Berkeley County sheriff defends number of vehicle pursuits, says they get results and arrests

Updated: Oct. 6, 2020 at 4:41 PM EDT
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BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Berkeley County’s sheriff says his agency is most likely involved in more car chases with suspects than other agencies in the Tri- County area because they get results and make arrests.

On Monday, deputies were involved in two chases, both that ended with crashes and arrests.

“We do it because that’s what the people of this county pay us to do: Go after criminals,” Sheriff Duane Lewis said. “We don’t sit under trees waiting for things to happen. We’re proactive. We’re in the community and when we see things suspicious or criminal activity occurring we stop it.”

Numbers provided by the sheriff’s office show that last year there have been 60 car chases with suspects this year. Last year there were 68 chases.Eighty-four percent of the drivers were caught.

In 2018, there were 57 car chases with 70 percent of the drivers arrested. Lewis says there is a strict pursuit policy and that danger to the public and other factors are taken into consideration.

“It’s not just that we wildly chase someone like the old days,” Lewis said. “Usually these folks, typically we see they’ve committed a crime. They either have illegal weapons, narcotics or they’ve committed a crime somewhere.”

We asked some folks in a Berkeley County for their thoughts on car chases involving police

“I guess it depends on who they’re chasing. If they know who they are, don’t chase them. Get them later,” Wendy Evans of Moncks Corner said.

“It’s dangerous, they’re endangering the lives,” Matt Brown of Summerville said. “Their sole purpose is to protect the public and the public’s property."

”Some folks say it’s not the safest thing to do, but the business that we’re in is not safe no matter what we do," Lewis said.

Lewis said there’s another reason suspects take off from deputies. He said failure to stop for a blue light is a misdemeanor unless it involves serious injury or death.

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