One criminal caught, and the "one that got away," Pasco police talk car chase protocol

Pasco police use PIT maneuver on teen who stole a car on Tuesday.

PASCO, Wash. – Two car-stealing bandits led Pasco Police on car chases over the past week. In one chase, they successfully caught a 16-year-old behind the wheel, and then there was the notorious “one that got away.”

Many of you wondered why officers didn’t do what they could to catch the suspected criminal.

Action News met with Pasco Police to find out what their protocol is when caught in a dangerous pursuit.

On Tuesday, Pasco Police say they were successful in using the PIT maneuver—the pursuit intervention technique—to force a fleeing stolen car to abruptly turn sideways, causing the driver to lose control and stop, while other officers block the car from moving in any direction.

While Pasco police say they always want to catch the crooks, pursuits can be a risk and liability to public safety.

"Because these individuals will do anything and everything to keep from going to jail," explained Sgt. Scott Warren with Pasco Police.

"Speeds pick up, the driver of that vehicle becomes reckless, not stopping for stop signs, so as a patrol officer lots of things start running through your head."

Sgt. Warren says officers must weigh three main things when a chase begins:

  1. The reason for the stop (severity of the crime)
  2. The driving conditions (day, night, rush hour, weather)
  3. Public safety

In a second car chase on Friday, an officer noticed a stolen car on the road. As soon as the lights turned on, police say the pursuit began.

"Criminals don't have boundaries," Warren said.

The driver raced into Kennewick. Sgt. Warren says KPD was on their way to help.

The dashcam video shoes the suspect rushing through a red light and Warren says Pasco Police policy is clear.

"If it's a red light, and you're chasing somebody, it doesn’t give you authority to blow through it," he explained. “If an officer doesn’t safely clear an intersection, and strikes another car, they could be liable.”

The officer lost sight of the car that Friday night—and ultimately, the criminal got away. Kennewick police later found the stolen vehicle abandoned.

Pasco Police critique every major incident to talk about what was done well and what could have been done better.

"You know the initial officer got what we call 'buck fever' and maybe jumped the gun in putting his overheads on in attempting to stop the vehicle," Warren said. “When the officer should have probably waited until backup was nearby.”

As with any professions, Sgt. Warren added, officers learn from their mistakes, to be more successful next time.

But when on dangerous pursuits, Pasco Police say public safety is always paramount.

Police say to slow down and pull over to the right, if you're ever caught in the middle of an apparent car chase. They say to never try to attempt to help stop the vehicle, or do anything that could put you in harms way.

Instead, they ask that you be a good witness. If you see anything or could describe a suspect, call police with that information.

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