First Pursuit:
Wood River Police Department, October 1982
This was a good lesson learned

While Attending the Police Academy at the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center at Grand Island, Nebraska, I was still required to work at patrol duty at the Wood River Police Department on weekends. Typically, I worked Friday and Saturday nights.

On this one particular Friday Night in during October 1982, I was parked, conversing with some teens on the downtown street. They wanted to know why cops jacked them up for traffic violations and such. Having been a teen not too long ago myself, I explained that the matter was not about revenue or making life difficult, but as a matter of safety. I’m good with a story, and I felt like I was getting through to them, rather than lecturing them. About that time, a red pickup truck in the next block starts revving it up, and takes off past where I was talking to the kids, smoking his tires as he went! Naturally, the teens all started should, “Hey! What about Him!” and “You better go after him!

I jump back into the patrol car, hit the red lights and take off after the offender. At this point, my intent is to give a severe chewing out for interrupting my educational opportunity to the kids at the least or a citation for Exhibition of Acceleration, but this guys not stopping. He gets to the end of main street, and turns north on Highway 11. I call in to dispatch that I’m attempting to stop this guy, when he hits the accelerator! I change my status to pursuit, and I turn on the siren.

When the subject gets to the north side of town, he turns west on a county road. I keep after him through the dirt and the dust as he takes off in excess of 80 miles per hour. We fly past a crew of corn harvesters, and continue west. Finally, the subject’s tail lights come on, and he’s slowing down. I thought at first he was going to stop, when suddenly he hits the gas again, spraying gravel all over the patrol car. I continue after him when all of the sudden, he hits the breaks, and slides straight into the ditch at a “T” intersection. I slam on my breaks, and slam into the back of the subject’s pickup as it’s bouncing back from his initial impact.

I jumped out to arrest whom I thought was some kid, but it turned out it was an intoxicated adult, who was presently under driver’s suspension for a previous drunk driving charge. While I’m cuffing him, he’s shouting that I can’t arrest him because we’re in Buffalo County. I asked, “What makes you think that?”

“Well, they can’t arrest the Duke Boys when they chase them out of Hazard County!” he replies.

I inform him, “This isn’t the Dukes of Hazard, and I’m not Sheriff Roscoe!”

Apparently, this intersection is the Hall / Buffalo County Line, and the subject crashed on the Buffalo County Side, and I crashed into his back side. I call Buffalo County to get a deputy to come out and take the report for the collision, and I call my dispatcher to call my Chief out from home, and send him out to the location. I figure I’m probably in big trouble. I’ve made a valid arrest, but I’ve been involved in a collision with the police car.

Deputy 9098, Bob Anderson a former high school classmate of mine arrives to take the accident report. He explains to me that the collision should not appear on my driving record, as this was a case of “Legal Intervention” as part of the pursuit. My Chief, 4084 Phil Hamm arrives and tales a look at the patrol car. No damage as far as anyone can tell. The subject pick up has two dents in the back where contact was made with the bumper of the patrol car, and quite a bit of damage to the front of the truck, including the engine going part way through the radiator. He goes over and talks to Bob from a minute, then comes back to me. He reaches inside his coat, and pulls out a roll of toilet paper, hand it to me laughing and says, “Here you go kid! I thought you might need this!

I wasn’t in any trouble at all! The Chief says, “Take your prisoner to Grand Island and get him processed. I’ll look forward to reading your report in the morning!”

On Monday Morning at the Academy, word had already got around that I had been in a pursuit, and that I kind of, sort of wrecked the patrol car. The Traffic Enforcement Instructor, Marty Totsky, with my report in hand, announces to the class that we’re going to use my pursuit as a case study in what to do, and what not to do during a pursuit. Oh Joy! Spotlight on Schulze! The class and the instructor determined that I only did one thing wrong. I had followed too close during the pursuit. Had I been further back, I likely would not have made contact with the subject vehicle.

This was a good lesson learned.

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