Concerns raised about updated FHP chase policy following I-95 crash

Some are concerned that the Florida Highway Patrol's (FHP) updated chase policy could lead to more deaths and injuries following the deadly crash on Interstate 95 in Port Saint Lucie. A state trooper and truck driver were killed in the crash. 

On Monday, the family of Florida State Trooper Zachary Fink laid him to rest. Meanwhile, the daughter of semi-truck driver Arsenio Mas is trying to figure out how to get from Cuba to Florida to say her final goodbyes.  

"I don't know when I will see my father," said Yeisel Más Dominguez, the daughter of Arsenio Mas.

FHP says Trooper Fink was chasing a suspect who was accused of driving recklessly. The driver made a U-turn on the interstate. Fink followed and crashed into Mas' semi-truck. However, some believe their deaths could have been prevented. 

"Easily prevented based upon training of government policy, based upon accountability, based upon 21st Century Policing Model where we look at the sanctity of life," said Thomas Gleason. 

Thomas Gleason has 30 years in law enforcement, conducting chases, teaching chase safety, and reviewing policy. He also knows loss. Gleason's son died during a chase while on duty as a military officer. 

"It's about people's lives, and I know that all too well," said Gleason. 

FHP updated its pursuit policy in December. One change allows troopers to drive on the opposite side of the road if they believe imminent danger exists. 

Gleason says this recent deadly crash calls for another look at the safety of the updated policy. 

"We need to be constantly reviewing the way that we're doing things and see if that's working to best serve our communities," said Gleason. 

The Truck Safety Coalition, out of Washington, D.C., works to make roads safer by looking at policies impacting drivers. 

Leaders say it's too soon in this investigation to speak about FHP's chase policy but say safety should always be considered because the job is dangerous. 

"Anything that can be done to reduce truck crash deaths and injuries are solutions we think should be considered," said Zach Cahalan, Executive Director.


Especially in Florida. The agency says the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ranks Florida third in the nation for deadly truck crashes. There were 373 recorded in 2021 - which leaders say shows a 96% increase in 7 years. 

FOX 35 News asked the Florida Highway Patrol if it's reviewing the policy or planning to change the policy following Fink and Mas' deaths. 

In a statement, Director Dave Kerner said: 

"State Troopers are highly trained law enforcement officers, with an emphasis on vehicle operations and pursuit tactics. Their initial and ongoing training goes above and beyond the state of Florida/CJSTC curriculum requirements. We trust our Troopers to make difficult decisions under the most demanding conditions, and we empower them through our policies to make those decisions using their best judgment. Law enforcement is a very dangerous profession, and our number one priority is making sure every Trooper returns home safely after every shift. Unfortunately, the realities of the profession make that an impossible objective. Putting bad people in jail comes with inherent risks and dangers, but the Florida Highway Patrol remains infallible in our commitment to public safety. "

However, Gleason argues the best training for troopers doesn't account for what others may do on the road.

"So even if you have the trooper, he's the best there is; he could go to NASCAR and race," said Gleason, "You're dealing with people who don't have the skills." 

He says public safety means utilizing every tool law enforcement has – not only chasing suspects. 

"Now we have cameras. We have the ability to see the driver. We have the ability to see the tag," said Gleason, "Would rather apprehend at a later date than cause injuries or deaths to a person in the state of Florida." 

FOX 35 also asked if FHP offers additional training to troopers and dispatch based on the updated policy. We are still waiting to hear back.