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Sort of a fast ridePosted Friday, July 31, 2009, at 3:53 PM
Sgt. James Wilkerson, in white car at left, practices a pursuit as Detective Lt. Pat Mathis leads the way. (T-G Photo by David Melson)
I experienced a mild taste Friday afternoon during Shelbyville Police Department pursuit training.
The object, as explained by Lt. Trey Clanton, who conducted the class, was for officers to practice staying calm, controlling their adrenaline and keeping focused on what's around them in chases, not just zeroing in on the car in front.
"Get in and take a ride," Clanton said. So I did, with Major Jan Phillips in a chase path laid out in the old Walmart parking lot on Madison Street.
The "chases" involved Lt. Pat Mathis of the detective division leading officers in simulated chases of felony suspects.
We never got above 40 mph except for one stretch when I think Phillips got up to 55 or 60 briefly. But patterns were laid out requiring fast, tight turns in narrow spaces. Add to the fun a rule that officers were "penalized" if they knocked down any of the plastic cones.
But there was a lot of bouncing around -- and quick thinking -- in the patrol car as Phillips slung his cruiser from side to side through the cones, all while simulating "clearing" intersections and, at first, radioing his location.
Part of the practice included bringing in a second unit behind the pursuit car to "call" the chase back to dispatchers.
The officers rarely hit any of the cones in tight routes which I'd bet few untrained drivers could even come close to handling.
A wild ride, definitely, but one which proved there's a lot more to police pursuits than just taking off after someone.
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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.
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