Car chases create dangers for police, public

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Reported by: Janai Norman
Updated: 11/08/2013 6:56 pm Published: 11/08/2013 12:20 pm

Law enforcement in Tulsa has been led on five car chases in just five days.

Thomas Supernaw is behind bars for the most recent high speed chase. It started around 11:00 p.m. Thursday near 15th and Sheridan. Supernaw took off when officers tried to pull him over for a broken tail light.

“We don’t make people run from us,” TPD Sgt. Chris Witt tells FOX23. “But we have an obligation to stop them for committing a crime.”

FOX23’s Janai Norman went out with Sgt. Witt as he chased another officer in a car around the department’s pursuit training course.

Officers spend hours on the pursuit course preparing for the real thing on Tulsa streets that can happen at any time. Sometimes, Sgt. Witt says driver run just for thrills.

“’You made an illegal left turn, why did you run?’” he says of a situation when a driver runs from police but has a valid driver’s license, insurance and no outstanding warrants. “’Just to see if you can catch me.

Regardless of the reason behind the chase, FOX23 is uncovering the conditions officers have to consider when they decide to speed behind a suspect on the run.

“You’re wondering why they’re running from you, you’re concerned about whether they’re armed, you’re concerned about the traffic conditions, whether there’s pedestrian traffic,” Sgt. Witt says. “Those are all factors you have to consider by state law and by Tulsa police policy on whether or not to continue to pursue.”

And if the risks are too high or putting the public in danger, we’re learning officers are obligated to stop the chase.

More often I found out chases end when the suspects stop driving, but that doesn’t mean the pursuit is over.

“Probably most times, they decide I can run, I can get away from this situation easier if I get out and run.”

Because chases often only last a few minutes at most, sometimes an officer is on his own. But we uncovered the one police tactic that tends to help the most—TPD’s helicopter.

“You may get away from a police car, but you’re not going to get away from the police helicopter,” Witt says.

Whenever officers are engaged in a high speed chase, FOX23 is learning they are required to fill out a “Pursuit After Action Report” which a board later reviews to determine whether the chase was within policy guidelines.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Unwashed Mass - 11/8/2013 2:12 PM
1 Vote
We were promised the helicopter would put an end to high speed chases, this was after an unsuspecting family was hit and killed. Wasnt Shannon Clark bragging last week about terminating chases that were too dangerous? He said they wont run if you dont chase, but cowboys will be cowboys.
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