By: Forrest R. Church, Publisher
THE VILLAGE REPORTER / OPINION COLUMN
Friday’s police chase that started in Fulton County before ending in a horrific crash in Williams County (Montpelier, Ohio – Miller’s New Market intersection) causing injury to three people led the topic of discussion at local coffee shops over the weekend (original story coverage below).
Northwest Ohio has seen its fair share of police chases over the years, Friday’s incident adds to the long list.
The main topic of discussion by many “Monday Morning Quarterbacks” sucking on caffeine (including myself) at local restaurants or openly debating on social media, seemed to revolve around whether police officials should always pursue subjects who take off at a high rate of speed?
The general concern discussed revolves around the danger of entering residential neighborhoods with an out of control vehicle and unstable subject amped up on adrenaline and possibly drugs (could they make the arrest later in a more controlled/calm scenario).
On the flip side, as is often the case, those being pursued are violent offenders, one can only imagine the harm they could cause if they were temporarily let go by chasing officers when there would be no guarantee they could later be located. I do know I would never want to be placed in the position of having to make this decision!
Policy on the matter seems to vary widely state by state and at times even department by department.
I can recall local, regional and national newspaper articles and television coverage over the years indicating a wide stance on policy. I’m sure Friday’s chase will resume the debate locally.
I have read columns and read “Letters to the Editor” from citizens who believe a chase should never start in the first place.
Others believe subjects should be fully pursued and caught no matter the risk, which seems to generally be more of a traditional approach, fortunately, more times than not, ending without major injury.
What are your thoughts? Please post in the comments below.
While on the subject of police pursuits taking place locally, Friday’s chase reminded me of my high school days when I was playing a game of pickup basketball with my dad, shooting hoops on the side of our old country barn.
Being raised between West Unity and Montpelier Ohio, on State Route 20A, I can recall in the midst of our game the Police Chief of West Unity (at the time David Myers) placing his car sideways (outside his normal village jurisdiction) on the highway.
Suddenly, an old station wagon came past blowing a large cloud of smoke from an overheating motor at full speed around Chief Myers’ roadblock with numerous officers in pursuit behind (this all took place in a matter of a few seconds).
In a time when watching the corn grow was a weekday activity, I can recall this was quite the event talked about at school weeks later and even debated then.
I suppose the location being largely the same as Friday’s pursuit reminded me of this prior chase from 25 years ago (youtube video below).
I’m sure no matter your stance on pursuits, we can all agree to keep those injured Friday in our thoughts and prayers while doing the same for our local law enforcement heroes who place themselves in danger all too often to keep us safe.
Forrest R. Church may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Police Chase Video From 1993
SIMILAR POLICE CHASE TAKING PLACE THROUGHOUT WILLIAMS COUNTY IN 1993
High Speed Chase Ends With Large Multi-Vehicle Wreck (With Injuries) In Montpelier
On May 11, 2018, at 1721 hrs, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office requested assistance from the Williams County Sheriff’s Office in a vehicle pursuit traveling towards Williams County. It was learned a deputy was in pursuit of a 1998 Chevrolet Pickup Truck. The pursuit traveled west on CR-M in Fulton County before coming into Williams County on CR-O.
The subject operating the truck was believed to be suicidal, homicidal and under the influence of drugs. The pursuit traveled through the City of Bryan, Village of Blakeslee, Village of West Unity, and the Village of Montpelier. Upon traveling west through the Village of Montpelier, the vehicle failed to stop at the stop light on East Main Street at Whitaker Way. Upon traveling into the intersection, the truck struck a Ford Escort that was turning west onto East Main Street from Whitaker Way. The truck veered off the Ford Escort and struck a Chevrolet Impala that was in the westbound lane stopped at the red traffic light.
The driver of the Ford Escort and the driver of the Chevrolet Impala were transported to Montpelier Emergency Room for non-life threatening injuries. They were ultimately treated and released. The driver of the truck was transported to Montpelier Emergency room before being flown by life flight to Parkview Medical Center for further treatment.
Assisting in the pursuit was the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, Fayette Police Department, Williams County Sheriff’s Office, Montpelier Police Department, West Unity Police Department, Bryan Police Department, Edon Police Department, Stryker Police Department, Pioneer Police Department, Edgerton Police Department, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Montpelier Fire Department, Williams County Ems, and the Williams County Central Communications Center.
This incident remains under investigation.
Video courtesy of Shannon Baltosser DeWulf
© 2018, Forrest Church. All rights reserved.