According to local police, public safety is the number one concern for officers when they are involved in a vehicle pursuit like the one that took place earlier this month on U.S. 42.
On April 4, a City of Delaware Police officer recognized a passenger in a vehicle at Dollar General on London Road as Troy Brandon Tyler Byrd, 29, a convict who escaped from a correctional facility days earlier, and attempted to pull the vehicle over.
The driver of the car, Jamie Victoria Jarrett, 38, refused to comply and led officers on a chase from London Road down U.S. 42 South and into Union County where deputies from the Union County Sheriff’s Office deployed stop strips at the intersection of U.S. 42 and U.S. 33.
According to the dashcam video, Jarrett pulled the vehicle over before hitting the stop strip. Jarrett and Byrd were then taken into custody without incident.
City of Delaware Police Captain Adam Moore said the officer radioed in to say that the vehicle was not going to stop and at that point a supervisor became involved and began coordinating with other agencies.
Moore said that when a vehicle fails to pull over, an officer has to make a judgment call about whether or not a vehicle pursuit is warranted based on the offender’s violation because pursuits can be dangerous for the public, the suspect and the officer.
Moore said the supervisor and officer have to be aware of a huge variety of factors when a pursuit.
“Some things that come into play are what time of day is it? What are traffic conditions?” Moore said. “U.S. 23 at 3 a.m. is a lot different than U.S. 23 at 3 p.m.”
Once a pursuit is started the supervisor begins coordinating with other local agencies, (in this case the Delaware County and Union County Sheriff’s Offices and City of Columbus Police) and begins choreographing a response and coming up with a way to stop the vehicle.
Moore said an officer in a pursuit, especially one where the suspect is an escaped convict, is thinking about what happens if the suspect is armed or what happens if they stop or crash their car and flee on foot. These considerations play into where law enforcement will try to stop the vehicle, Moore said.
“They have to think about what is going to happen when this has come to a stop,” Moore said. “There’s a lot of things on their mind and there’s a lot happening.”
Moore said that is why it’s important to give officers good training. According to Moore, when an officer is hired at the City of Delaware Police Department they undergo extra training and review the police department’s policy on pursuits and when and how they can pursue a suspect.
In addition to internal training and review, some officers are sent to Precision Immobilization Techniques (PIT) training, which specifically relates to vehicle pursuits.
“We hire good people, we give them good training and they make good decisions,” Moore said.
Moore said pursuits and other high-risk situations put a lot of stress on officers so it’s critically important they can rely on their training.
During the recent pursuit, speeds exceeded 60 miles per hour, which Moore said was just slightly over the speed limit and said this particular chase was “pretty mundane,” but said it was still very dangerous because Jarrett ran several red lights and forced the officer to do the same.
“We can only go through a red light if we do it safely,” Moore said. “We still have a responsibility to make sure no one else is coming through.”
Moore said that, generally speaking, to increase awareness and safety, officers using their lights and sirens may alternate the siren’s sound because some drivers might hear one tone and ignore it.
“It’s important to remember that we can’t control the unexpected behavior of some individuals,” Moore said. “We have very well trained people who know how to handle these situations and have trained to deal with multiple things at once.”
Byrd has since been transported back to the prison and Jarrett has been charged with obstructing justice and failure to comply.
“There really is not any reason to engage in [a chase with police],” Moore said. “They are putting themselves, the officer and the general public at risk.”
Glenn Battishill can reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.