L.A. was treated to three dramatic police chases in three days this week, including one that appeared to attract money-grabbers who realized from television coverage that cash was being thrown out of an alleged bank-robbery getaway car.

The union that represents LAPD officers isn't too happy with that coverage, wondering aloud this week if news folks put the public in danger to boost their own viewership.

According to the L.A. Police Protective League

… yesterday's coverage of an L.A. County Sheriff's Department chase of bank robbery suspects through the street south of USC was irresponsible because people might have realized via TV that cash was being thrown out of the vehicle, drawing them to the streets and thus into a dangerous situation.

Extra LAPD officers were called to the scene for crowd control and at least two people sustained minor injuries in the chaos. News footage depicted people lunging for the SUV, ostensibly for the cash that might have been left, after officers finally had it stopped.

Says the LAPPL:

As commentators breathlessly announced the locations of the pursuit, citizens poured from their houses to watch the spectacle. The armed robbers threw cash out of the car during the chase, resulting in people dashing into the streets to collect the money and hundreds of people converging on the vehicle at the end of the pursuit. The coverage added to the chaos, which resulted in needless additional risk to the Los Angeles County deputies, Los Angeles police officers and the public, in what was already a dangerous situation.

Live television coverage of the chase only exacerbated the situation, as people watching were alerted to the direction of the pursuit and flocked out of their homes to gawk or grab some of the discarded money. Pursuing sheriff and LAPD units then had to contend with people in the street as well as the criminals they were chasing. The media coverage was similar to that of a sporting event.

Likewise, the union says, people could have done without live, helicopter-based coverage of a pursuit of a murder suspect west of downtown Tuesday.

A shootout with police was nearly broadcast live: By the time the chase ended the news programs covering it had gone off-air, but many showed the imagery later and posted video on their sites.

The union:

On Tuesday, live television coverage of an LAPD pursuit of a murder and carjacking suspect nearly resulted in the viewing public being “treated” to the sight of that criminal attempting to kill police officers, and then falling to the ground after being struck by return fire. What exactly is the value to the public, more importantly our young people, to witness this event live and in high definition?

The LAPPL wants to see less live coverage and more after-the-fact analysis, saying that getting the “money shot” isn't worth the danger to cops and public.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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