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BOARDMAN New chase policy invoked



Published: Fri, July 20, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



An officer said police have information about the vehicle and the driver.

By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

BOARDMAN -- A new policy on high-speed chases came into play this week when police decided to call off a chase after speeds got to be excessive.

According to police reports, a Youngstown man parked a National Fire Repair company van in the parking lot of Perkins Restaurant on Boardman-Poland Road early Wednesday evening. When the man and a friend returned to the van, they saw another man leaning in the passenger door.

Noticing the two men approaching, the stranger ran to an early-1990s model Ford Tempo and drove down U.S. Route 224 toward Canfield. The men noticed about $400 worth of tools were missing from the van.

Officer noticed car: Shortly after that, a township patrolman en route to Perkins noticed a green Ford Tempo on Southern Boulevard at Indianola Road.

Reports say the officer got behind the car, which immediately took off at a high rate of speed and turned onto Homestead Drive. The officer turned on the cruiser's lights and siren and began a pursuit.

Reports say the man driving the Tempo continued to flee, driving over several lawns and around other obstacles. Citing the township's new policy on chases, the officer called off the pursuit after about 30 seconds.

Police Chief Jeffrey Patterson issued the new rules several weeks ago, spelling out when suspects can be pursued at high speed. Those times include when a serious felony offense is suspected; conduct that creates a substantial risk of death or harm; and when a known dangerous criminal or escapee is involved.

Patterson has maintained that the key is for officers to use proper judgment in determining when the pursuit has become more dangerous than the individual being chased.

Investigation will continue: As with Wednesday's chase, the chief said officers will not stop the actual investigation once a chase is called off. Lt. J.D. Heaver said officers have a license plate, description and other information about the car and driver.

Witnesses who saw the man take the material from the van will also be available to identify him once officers make an arrest.

The man may also face additional charges. Patterson has said that once an arrest is made in situations where officers call off a chase, the suspect will likely be charged with the initial crime and running from the law.

Patterson also said the department may look into confiscating the vehicles of those who lead officers on high-speed chases.

goodwin@vindy.com




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