Police officers have a solemn duty to protect the public through their words and actions. This means not only tracking down and capturing criminals, but also doing it in a way that does not endanger innocent lives. Police work can be dangerous; it's important that that danger is not allowed to escalate or spill over onto bystanders.
This is of particular concern when it comes to high speed driving. When a police officer responds to an emergency call, they turn on their lights and sirens, which has the additional effect of turning traffic lights on their route to green. While this can ease the traffic snarl-ups and improve response times, the cruiser's high speed still necessitates a great deal of care from the officer to ensure the safety of the public.
These factors may have played a role in a fatal accident earlier this month which claimed the lives of six people. The car accident occurred in the early morning hours near Columbus, Ohio. A police officer was responding to a call about an armed robbery. The officer was alone in his cruiser traveling at high speed with lights and sirens activated as he entered a busy intersection. Unfortunately, one car was still in the intersection as he entered it.
The car was carrying a family of six: a mother, father and four daughters, all of whom were refugees from the Iraq war. All six were killed in the collision, apparently instantly.
There is a great deal that we still do now know about this collision, such as who had the right-of-way and who had a red or yellow light as they entered the intersection. Police say they are investigating, and hope to have answers soon.
Reuters, "Ohio family of six dies in collision with police car" Kim Palmer, Oct. 18, 2013