High-speed chase training helps officers keep public safe

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. - Staggering numbers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the deadliness of high-speed police chases are why officers from multiple agencies spent Monday practicing how to safely pursue a suspect.

The FBI estimates one person dies during a police chase every day, and 42 percent are innocent bystanders.

"We like to catch the bad guy. There's no doubt about that," Prairie Village Police Sgt. Myron Ward said,

"However, the safety of the public, the safety of the officer, getting everybody home at the end of the day is what we're about."

Ward one was one of a half dozen local officers at the Kansas Speedway for an annual driving simulation. Officers worked on reversing through an obstacle course, making sudden stops while driving 65 mph and maneuvering through sharp turns and foreign objects in the road.

"You have to get comfortable with the car, your own skills and abilities, so you can control the car in a situation when it arises," Ward said.

Officer Joel Colletti is a driving instructor and says officers have to listen to directions from the dispatcher while thinking about the weather and traffic conditions, the time of day, their location, the suspect and other drivers and pedestrians.

"Everything makes you have a little bit of tunnel vision and one of the things we train on is taking deep breaths," Colletti said.

Ward said officers train regularly, so when the time comes they're prepared to pursue a suspect without putting the public in jeopardy.

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