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Posted at 2:04 p.m. PST Thursday, January 21, 1999

L.A. cop capitalizes on love of police chases

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -- An enterprising policeman has come up with a way to make money off the police chases that city residents relish as a favorite spectator sport, a report said Thursday.

Los Angeles police Sgt. Ken Kuwahara has started PursuitWatch, a pager service that beeps its customers whenever a high-speed chase comes on the local television stations, the Orange County Register reported Thursday.

Subscribers pay 99 cents per year to keep tabs on the pursuits, which have become a staple of local television news. Kuwahara told the Register he has already signed up 200 subscribers.

Kuwahara also offers a $9.99 three-month membership that makes participants eligible for a $100 bounty if they are the first to report a chase in progress.

Police pursuits attract so many viewers in Los Angeles that local stations will interrupt scheduled programs to follow them to their conclusion, which almost always involves the suspect's arrest.

The phenomenon went worldwide on June 17, 1994, when former football star O.J. Simpson led police on a slow-speed chase across Southern California in his white Ford Bronco before surrendering in the driveway of his Brentwood mansion.

Simpson was eventually acquitted of murder charges in the stabbing death of his ex-wife and her friend in the so-called ''Trial of the Century.'' A civil court jury later found him liable for their deaths.

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