JUNEAU – Dodge County law enforcement has seen an increase in traffic pursuits in 2020.
In the last 10 1/2 months, Dodge County law enforcement agencies have been on 23 pursuits. That is up from eight pursuits in 2019 and 16 in 2018.
“There are many hypotheses on the reason why, but the police chiefs and I are very concerned as the increase puts innocent bystanders and law enforcement officials in harm’s way,” Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt said in a press release.
A driver could be convicted of a felony count of knowingly fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer. This is in addition to any other violations or crimes that occurred before or during the pursuit.
“I want to be clear that Dodge County law enforcement has policies that will hold drivers accountable that choose to flee from law enforcement,” Schmidt said. “Of course, we will use good judgment in deciding when to pursue and when not to pursue. Those decisions consider many factors. Some of those factors include the seriousness of the offense, the risk to the public if we don’t pursue, the risk to the public if we do pursue, traffic/weather conditions, time of day, squad car condition and many other considerations.”
Law enforcement officers will follow up on these incidents to hold the suspect or vehicle owner accountable, Schmidt said. The registered owner is also liable under state statute and can also be held accountable for the pursuit if the driver is not located.
“I have met with numerous police chiefs in Dodge County and we all agree that this is a disturbing trend,” Schmidt said. “We believe that informing the public and those who may choose to flee from law enforcement officers in Dodge County is a good initial step to address this growing concern. We need all drivers to not put their lives and the lives of others at risk by fleeing. Additionally, taking responsibility for one’s actions goes a long way with the judge, but fleeing shows a blatant disregard for public safety and authority.”
Schmidt said he also wants to remind those in the area of a pursuit to quickly and safely pull over to the right side of the street or highway, stop and remain seat-belted in the vehicle.
“Please stay stopped until the vehicles have passed,” Schmidt said. “Also, before pulling back out on the street or highway, take a moment to check all around you to make sure another emergency vehicle is not approaching. It is our goal to apprehend these individuals quickly and safely and the public’s cooperation and constant awareness around you while traveling is key in ensuring your safety.”
Follow Terri Pederson on Twitter @tlp53916 or contact her at 920-356-6760.
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