Dulle heard the story from neighbors. “He took off on Natural Bridge Road, weaving in and out of traffic, at speeds they said exceeded 80 miles an hour in a 35 mile an hour zone,” he said. “I just don’t know how police go about chasing a guy who just has no regard for his safety or the safety of others.”
They can’t, says Chief Tim Fitch. And much of the public didn’t really comprehend why. “I could not go to a public meeting in the last year and a half without some citizen asking me about the number of car break ins we had in our community, or the number of copper thefts. Then it would proceed from there, and I would explain that even if we got behind these individuals at the scene, we were not allowed to pursue them.”
The only way his officers can currently chase someone is if they’ve used or threatened to use deadly force. After hearing the public’s frustration, Fitch wondered if the policy needed updating. So he asked researchers at the University of Missouri St. Louis to survey county residents. The survey showed people want to give officers more leeway. The chief now proposes allowing officers to chase suspects accused of burglary in the first degree, which means, for example, they broke into a home while it was occupied. He also proposes allowing officers to pursue DUI suspects, as long as they’re not going too fast.
Note: PDI has long been a fan of Chief Tim Fitch. He was instrumental in restricting the pursuit policy when it was needed and here he is again showing leadership in listening to the concerns of his community. Chief Fitch continues to show that he cares about this issue and remains an active presence in developing sound policy along with a common sense approach.