Officers address recent spike in police pursuits

By: Jordan Shefte - Email
By: Jordan Shefte - Email
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WICHITA, Kan. In February, the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department has been involved in seven pursuits, six of them happening in just the past week. The recent spike is drawing attention.

Several people have contacted KAKE News questioning the high number of chases, saying they're concerned about public safety.

The pursuits can be dangerous, but law enforcement departments say they aren't taken lightly. There are a number of factors considered in each chase.

The Wichita Police Department actually has a decision making grid that helps determine whether of not to pursue. The offense is weighed against the risks. Officers take into account factors like the weather, how many intersections could be involved, how heavy traffic is and how fast the suspect vehicle is traveling.

"This is something that this guy chose to do. As law enforcement in your county, in your city, we have an obligation we feel like to take these people seriously," said Lieutenant Jason Gill. "We also take the risks seriously, we weigh those things throughout every second of the pursuit."

The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department pursuit policy was re-written in 2011. Lieutenant Mattingly says the old policy made it difficult to make decisions. Now, it's much more simple.

"Officers will continually weight the need to immediately apprehend the suspect versus the risk to the public, officers, and the offender," Mattingly said.

Of the six chases the Sheriff's Department has been involved in this week, two of them were terminated.

"As a supervisor, it's something we have to think about constantly," Gill said. "But we don't want these people thinking that they can get away just simply by trying."

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