Police Chases and Bailouts: A Dangerous Trend Costing Taxpayers

Fatality from a stolen vehicle crash in August on St Rd 84 above I-95. Photos by Jim Donnelly.

By: Jim Donnelly

Jimmy Fallon hadn’t finished interviewing his first guest when I heard the sound you never want to hear in your neighborhood: the sheriff’s helicopter circling overhead.

I’ve been in the news business long enough to know the familiar sound of a search/chase in progress.  I grabbed one of my police scanners and quickly learned the Coral Springs Police, with the assistance of the Margate Police, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Broward Sheriff’s Office Aviation unit were chasing four people from a bailout.

This growing trend of bailouts are costing taxpayers, a lot of money and are happening every day and night. In this case, Coral Springs Police tried to pull over a stolen Hummer SUV and the chase was on. The vehicle came to a stop at the dead end of Ramblewood Drive just south of Atlantic and the four occupants got out and ran: a bailout.

By my count there were at least 15 police cars on the scene from the various departments. After the suspects ran from the stolen vehicle, two were apprehended a block east of the bailout behind a home on NW 81 Way.  Some officers had already left the scene to go to a call that had been put on hold while the four suspects tried their best to elude them.  I hope that call wasn’t important because the officers were tied up with this nonsense. 

It seems to be a growing trend that not only ties up police resources, but disrupts the lives of the owner of the vehicle, raises insurance rates and puts lives at risk. The chases bring out the worse part of a law enforcement officer’s job: running in the dark where anything can happen, guns drawn and K9’s released, so naturally fire rescue has to be called in for the dog bite.  These resources are used all because a kid with nothing better to do gets a dog bite, typically  a badge of honor among thieves. 

It goes without saying in this litigious society that the suspect isn’t going to like how he is treated, so he will find the first Johnny Cochran he can to willingly sue the department for brutality.  Little concern is given to the officers who get hurt chasing these suspects. Sadly, the taxpayers will foot the bill for their medical care and pay while they can’t work. 

We need stiffer penalties for stealing cars and running from the police so they will think twice before going on a joyride with their friends in a stolen vehicle.

Back on August 17, five kids were in a horrible crash on State Road 84 directly above I-95. They were in a stolen vehicle, traveling well over 100 mph when the driver attempted a turn that was beyond the law of physics. The car smashed into the wall with such incredible force the entire engine was dislodged from the vehicle along with the driver. He died when the car rolled on top of him. The other four kids in the car, cousins of the driver, were all transported to the hospital with serious injuries. Again, all of those resources – multiple police, numerous fire rescue vehicles and personnel and even the coroner,  were tied up for hours.  Someone has to pay for all of these stolen vehicles, and citizens typically foot the bill as premiums get higher and higher.

The criminals are playing games with the police because the repercussions don’t scare them. What if you were out walking your dog before bed on Ramblewood Drive and this police chase comes roaring at you?  What about Coral Springs teacher Christianne Weiner who was killed last December after being hit by 17-year-old Eric Abraham in a stolen Toyota Corolla?

Enough is enough. Contact your lawmakers and get them to do something about it.  The police have better things to do than chase car thieves. But I gotta admit, I love hearing the K9 unit make another arrest as I picture those razor-sharp teeth teaching that perpetrator a lesson he won’t soon forget.  I rest easy at night knowing that we have one of the best K9 units in the country right here in Coral Springs.

 

About Jim Donnelly

avatar Jim Donnelly is an Emmy Award winning journalist with over 30 years of experience reporting news in South Florida and beyond. Through his company Image Masters Photography he has also provided services for many of the Fortune 100 companies. He has provided services for the Marlins, Heat, Dolphins and NASCAR as well as providing breaking news coverage for all of the major news outlets in South Florida and major networks around the world. Jim is a member of the Coral Springs Sports Commission and has a long history of volunteer work with the city as well as with the School Board of Broward County.

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  • yongo

    If the city of coral springs has to rely on the resources of the Broward county sheriff, could
    it be time to turn over the policing of coral springs to the sheriff’s department. It most likely would save the tax payers millions of dollars a year.

  • Sam Sirico

    So are you against chases or for them? You like to see bad guys caught but you do not want the police to use resources to catch them. You make it sound like it is a bother to the stolen car owner to have his car chased so that it can be recovered.

    The problem with the discussion about chases is that there are pros and cons to both sides. If you knew that you would not be chased if you committed a crime would you be more inclined to commit that crime? Based on my prior law enforcement experience in Pompano there are ways to minimize the danger to citizens but I will tell you this, if I turn off my lights and all the involved cops turn around the bad guy does not slow down. One must also consider what crimes you might prevent or solve if you do stop that chase. Very often you would get a car stopped and 10 minutes later find out that the suspects and car were used in a more egregious crime.

    To Yongo be careful what you wish for. Having your own city police dept is a blessing. I am going to say nothing further. I was in Pompano during that transition.

    As far as your officers use of time what should a cop be doing? Drive around and wait for the bad guy to throw up his hands? Should they respond to domestic calls. Is that a waste of time to have 3 officers show up at the call. My wife would always be baffled when she would see 5 officers at a call. I was called a coward by other officers because I always wanted to respond to a call with back up. If you are agitated would you be more like or less likely to fight a cop if there were 5 standing in front of you. If you get to the call and assess that the danger is minimal then you can allow the other officers to clear.

    People who do not work the streets should be allowed to make judgement calls about how cops should do their jobs. But I will say that as officers we need to assess our own decisions.
    I have rambled on to much

    • Yongo

      I am for law and order your reply has nothing to do with my suggestion of looking into the financial means of paying for pur police protection. Some cities are very happy with the protection provided by the sheriff’s department others are not . I font know if it’s a political thing or not. The new paper articles the t.v. stations show the sheriff’s department in good light doing a good job. Local police seem to to do a good job also but do not have the equipment that the sheriff’s department has. That was I was commenting on.

  • Sara

    I think this is one of those “you get what you pay for” topics. Granted, for the Coral Springs police dept to utilize their available resources to chase and apprehend car thieves is very expensive. However, one of the many reasons that I choose to live here is that it is quite safe when compared to other cities in south Florida. Having an excellent police department is expensive and I don’t think we should be suggesting that they perform their work differently. Historically . . . their performance is one fundamental element that has contributed to making the city of Coral Springs a very desirable city to live in. It does not seem realistic on my end to expect a car theft/bail out event to transpire with no risk to other residents. Criminals generate danger. Police officers work 24/7 at minimizing the danger created. There is no such thing as risk free police enforcement. It is dangerous. It is risky and yes . . . it is expensive.