Edmond PD: Pursuits are “tricky situations” with no hard, fast rules

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EDMOND, Okla. – The Edmond Police Department is looking in to whether department policies or procedures should be changed after a high-speed chase Sunday.

Police officers followed two suspects wanted for stealing items from a Walmart.

The Chevrolet Envoy eventually crashed, head-on, into another car near East Wilshire Boulevard and North Kelley Avenue.

Four people were taken to the hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries, including the two suspects, Derek Lamont Benjamin, 25, and Shawn Bruner, 27. Those two men are currently in the Oklahoma County jail.

At times during the pursuit, speeds reached 80-90 mph, the suspect SUV barreling through intersections, bobbing and weaving through traffic or driving into oncoming traffic, narrowly missing other drivers.

“We’re always reviewing and evaluating,” said Edmond Deputy Chief Tim Dorsey. “Each time, it’s a unique situation, and we review it, learn from it, and move on.”

Dorsey says pursuits are some of the most dangerous situations officers face. But it’s not just a danger for just officers, but innocent bystanders and drivers.

In a 2007 study reviewing police pursuit fatalities, it found 7,430 people were killed during a period from 1982-2004, according to data reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Of those deaths, more than 5,350 people killed were in the vehicle being chased (about 72-percent); one-percent of deaths were law enforcement officers, who accounted for 81 deaths; the other roughly third of deaths (1,994 people) were completely uninvolved in the pursuit.

Dorsey says the pursuing officer and a supervisor are always involved in communicating whether a chase should be terminated, or not. Those actions are then reviewed afterward, with training staff, to potentially change department policies or procedures.

“To pursue, or not. How safe is it? What (are) the road conditions like? Weather? How much traffic? Those are all factors,” said Dorsey. “Certainly you’re concerned about the people driving around on a Sunday afternoon.”

"It's a very tricky situation and there are certainly no absolutes," he said.

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