Police Explain Chase Policy

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- No one was hurt during the July 25th chase involving Cecil Shifflett Jr., but the decision for police to give chase can have deadly consequences.

Shifflett's hearing was continued, but today his lawyer asked for him to be released on bond because of medical issues.

The judge denied the request because he said it would be a threat to public safety.

Shifflett is accused of leading the Rockingham County Sheriff's deputies on a 45-minute pursuit.

Linda Davis waited in court for her fiance's hearing.

"The way that they pursued him, it was like they were hunting a rabid dog or somebody that has a mass murder," said Davis.

The Sheriff's Office said the chase started when deputies tried to arrest Shifflett for distribution of meth.

"If they had just taken the license plate, he was going to come home," said Davis.

Sergeant Brian Edwards with Waynesboro Police Department said some suspects never go home.

"We look at a person who possibly committed a very violent, heinous act, then we think of the propensity of him or her likely to do that again if that is released," said Edwards.

He said as a general rule a supervisor has to make the call whether to start the chase in a matter of seconds.

"Some things we think about is what time of day is our pursuit? What area of our locality is our pursuit? Is it our residential? Is there going to be going through a residential area or through a schools zone?" said Edwards.

Sometimes it may be too dangerous for neighbors, officers or even the driver involved.

Davis said that was Shifflett's fear.

"I wouldn't feel safe if I had six police cars behind me. What are they going to do to me? He was in fear for his life," said Davis.

Shifflett faces charges of destruction of public property with intent and also having a firearm and will be back in court on October 15th.

Edwards said high speed chases are scrutinized not only by their superiors but also by the public and court system.

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