Local sheriffs discuss law enforcement chase policy, tactics

Local sheriffs discuss law enforcement chase policy, tactics

TRI-STATE (WFIE) - We have reported on several law enforcement chases in the past year.

So how do authorities in the Tri-state make that call whether or not to go after a suspect?

14 News talked to two Tri-State sheriffs from separate states who have worked in law enforcement for decades. They both agree it is not an easy decision.

Several factors must to be taken into consideration such as what the driver is wanted for and what would, or could happen if they call it off.

In less than a month, Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office deputies chased three drivers. Each of the pursuits ended in a crash. One of them was deadly.

“We work diligently to try to keep it as safe as we can, but at the same time, we’re not going to develop a policy where we would never pursue somebody,” explains Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding.

Sheriff Wedding says department leaders closely monitor every pursuit, including where deputies are, road conditions, speed, and length of pursuit.

“Generally, if we think that the pursuit is going too long and getting in congested areas of the community, we generally break them off,” Sheriff Wedding says.

One critical question: is the risk worth the reward of a capture?

In late November, a chase crossed over into Henderson, Kentucky. Deputies say 23-year-old Christopher Norman, who was wanted on outstanding warrants, was behind the wheel.

He was arrested after deputies say he used his vehicle to ram a deputy’s cruiser.

Henderson County Sheriff Ed Brady says despite personally being pro-pursuit, the department has restricted its pursuit policy.

“What is the value of your family’s life," askes Sheriff Brady. "Put it in personal terms versus catching this guy. If you put it in those terms you really do start thinking: this guy, if he blows this stoplight and runs into this car and it’s my family, was catching him worth potentially hurt them or killing them?”

But that doesn’t mean they won’t.

“If it’s a person that’s going to a factory and says he’s going to set a factory on fire and kill a bunch of people, you’ll chase a lot harder than somebody you have a warrant for - for writing bad checks,” explains Sheriff Brady.

Each of their chases are recorded on video, reviewed, and critiqued. Sheriff Brady wants his deputies to be more cautious and keep the community in mind.

Although, he says at times there is responsibility if they fail to act.

“Well, you could’ve stopped this guy before he got where he was going and maybe saved somebody’s life, but you chose not to chase,” Sheriff Brady explains. “So, sometimes, failure to act can be as serious as something going wrong if you do act.”

Sheriff Wedding also says he would like to see steeper punishments for those running from law enforcement. Right now, most fall into a level six felony.

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