Ty Atkins never thought what he would witness would be the beginning of a long high-speed pursuit on Tuesday afternoon.
Atkins had just finished off-loading some items from his large Penske truck when he saw that a nearby gate was open. A white truck sped quickly through the parking lot. "By the time he stopped and I was fixing to move some more, he shot off," said Atkins.
He's talking about the driver who police say stole a white truck and led police on a 45-minute pursuit through Collin and Dallas Counties. "He almost ran me down," said Atkins. Ty Atkins was so close to being the first victim. The driver zipped through traffic. In several cases, the driver went the opposite direction forcing cars to veer off and barely escaping close calls.
From HD Chopper 8, WFAA saw the truck clip a car sitting at a red light. This police chase brings up the conversation again about policies dealing with police pursuits.
"Does the violation outweigh the danger to the public and the officer," said Randall Blankenbaker who was a former Assistant Chief with Dallas police. He is known for spearheading the department's policy on police pursuits back in 2006. Dallas Police's policy is that officers will only pursue suspects of violent felonies. Blankenbaker says no other police department in the DFW area has this rule.
"They wanna catch the bad guy and put him in jail; that's a culture," said the former Assistant Chief referring to other department's policies. He says that is a good culture to have, but it has to have limits. McKinney Police, who responded in this chase with Dallas Sheriffs and DPS, says its pursuit policy is situational. A representative with McKinney police says the department decided to pursue because this was a felony theft case.
"The thing I'm most proud of is my participation in this pursuit policy. In my mind, it saved 30 to 40 people's lives," Randall said. Randall says before the policy was adopted, in a two-year span there were 700 chases and it resulted in six deaths. He says four of those deaths were innocent bystanders. Between 2006 and now, there have only been one death resulting from a chase.
In this case, the driver ditched the truck in Dallas and jumped a fence and into an apartment complex. As of Tuesday night, the suspect has not been arrested. The question of whether to pursue has been asked many times. The answer is not so simple.