Who knows why people lead police on high-speed chases?
Perhaps people saw "Smokey and the Bandit" or "The Dukes of Hazzard" a few too many times and think they can actually outrun the law. Perhaps it's not comprehending the law and thinking that making it to another police department's jurisdiction will end a chase. It's impossible to explain what motivates people to do things that make no sense.
It's not impossible, however, to convey the danger posed to the general public when someone decides they can outrun the law. The latest reminder came about a week ago when residents of Jamestown's south side had their attention drawn from their favorite Monday night sitcoms to the sirens blazing down their street as police pursued Bryan E. Bobe, 24, of Jamestown.
Police report Bobe ran multiple red lights and stop signs during the several-minutes-long pursuit through the south side of Jamestown and allegedly tried to run his vehicle into patrol cars multiple times. The chase finally came to an end when Bobe hit a pickup truck at the corner of Douglas Place and Foote Avenue. Bobe was taken to UPMC in Erie for treatment of his injuries.
Given the speeds during the chase, the situation was unsafe for pedestrians, other drivers, those who have to leave their parked cars on the street or those whose home is a mere clipped curb away from having a car sitting in one's living room. And, as Bobe found out, fighting the law can hurt the person leading the chase, too.
Area police have discretion in these instances. It is, after all, impossible to plan for every situation. Sheriff Joe Gerace told The Post-Journal in 2012 that his department has a pursuit policy in which officers are given discretion to pursue an individual or use another way to find a person. Deputies or their supervisor can also end a pursuit at any time if they feel the chase is going into an area that may be hazardous or if the chase itself is becoming too dangerous.
That discretion was shown during a recent chase that entered Jamestown at about the same time children were getting out of school and when there was heavy traffic on Jamestown's main streets. Police called off that chase before the situation could get worse, and the driver was found in Busti.
There are some who say there should never be police chases. We know that isn't a workable solution because never pursuing those who refuse to obey lawful commands given by a police officer means no one would ever be pulled over. It would lead to mayhem on our roads. Some chases likely could be called off sooner than they are, but hindsight is 20-20.
The need for chases would be negated if drivers would simply pull over. People should remember that the next time they think they're Bo or Luke Duke on the back roads of Hazzard County.