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Jackson County sheriff adopts 'restrictive' pursuit policy after deputy charged in May 2018 crash

Posted at 10:01 PM, May 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-02 23:05:13-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jackson County Sheriff Darryl Forte announced changes to the department's pursuit policy Thursday, one day after a deputy was charged for injuring an innocent bystander in a May 2018 chase.

Forte posted on Facebook that he began reviewing the policy shortly after taking office, which also happened in May 2018.

"After hearing the concerns of members of the Sheriff's Office who also shared similar views, I immediately suspended all vehicle pursuits pending a policy review," Forte said in the statement.

Sheriff's Office commanders met in March 2019 to review changes to the pursuit policy, according to Forte, who said "a restrictive vehicle pursuit policy" was established April 13. The policy includes guidelines that specify the criteria for deputies to initiate or become involved in a pursuit.

Specific details of the new policy are unknown at this time, but 41 Action News reached out to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office for a copy of the new policy.

The department's previous policy, which was obtained by 41 Action News last May, did not prohibit chases for suspected misdemeanor crimes.

That document said deputies "will not initiate a vehicle pursuit for traffic violations, impaired driving, or stolen autos unless the suspect vehicle or occupant(s) have been involved in a dangerous felony" or if there was an immediate danger to the safety of others.

The previous policy also dealt with the use of the StarChase, a system that tracks suspects through a GPS device and eliminates the need for a high-speed pursuit. It allowed deputies to shut off their lights and sirens while using StarChase and mandated that they follow the normal rules of the road, including stopping at red lights and driving the speed limit.

According to a probable cause statement, that's not what Jackson County Sheriff's Deputy Sean Stoff did during a May 2018 pursuit on Missouri 350 in Raytown.

Stoff, 34, was charged Wednesday with operating a vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner after he continued to speed and ran a red light in pursuit of a suspect despite deploying StarChase, according to court documents. Stoff's had turned off the vehicle's emergency lights and siren.

Stoff drove through a red light at more than 25 mph over the speed limit, slamming into a car driven by Christopher Reed that was turning left with a gree light. Reed was ejected and suffered serious injuries in the crash.