ALBERTA
08/05/2014 02:01 EDT | Updated 10/05/2014 05:59 EDT

Edmonton police put brakes on chasing cars with GPS following death of woman

EDMONTON - A judge in a fatality inquiry says police in Edmonton have made sufficient policy changes for chasing vehicles equipped with GPS tracking devices.

Colleen Joan Cappo was a passenger in a stolen car being pursued by police on Feb. 16, 2009.

Police called off the chase when it became dangerous, but seconds later the speeding car collided with another vehicle and crashed into a tree. The 31-year-old woman died in hospital.

Judge Raymond Bodnarek said in his inquiry report released Tuesday that officers broke some rules during the chase. An officer in a second cruiser followed the stolen car six extra blocks and police vehicles didn't have their sirens on continuously.

But the judge ruled that those mistakes are not likely to have contribute to the crash.

What may have changed the outcome, he said, was the stolen car's satellite GPS system. The car was being tracked when it crashed, so it wasn't necessary for police to be chasing it.

The force changed its policy in 2010 and officers no longer chase a vehicle equipped with GPS — as long as police are able to establish communication with a device's provider.

"Under the new policy, a CFR (criminal flight response) in circumstances of this case would be prohibited," Bodnarek wrote.

The judge said officers have received proper notice and training on the new policy. He made no recommendations for further changes.

Edmonton police have "demonstrated that they are responsive to adapting their CFR policy to keep pace with emerging technologies and changing circumstances," he said.

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