Bill Would Make it a Crime to Flee Unmarked Police Vehicles

ANNAPOLISMD - Some police departments are calling it a loophole in the law by allowing people to lawfully flee and elude an unmarked police car.

"Ultimately, the statue is unclear as to whether someone has to stop for an unmarked vehicle and whether someone can be charged with fleeing and eluding," says Sen. Chris Shank, (R) - Washington County.

Shank's bill would clarify as long as an unmarked car has lights and sirens on, a person must pull over. It also allows police to file charges, but that's not all the bill does.

"It also provides a measure of constituent protection and says in law for the first time that if somebody feels uncomfortable with an unmarked car that they they're being chased by that they have the right to pull over at a police station or a well-lit area," Shank says.

Those at the Frederick City Police Department say they've had a few incidents in the past of people not stopping for officers in unmarked cars. They feel the bill could help them keep the streets of Frederick safer.

"I believe the bill is going to assist with closing the gap that's occurring in the law right now by not allowing somebody to flee and elude from an unmarked car," says Cpt. Patrick Grossman, with the Frederick City Police Department.  

Grossman says officers in unmarked cars often have to call marked cars in for back up.

"You're not readily identifiable, so at times people would not see us right away when we initiate a traffic stop or hear the audible signal and think it's coming from a different direction," Grossman says.

In 2011, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled a driver could not be charged for fleeing a law enforcement officer in an unmarked car.

"Police chases are very inherently dangerous to the public, and you want to make sure that the statue reflects the fact that it is treated seriously," Shank says.  

Shank's bill passed unanimously in the Maryland Senate and now heads to the Maryland House of Delegates.

You can read the bill by clicking here.

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