Pursuit prompts concerns about public safety

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Friday night chase prompted Brookhaven authorities to expressconcerns about potential dangers related to pursuits into the citylimits by county law enforcement agencies, but Sheriff WileyCalcote said chases are “blink of an eye” actions that are out ofauthorities’ control.

“With the amount of traffic we have and the people we have onthe street, I’m very much concerned about it,” said Police ChiefPap Henderson.

Henderson’s comments came as he and Capt. Bobby Bell watcheddeputies and emergency personnel work a wreck scene following abrief chase that ended near Enterprise Street Friday night. LincolnCounty authorities were pursuing a man who was running from acheckpoint set up on Old Highway 51.

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Bell said Enterprise is a busy street and it was fortunate thatno vehicle or pedestrian traffic was at the Main Streetintersection when the fleeing vehicle came through around 11:45p.m. Friday.

“You could have had someone dead,” Bell said.

The chief and Bell mentioned a nearby skating rink as oneexample where people congregate. Henderson said people may notshould be out late at night, but nevertheless they are.

“All this has to be taken into consideration,” Hendersonsaid.

Henderson said he could understand a pursuit in the event of aserious crime like a kidnapping or armed robbery, but he questionedthe need for pursuit in cases of routine traffic matters. The chiefsaid he would express his concerns to Calcote later.

When contacted Saturday, Calcote echoed Henderson’s commentsabout the need to be safety conscious.

“Our first concern is the general public,” Calcote said.

However, he indicated the decision to flee was not made by lawenforcement.

“He was the one who chose to run into the city,” Calcote said.”We couldn’t stop him from doing that.”

Calcote said the pursuing deputy was doing everything withinguidelines regarding a chase. Authorities said speeds during thepursuit were in excess of 90 miles per hour.

“The man wasn’t being pushed as hard as he was running,” Calcotesaid.