - South precinct notified of
sideswipes tan Buick LaSabre near Airport Road exit ramp - Buick pulls over at old Ramada Inn.
The driver The victim
1:06:51 - Vehicle
veers onto Martin Road exit. 1:07:03 - Unit asks dispatch to notify arsenal.
Valorie Keil Cox, 35, has pleaded not guilty to a federal charge of seconddegree murder.
Darren Spurlock, 39, was an employee of Marshall Space Flight Center.
Redstone Arsenal Boulevard
1:08:06 - Bonneville runs through the gate. Also at exactly 1:08:06, HPD dispatch tells Redstone dispatch, “We’ve got a pursuit going on; it’s heading toward the arsenal.” 1:09:00 - Redstone learns it’s Gate 1; HPD dispatch says, “It’s one of our unmarked units; our narcotics guys.”
1:10:40 - A west precinct officer asks if the offenders have been identified – dispatch asks this of STAC 11 1:10:52 - Wreck at Rideout, according to STAC 4 1:11:05 - Units ask for ambulance 1:13:57 - Frank (traffic fatality) unit requested
1:09:46 - Passing Mills Road 1:09:57 - A south precinct supervisor tells
dispatch to keep additional south units off the base – “They should have enough folks on the arsenal already.”
Source: Huntsville Police Department
To hear 911 audio recordings, go to blog.al.com/ht/chase
THIS, BUD, IS FOR YOU
The end of U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer’s career in Congress is recognized with a special section honoring his work.
Congress approves mortgage relief for 400,000 struggling homeowners Saturday as part of an election-year housing plan that also aims to calm jittery financial markets and bolster the sagging economy.
IN NEWS: Measure awaits Bush’s signature. PAGE A3
IN PARADE: The world saw Marilyn Monroe as a sex symbol, but failed to realize that underneath that image was an empowered woman.
Goosepond Island residents worry that an industrial site proposed for their neighborhood may disrupt the tranquility of the area.
IN NEWS: Athens man buys site. PAGE A15
Huntsville, Alabama Vol. 99, No. 127, 90 pages Contents © 2008, Huntsville Times
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READ IT MONDAY: Ten children’s books to get them ready for school.
A6 The Huntsville Times, Sunday, July 27, 2008
National and state pursuit deaths 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Police Chased Other vehicle vehicle vehicle Alabama 0 6 0 United States 7 190 103 Alabama 0 5 1 United States 4 223 121 Alabama 0 12 1 United States 6 248 121 Alabama 0 8 1 United States 6 229 106 Alabama 0 11 1 United States 9 214 108 Alabama 0 6 2 United States 5 234 104 Alabama 0 11 3 United States 3 268 122
Total Other deaths 0 6 10 310 0 6 22 370 0 13 11 386 1 10 13 354 0 12 12 343 2 10 16 359 1 15 11 404
The Huntsville Times
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The pursuit ended with this fatal crash just inside Redstone Arsenal on Martin Road.
20 times more innocent drivers killed than cops
Times Staff Writer email@example.com
Chase victims often bystanders
es. According to its research, 70,000 pursuits are launched eachyearwith28,000resulting in wrecks. Data on police chases often conflict because pursuit reporting is voluntary for many police agencies. Also, many victims die days after a report is filed, and their deaths may not be attributed to a chase. Huntsville police only recently began reporting all pursuits.Before,logswerefilledout only if there were injuries or property damage. Whether to pursue a suspect poses a dilemma for officers, who must weigh the hazards of a chase against the risk of letting a suspect get away. Police were chasing two street-level drug suspects on May 30 when their car slammed into Spurlock’s on Redstone Arsenal. Spurlock, 39, had only been in his NASA job for two weeks when the accident occurred. He previously had worked for the Boeing Co. Spurlock left behind his wife, Kelly, and two sons, ages 6 and 3.
By JOHN PECK
Innocent motorists such as NASA engineer Darren Spurlock are 20 times more likely to be killed than the officer when a police chase goes awry. From 2000 through 2006, accordingtotheNationalHighway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 2,500 people were killed during police pursuits. Of those, 40 were in the policevehicle,1,606wereinthe chased vehicle, 785 were in another vehicle, and just under 100 were pedestrians. Alabamarecorded72policechasefatalitiesinthoseyears.Of those, none were in the police car, 59 were in the fleeing vehicle, nine were in another vehicle and four were on foot. PursuitWatch,anationalpolice chase watchdog organization, says 14,000 people are injured each year in police chas-
“They’re driving with a suspended license, or we have a warrant for their arrest for a traffic citation, things like that. They simply don’t consider the risk.”
Henry Reyes Huntsville police chief
A federal grand jury indicted the getaway driver, Valorie Keil Cox, on a second-degree murdercharge.Prosecutorsaccuse her of driving in a “mannerwithextremeindifferenceto human life.” She pleaded not guilty Thursday. John Harris Phillips, president of the Florida-based PursuitWatch.org, said an officer pursuing someone who has not committed a violent crime is akin to “shooting a gun in a crowded room. Sometimes, nothing will happen. Other lane split roadway. Only then did the pursuit come up in the 70s when they turned on the Parkway. “Assoonastheyturnedonthe Parkway, they struck a car and committedafelony.Itwasavery unfortunate set of circumstances that made this continue.” •••••
times, you’ll hit other people.” Phillips’ interest in chases is personal. His sister, Sarah Phillips, died in 2001 in a crash with a fleeing vehicle in Orange County, Fla. Sarah’s father, the late Jim Phillips, started PursuitWatch with the goal of pushing safer and smarter police pursuit policies. John Phillips took the helm of PursuitWatchwhenhisfatherdied. “Ithinkalotoftimes,thenegative perception is that if we don’t pursue, the bad guys get away,” PhillipstoldTheTimesby
phone. Phillips questions the need for pursuit if police have a tag number or the identity of the suspect and there’s no imminent danger to the public. “Where we come from is, do theofficersbelievethefleeingcar isasuspectinaviolentcrimelike murder, rape, armed robbery? If that is not the case, it’s not worth the risk to the public and officers involved to pursue,” he said. Geoffrey Albert is a criminologist at the University of South Carolina and one of the nation’s leadingexpertsonpursuits. Alpert contends cops shouldn’tchaseasuspectunless a violent felony is involved. Butstudiesshowviolentacts rarely trigger police chases. Ina2000studyfundedbyan arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, Alpert’s research team examined144chasesandfound that driving a stolen car – cited by 32 percent of drivers who were caught – was the most common reason for running frompolice.Otherleadingcauses:28percentweredrivingwith suspended licenses and 22 percent were driving while intoxicated. HuntsvillePoliceChiefHenry Reyes agreed most motorists who try to outrun police aren’t doing so because of serious offenses. “They’re driving with a suspended license, or we have a warrantfortheirarrestforatraffic citation, things like that,” Reyes said. “They simply don’t consider the risk,” said Huntsville Pub-
lic Safety Director Rex Reynolds. Alpert said the biggest myth isthatifpolicedon’thaveachase policy, everyone is going to run. Anothermistakenidea,hesaid, is that people run because “there’s a dead body in every trunk.” Phillips said he doubts anyone contemplating a speeding getaway is “sitting on the fence” waiting to see whether a department has a strong pursuit policy. Andrew Clarke, a Memphis lawyer involved in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case in a policepursuitchallenge,saidpoliceshouldshowrestraintbefore starting pursuit. In 2001, Victor Harris, then 19, became a quadriplegic in a wreck caused by a Georgia deputy’s ramming Harris’ fleeingcar.Thecourtsupportedlaw enforcement’s argument that running a fleeing motorist off theroadwascertaintoeliminate the risk to the public. The job of law enforcement in pursuits, said Clarke, is to “protect the public depending on the severity of the crime that precipitated the chase.” Officers sometimes get “tunnel vision” when making the split-seconddecisionwhetherto pursue, he said. “Their decision-making processistoughwhenfilledwith that much adrenaline and contempt for the person fleeing,” Clarkesaid.“Manytimes,theinnocent parties’ safety is not the primary consideration.”
Huntsville police in pursuit
A sharp increase in recent years
Continued from page A7 reened through five serpentine barriers. ••••• Public Safety Director Rex Reynolds said Huntsville’s policy allows judgment calls in the field and that, despite the high speedsandthedeathofaNASA engineer, officers were within policy during the chase. Reynoldssaidinaninterview Thursday that he and Police Chief Henry Reyes are “both very comfortable with our pursuit policy. ... You cannot write a policy that can ever take away anofficer’s discretion.That’s just a vital part of law enforcement.” Four Huntsville police pursuitsoutof294since2003have been found to be “out of policy,” according to police documents obtained by The Times. JohnHarrisPhillips,director of the watchdog site PursuitWatch.org, said officers often havetherightintentionsbutcan lose sight of their No. 1 goal – keeping the public safe – when in hot pursuit of a “bad guy.” Phillips questions the need for pursuits if police have the suspect’s tag number or identity, especially if the suspect is unlikelytobeanimminentdanger. “Ithinkalotoftimesthenegative perception is, if we don’t pursue, the bad guys get away. That’s notthecase,” saidPhillips, whose organization does extensive research into pursuit policies and incidents. If, as in this case, the pursuit began because of a street-level drugdealandthepolicehadthe
A dramatic uptick in pursuits in 2006 and 2007 can be attributed to an increased focus on traffic enforcement, a priority for the department after Alabama s traffic fatalities increased 5 percent from 2005 to 2006, Police Chief Henry Reyes said. 98
Pursuing officer: “We’ve got a woman running, Patton and “You cannot write a Foster, northbound on Patton.” Huntsville dispatch: “STAC policy that can ever 11,Iwastakingaphonecall;109 your 10-20 (Repeat your lotake away an officer’s cation). You’re southbound discretion. That’s just a where?” officer: “Heading Pursuing northbound on Patton, Alpha vital part of law tag number forty-seven yankee four four four tango on a white enforcement.” Pontiac Bonneville.” (Radio logs show that disRex Reynolds patchers and officers gave out Director of public safety the car’s description – a white vehicle’s tag number, Phillips PontiacBonneville–andlicense said, “the pursuit should never plate number twice before it have taken place.” reached Memorial Parkway, But Reynolds said the dy- and again seconds later.) namic of the chase changed when suspect Valorie Cox side••••• swipedacaronMemorialParkway near the old Ramada Inn. The chase started with what Cox went from being a sus- appeared to be a drug deal in a pected drug offender to a neighborhoodoffDrakeAvenue woman who had committed a and Patton Road at the tail end felony in front of officers, of a Friday lunch hour. Reynolds said. Leaving the Drug agents with the Stratescene of an accident with in- gic Counterdrug Team, or juries–thesideswipedcar’s driv- STAC, a multiagency task force er complained of neck pain – is operating under Huntsville Poa Class C felony punishable by lice Department policies, spota year and a day to 10 years in ted Cox and her passenger, 36prison. year-old Paulette Woodall, “The pursuit on Drake Av- seemingly selling or buying enue–thespeedswerenotout- drugs. rageous,” Reynolds said. “It was Accordingtoanaffidavitfiled recorded at 55 mph on a four- in federal court in support of charges against Cox, STAC agents stopped the women’s Bonneville on Foster Drive. The car took off as officers apThe police department’s policy notes at least eight factors that proached. influence whether a supervisor would call off a pursuit: 1. whether the decision to pursue creates more danger to the The women began to stop public than the need for immediate apprehension again in the area of Drake Av2. the performance capabilities of the police vehicle and driver enue and Penny Street but fled 3. the seriousness of the perceived emergency before officers could speak to 4. roadway conditions, either structural or weather-related them. 5. pedestrian traffic 6. speed, as well as how erratically the suspect is driving Officers followed the Bon7. direction of traffic flow and traffic volume neville east on Drake Avenue 8. whether or not the person being pursued can be identified and south on Memorial Parkand apprehended at a later time, and whether the continuance of way. a pursuit creates a greater danger to the public than the need for On top of the overpass north immediate apprehension ofAirportRoad,theBonneville
1:02:05 p.m. Chase begins
Because the department s pursuit policy was not clear on when a pursuit had to be reported 64 to the administration, officers were only 48 submitting pursuit 38 reports when the chase resulted in 18 property damage or injury, Reyes said. 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 The policy was In 2008 there were 28 pursuits from , clarified in 2006. January through May.
The results of pursuit crashes
2003 3 x 1 0 1 0 0
Damaged polic e vehicles Injured officer Injured suspect Injured passenger Injured bystander Suspect deaths
2004 7 x 2 0 0 0 0
2005 4x .. 0 8 0 0 1*
2006 11 x 1 5 0 0 0
2007 9 x 5 3 1 1 2
Huntsville dispatch: “Hey, this is HPD.” Redstone Arsenal dispatch: “Hello, HPD.” Huntsville dispatch: “How are you?” Redstone Arsenal dispatch: “Oh, just having a lovely day, how about you?” Huntsville dispatch: “Well, we’ve got a pursuit going on that’s heading toward the arsenal.” Redstone Arsenal dispatch: “Uh-oh, OK. What gives?” •••••
1:07:58 p.m. Huntsville police dispatch calls Redstone authorities
* A passenger in a fleeing vehicle died in a crash after the pursuit was terminated. The driver and another passenger were injured and included in the suspect column above because all three passengers were suspected of being involved in a drug deal.
Reasons given by police for pursuing
Traffic violation Felony suspect Call for service Assisting another officer 2003 47% 47% 5% 0 2004 46% 42% 12% 0
2005 50% 33%* 17% 0
2006 45% 39% 11% 5%
2007 63% 23% 13% 0
*According to a pursuit analysis, these pursuits were for people suspected of involvement in any crime.
2003 2004 Max. mph attained 115 115 Avg. mph in pursui t* 72 72 Greatest mph above 115 in 108 in the posted limit a 50** a 40 Number of pursuits 5 11 40 mph above limit
* Average speed in high-speed pursuit. ** This officer was disciplined. Source: Huntsville Police Department
The speed factor
2005 120 72 120 in a 40 5
2006 130 70 108 in a 40 8
2007 102 N/A 100 in a 45 27
Dispatchershadlessthantwo minutes to relay the pursuit information to Redstone Arsenal from the moment the BonnevilleweavedtowardtheMartin Road exit to the time it reached Gate 1. Reyes and Reynolds have said from the beginning that communicationbetweenagenciesisproblematic,andthatthe lag caused by dispatchers having to phone one another can cost officers valuable seconds. “We’ve been very honest that they just did not have time to react,” Reynolds said. “Clearly, communications was an issue in this case.” •••••
The Huntsville Time s
sideswipedatanBuickLaSabre “with enough force that pursuing officers thought the chase was over,” FBI agent Curtis G. Parker wrote in the affidavit. But Cox and Woodall didn’t slow down. Reynolds said speeds approached 70 mph as Cox sped down the Parkway, weaving in and out of traffic and dodging people returning to work after lunch. TheaffidavitsaidCoxjumped the median at Golf Road and
veered onto the Martin Road exit,headingwesttowardthearsenal’s Gate 1. Officers began laying tirepuncturing stop sticks on the eastbound lanes of Martin Road,thinkingthedriverwould panic at the sight of the flashing lights, barriers and guards ••••• at the Redstone Arsenal gate. The time it took for Cox and Immediately after the crash, Woodall to travel from Drake Redstone and Huntsville offiAvenue and Patton Road to the cials admitted that communiMartinRoadexit:4minutes,46 seconds. Please see DEADLY on A7
Huntsville dispatch to Redstonedispatch:“We’vegotapursuit going on that’s heading toward the arsenal.” PursuingofficertoHuntsville dispatch, also at 1:08:06 p.m.: “Going through the gate at Redstone,runningthroughthe gate at Redstone.” Huntsville dispatch: “10-4, units copy: She’s went through the gate at Redstone.”
1:08:06 p.m. Bonneville breaches gate
The Huntsville Times, Sunday, July 27, 2008 A7
National expert says departments need mandatory classes
Officer pursuit training costly, time-consuming
Reynolds. A driving session, unlike regular firearms training, poses huge staffing demands because it’s more of a oneon-oneexercise,Reynoldssaid.Hesaid the department has applied for a $1 million grant for driving simulators that could improve driver training while saving time. Many departments offer pursuit training in their police academies but nofollow-upclasses,saysanationalpolice precision-driving expert, Capt. Travis Yates. Yates, a 15-year veteran with the Tulsa Police Department, said that lapse leaves officers frustrated by armchairquarterbackingwhenpursuitsgo wrong. “I would hope that progressive police departments do not wait for a Supreme Court case or a tragedy to do what’s right,” Yates told The Times. “What is right is a clear, sound policy and mandatory training.” Speedsinsomechasesdemandabilities few cadets can bring to academy classes. The maximum speed in a Huntsville police chase in the last five years was 130 mph, and the average was just over 70 mph from 2003 to 2006. Yates said driving is viewed as an everyday skill, unlike firearms and arrest procedures, which are specific to the profession. “By far the most dangerousthingwedoinlawenforcement is the things we do inside the vehicle. “In 2007, 49 percent of officer deaths were vehicle-related. Vehiclerelated incidents have been the highest form of litigation,” he said. The training should include lessons that can help officers make good splitsecond decisions on whether to begin a chase, he said. Afteraninitialcourseonemergency driving at the police academy, the
Times Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
By JOHN PECK
Giving police officers more pursuit training is needed, but it comes at a price. “You have to realize whenever we pull that officer out of the field, it’s a staffing issue for us. We’re impacting our numbers on the street,” said Huntsville Public Safety Director Rex
Huntsville Police Department conducts driver retraining every three or four years. The academy session is a one-weekcoursetohelptheofficerbetter understand a patrol car’s capabilities and learn safe driving through intersections. Supervisors also scrutinize the drivingrecordandincidentfilesofeach officertolookforpatterns.PoliceChief HenryReyessaidthereviewsrevealbehavior patterns that suggest the need for intervention.
Continued from page A6
cation between the two could have been better. OnFriday,Redstonereleased details of a report that says the arsenalwantstobeinformedof any police pursuits in Madison County. ReynoldssaidHuntsvillepolice have donated some of their 800-megahertzradiostothearsenal so its 911 center will know when Huntsville police officers are approaching their gates. Atthetimeofthecrash,when Huntsville police needed to talktoRedstoneofficialsduring a pursuit, dispatchers with the Huntsville/MadisonCounty911 center had to call dispatchers with the 911 Redstone center. A mutual-aid agreement between local law enforcement agencies and the Army allows them to enter federal property, but Redstone authorities have carefully scrutinized the police department’s actions and have since made changes in their security. The Army has added concrete barriers at each gate and will install tire shredders until scheduled security upgrades are completed, Maj. Gen. Jim Myles said Friday. The upgrades include fortified booths, improved traffic lanes and net barrier systems, along with the removal of trees and other obstacles that block the guards’ vision at the gate. Most of these improvements hadbeenintheworksbeforethe crash. In an effort to improve communication with the arsenal and each other, all the public safety agencies in Madison County have agreed to spend $25 million on a system that wouldallowthemtooperateon the same radio frequency. The move would allow the agencies to speak directly without an intermediary. •••••
The Huntsville Police Department’s pursuit policy calls for only two participating vehicles, a primary unit and a secondary unit, whose responsibilityistorelaylocations,speeds and suspect information. More than two units may pursue with a supervisor’s permission, according to policy. In
the May 30 pursuit, at least two unmarkedunitsandseveralpatrol units joined the chase, the tapes indicate. An unidentified STAC supervisor monitored the pursuit but is not heard on the audio authorizing additional units. The audio recordings show only one speed – 55 mph on Drake Avenue – was relayed to dispatchers and the supervisor monitoring the chase. “You take that supervisor and you separate him from all the adrenaline, and he makes thedecisionbasedonpolicyand what he knows about the pursuit,” Reynolds said. Reynolds did note that chases that are within policy are reviewed and lessons can be learned.Supervisorsreviewthe judgmentcallsmadebyofficers and provide feedback on maneuversordecisionstheybelieve were unwise or inappropriate. “They could still take an officer and say, ‘90 miles per hour wasn’t a safe speed in this pursuit,’ ” Reynolds said. Eric Schultz/Huntsville Times Less than two minutes after Police and ambulance crews work the scene where a woman was sideswiped during a police chase May 30. the Bonneville breached the gate, a south precinct superviditions. ••••• sortoldhisofficerstostayoffthe She is set to appear in court base. Exactly8minutesand47secAug. 14 for the charge of pos“They should have enough session of drug paraphernalia onds after the first dispatch call folks on the arsenal already,” he filed after the arsenal crash. on record, a STAC agent ansaid. HEMSI paramedics found a nounced the wreck that killed The time it took the women crack pipe in her possession Spurlock, a Marshall Space to go from Gate 1 to Rideout while treating her for injuries Flight Center engineer. Road: about 2 minutes 46 secSTAC agents never had the sustained during the wreck. onds,accordingtotheaudioreCox pleaded not guilty to the opportunity to tell the disleasedbythe911center.ThedismurderchargeThursdaybefore patcherwhethertheyhadidentance between the two points: Magistrate Judge Paul W. tified the women before the 4.4 miles, according to Google Greene. Her attorney, J. Brice crash. Officers had a tag numMaps measurements. Callaway, said she is “remorse- ber, but in the heat of the purThe average speed the Bonful and sorry” for Darren Spur- suit, no names or other inforneville would have traveled to mation that would identify the lock’s death. cover that distance so quickly: “The level of her criminal re- women were dispatched to the 95 mph. sponsibility is yet to be deter- officers. ThefleeingwhiteBonneville, mined,” CallawaysaidThursday. ••••• driven by Cox, slammed into “That will have to be sorted out Michael Mercier/Huntsville Times Spurlock’s black Toyota Camry by the courts.” 1:10:40 p.m. Redstone Arsenal’s Mack Wood moves part of a barrier system after glancing off another vehiThefederalaffidavitsaidCox Seconds before the crash at Gate 1 on Martin Road. Authorities added more concrete barmade“spontaneousstatements cle, records show. PursuingofficertoHuntsville riers after the gate was breached during a police chase. An FBI agent’s affidavit says on the scene to police officers ... dispatch: “Known offenders?” Cox was going an estimated 73 that she had been smoking Huntsville dispatch: “STAC later indicted on a federal sec- forcement officers and possesmphwhenshestruckSpurlock’s crack all day.” sion of marijuana. ond-degree murder charge. 11, are they known offenders?” Camry,whichwasgoing15mph Shehascourtdatesscheduled Apreliminaryhearingforthe through the intersection of ••••• charge of driving with a sus- for Aug. 4 and Sept. 22 for pos••••• Martin and Rideout roads. pended license is set for 2 p.m. sessing and receiving a conThe Bonneville swerved and trolled substance and theft of 1:10:52 p.m. Officerssaidthepursuitstart- Wednesday. hit another vehicle and injured Bonneville crashes Court records show that property. ed because of a possible drug LeonandKathleenLundy,ages Woodall has appeared in Huntsville police have had nuPursuingofficer:“10-50(traf- 62 and 64. They were treated deal, but no drug charges have been filed against the women. merous run-ins with Cox and court just as often, pleading fic accident). Rideout ... Ride- and released from Huntsville guiltytonegotiatingaworthless out.” Woodall was charged with Woodall. Hospital, HEMSI Chief OperAccording to court docu- instrument and possession of a Officer at the scene, three ations Officer Don Webster possession of drug paraphernalia; Cox was charged with ments, Cox has pleaded guilty forged instrument. She has minutes later: “We’ll need a said. drivingwithasuspendedlicense to three property-theft charges, beenchargedwithseveralother Frank unit (traffic fatality unit). It took officers only three and leaving the scene of an ac- twoassaultcharges,andcharges crimes, but those charges were We’ll need everybody there.” minutestorealizethatSpurlock, 39, was dead. cident with injuries. She was ofgivingafalsenametolaw-en- dismissed on unspecified con-
DA’s book helps parents discuss sex abuse with kids
Only one in 10 children ever reports the crime
in their homes. “When children are sexually abused, they don’t tell anyone, and a lot of people don’t appreciate that. They think ‘Oh, if it’s my child, they would speak up,’ ” Starishevsky said. But there are few outlets for parents to help facilitate discussion of the subject. Most books are geared toward older children and deal with a specific example of abuse, or they are clinical texts. “Pedophiles, child predators, they arm themselves. They know what our kids like,” she said. “We’re going out there fighting a war naked. We’re not even telling our kids what they need to hear. Of course the problem is not going away; we’re not even talking about it.” Starishevsky’s book is a 22line rhyme geared toward children ages 3 to 8 that tells the story of a child who is molested by an uncle’s friend and tells a parent. Illustrations show an androgynous child, so it will appeal to both boys and girls, she said. Sheshoppedtheideaaround and got a warm reception. Several publishing houses were interested, but they all wanted
to tell someone,’ or someone needs to do something,” Starishevsky said. “All Oprah had to do was say ‘Tell a teacher,’ and this horrible abuse stopped.” By COLLEEN LONG Starishevsky,amotheroftwo The Associated Press children herself, decided she NEW YORK – Prosecutor was going to write a children’s Jill Starishevsky was working book to help parents and kids on the case of a little girl who deal with sexual abuse. The rehad been consistently raped by sult, “My Body,” is in the process her stepfather when she got an of being published and should idea of how she could help fam- be in stores by the end of the year.Starishevsky ilies prevent such has a waiting list horrific acts. already on her Thegirl,froma On the Net Web site. middle-class • www.howsmynanChild sex home in the ny.com/mybodybook/ abuse is a bigger Bronx, was mo• www.stopthesiproblem than lence.org/ lested starting at most parents age 6, and like would like to mostchildrenshe didn’ttellanyone.Thenshesaw think. At least 60 million peoan episode of “The Oprah Win- ple claim they were molested as frey Show” that happened to be children,butonlyonein10chilon children who were beaten. dren ever reports the crime, acThe message at the end of the cording to national statistics show was simple: If you’re compiled by the advocacy being abused, tell a parent or a group Stop the Silence. Starishevsky sees it firstteacher. The girl, who by then was 9 hand.Asanassistantdistrictatyears old, told her teacher the torney in the Bronx, she works in the Child Abuse and Sex next day. “I thought, either Oprah Crimes Bureau and says parneeds to end every show with ents are usually shocked they ‘If you’re being hurt, you need didn’t know what was going on
The Associated Press
Jill Starishevsky, a prosecutor with the Bronx District Attorney's office, poses on the steps of the Bronx Supreme Court in New York on June 23.
her to drop one line in the book – the line where the child in the story is actually abused. The reason? The book would be too hard to market to parents. “They wanted to just take it out. Take it out? If I take it out, why am I writing it?” Starishevsky said. She decided to publish the book as is, by herself. Advocacy groups around the country say it will be an important tool
for parents, and one organization in Los Angeles is reading the text to students. Other groups offered to finance the book for her. Pamela Pine, director of Stop the Silence, said “My Body” fills a need because it’s geared toward young children, and on average abuse of children starts at age 7. “If parents are brave enough, hopefully this will catalyze a re-
sponsetohavethisconversation with young kids,” Pine said. “The challenge is going to be that most adults have a problem with this issue.” As for the 9-year-old, her caseproceededquicklyaftershe reported the abuse. Starishevsky prosecuted the stepfather, the child and her teacher took the stand, and the man was convicted and jailed.
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