DO WE HAVE THE
IN PLACE FOR
While most attention was understandably focused on the shot fired by a guard at a threatening vehicle yesterday at Walter Reed, I was perplexed by what happened long before the car reached the medical center gate.
According to the police statement, the suspect's vehicle was traveling 93 MPH in Virginia, and was being pursued by the Virginia State Police. But the report went on to say that the state troopers ended the pursuit at the Maryland state line, on the Beltway.
I had always thought that rule had been updated. The old getaway over the state line trick from TV, right? The Duke boys are being pursued by Sheriff Little in Chickasaw County. They elude capture, and cross the county line. The sheriff dutifully, if not willingly, screeches to a halt at the border. Throws his hat. Kicks his cruiser for good measure. "Dagnabbit!"
It's one of the oldest gimmicks in TV and film.
So did Virginia State Troopers actually have to do that yesterday, albeit in less dramatic fashion?
From what we've been told, apparently so.
I had no idea someone could go 93 MPH, deliberately evade police, and put the lives of those troopers and other motorists at risk, and make a crossjurisdictional getaway. So I had to look it up.
The DC Metropolitan Police handbook states:
"The Code of Maryland S2-305 provides that a police officer may enter Maryland in fresh pursuit in order to arrest a person on the grounds that he/she is believed to have committed a felony in the pursuing officer's state."
Surely, in a state with such harsh driver penalties like Virginia, yesterday's suspect would be eligible for arrest by Virginia police, right?
From what I can tell, the answer is no.
Virginia is unusual, in that it makes violations like reckless driving a criminal offense. And in Virginia, if you speed over 80 MPH, you are automatically going to be charged with reckless driving.
But reckless driving is only a criminal misdemeanor in Virginia.
So it appears that the Virginia State Police correctly followed their procedures by the book, and radioed ahead to the county and state.
In fact, it sounds like everyone followed procedure yesterday, and fortunately, it was a minor incident.
But had this been a terrorist attack, there would be Monday morning, armchair quarterbacking going on today.
Should cross-border pursuit policies be changed? Was this an example of why the county council blundered in canceling the county's police helicopter program? Could a potential terrorist vehicle travel that many miles across our region, and reach its target on any given day at 93 MPH?
These are questions that are worthy of consideration.
Labels: Bethesda, car crash, Montgomery County, Naval Hospital, October 23, police chase, police pursuit, shot fired, suspect crashed, Walter Reed, Walter Reed gate