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How does local law enforcement keep the public safe during a high-speed police chase?

Posted at 6:07 PM, Feb 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-24 19:57:27-05

CINCINNATI — A man ended up in the hospital after leading Ohio State Highway Patrol officers on a 120 mph chase that led from I-275 to East Kemper Road, raising questions as to how safe drivers and communities can be during police chases at such high speeds.

"A patrol sergeant from the Batavia Highway Post attempted to make a traffic stop on a vehicle that was checked on 275 Northbound in Union Township at 101 miles per hour," said Sgt. Charles Jordan, with the Ohio Highway State Patrol.

When the trooper tried to initiate a traffic stop, the driver fled, reaching speeds of at least 120 mph, Jordan said. A pursuit ensued; the driver then got off the interstate onto Loveland Madeira Road and continued driving at 80 mph on East Kemper Road.

The OSHP has a policy for high-speed chases, which takes into account traffic and road conditions. The chase Monday morning took place at 5:30 a.m., just before morning rush hour, and OSHP troopers said that fact was top of mind.

"In this case, it is 5:30 in the morning, so traffic is very light," said Jordan. "Those are things that we are going to constantly evaluate. What is the traffic volume? What is the area we are in?"

Officials said a trooper in a pursuit is always in contact with a supervisor, who helps to coordinate and determine if a chase needs to be ended.

"Obviously, some considerations would have come into play if this had continued into the city of Loveland," said Jordan. "So those are definitely things that we look at on whether or not to continue the pursuit."

But not all law enforcement agencies have the same policy. In 2017, the WCPO I-Team found that guidelines for high-speed pursuit of suspects can be broad and inconsistent across different jurisdictions.

Last May, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine appointed an advisory board to create a standard policy that law enforcement agencies can voluntarily adopt.

"It's very vital that we figure out what we are going to do as a state," said State Representative Juanita Brent. "What is going to be the universal standard for a police chase. Because this could have been a deadly situation, and thankfully it wasn't."

Brent is a member of the Governor's advisory board, which recently finished drafting new vehicular pursuit standards in December. Karen Huey, chair of the Ohio Collaborative, said they hope all law enforcement agencies will adopt these guidelines and update their policies.

The standards drafted include a list of standards the Ohio Collaborative believe law enforcement agencies should establish as criteria before engaging in a vehicle pursuit.

Some of these standards include:

  • The law enforcement agency's definition of a vehicle pursuit
  • What circumstances must be evaluated before engaging (seriousness of the alleged offense, conditions of the road, location of the pursuit, time of day and weather conditions)
  • Responsibilities of the initiating unit and secondary units
  • Establish telecommunication protocols addressing responsibilities
  • A provision that prohibits or discourages pursuits when the suspect is known to the officers or easily identifiable, unless the officers have probable cause to believe the suspect's escape poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to officers or others