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.
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.