Wilmington police defend decision to stop car chase - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Wilmington police defend decision to stop car chase

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What started out as a domestic situation in Wilmington ended in a crash in New Hanover County. What started out as a domestic situation in Wilmington ended in a crash in New Hanover County.

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – What started out as a domestic situation in Wilmington ended in a crash in New Hanover County Monday.

According to authorities, police followed Alfonso Bethea who had three warrants for his arrest. Two are for assault on a female, and one is for failure to appear in court.

Police started to chase Bethea on 23rd Street, but ended the pursuit after about a minute because of the wet conditions and the fact the suspect's identity was known.

Bethea, however, kept going and reached 70 mph on Blue Clay Road and got in an accident in the 3000 block of Blue Clay Rd.

Bethea was taken to the hospital for injuries but is expected to be okay. According to hospital officials, Bethea is listed in fair condition.

Corporal Kevin Smith says the police department did everything correctly when it comes to stopping the chase. He says, due to the slick roads and the small nature of the crime, the supervising officer was correct with his decision to terminate the chase.

Smith also added that the identity of the suspect was known.  Therefore, even if police did not arrest Bethea on the scene, they still would have been able to put out a warrant for his arrest.

Smith says there are several different factors involved in the police policy for chasing suspected criminals, including:

  • the speed of which the suspect's car is traveling
  • weather conditions and road conditions at the time
  • the nature of the crime
  • the identity of the suspect
  • the suspect's threat to public safety

Smith says when a suspect is "on the run," it's the supervising officer's responsibility to assess all of the factors involved, including the safety of the police and the community, to make a conscious decision to continue the chase or terminate the pursuit.

"Our main priority is safety," said Smith. "Not only do we want to keep our community safe and keep our constituents safe, but we want our hard working officers to continue safe practices as well."

Smith says they take these policy rules very seriously to protect the safety of their officers and of the community.

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