Subject of Chesterfield police chase gets away

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A morning police chase that began in Chesterfield crossed into Richmond where officers had to make a quick and difficult decision.

It was 8:00 a.m. Chesterfield police had their eyes on a suspected lawbreaker. But police say the driver would not pull over.

What happened next was a chase, according to a spokesperson, that touched Hull Street and several other roadways. What began on Turner Road went all the way to Interstate 95 in Richmond, where the officers decided to let the person go. The decision was based, in part, on the rush hour traffic.

Police pursuits, lately, are sensitive issues. In April, a beloved pastor was killed following a chase through Church Hill. Several kids suffered minor injuries following a separate chase in Petersburg.

Critics say chases should be stopped. A leading expert says doing so, won't encourage more people to flee.

"It's a myth. The people who are going to flee will probably flee no matter what the police do," said Professor Geoffrey Alpert, a leading expert on police pursuits, from the University of South Carolina.

Another myth, according to Alpert, is that everyone who's being chased has a major reason to run. In today's case, the driver was suspected of having expired tags, not a major crime. So police must consider several questions, every time.

"What's going to happen if the person escapes? Is it going to be a public threat? In other words...has he or she committed a really serious crime for which I need to put people's lives at risk? Or is it simply someone who's not stopping for me, and yeah my ego is bruised, but I'm not going to put my family at risk, or the family of my neighbors," Alpert said.

While the subject of this morning's chase got away, it's not exactly an unprecedented moment. A police spokesperson said chases are called-off far more frequently than most people realize.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.