Chase stirs policy consideration
A 23-year-old Grand Forks, N.D., man was arrested Wednesday after fleeing from Fargo police and Cass County deputies at speeds exceeding 100 mph. The incident is an example of why the Cass County Sheriff's Department and Fargo and West Fargo ...
A 23-year-old Grand Forks, N.D., man was arrested Wednesday after fleeing from Fargo police and Cass County deputies at speeds exceeding 100 mph.
The incident is an example of why the Cass County Sheriff's Department and Fargo and West Fargo police departments must develop a uniform chase policy, said Sheriff's Department Lt. Mike Argall.
Fargo police began following Jerry Dean Goulet at 10:21 p.m. Wednesday after seeing him drive the wrong way on University Drive near First Avenue North.
Initially, Goulet stayed within the 30 mph speed limit. Police, however, saw him drive through several stop signs and red lights.
Fargo police officers won't chase offenders unless they have committed a violent offense and are dangerous, Lt. Tod Dahle said Thursday.
"High speed chases are dangerous and frequently end in crashes and injuries," he said.
Once Goulet turned north on Interstate 29 reaching speeds exceeding 100 mph, Fargo police stopped pursuing him.
At that point, Cass County Deputy Dan Korsmo took over.
Korsmo tried but failed to stop Goulet using stop sticks -- spiked, triangular impediments used to puncture offenders' tires.
Goulet eventually slowed to about 70 mph. Korsmo followed Goulet without warning lights or sirens to Hillsboro, about 35 miles north of Fargo, where Goulet was arrested by Traill County deputies for drunken driving. Other charges are pending from Fargo and Cass County.
Argall wouldn't classify Wednesday night's pursuit as a chase, he said.
Still, the fact that three different law enforcement departments got involved shows the need for coordinating area chase policies, he said.
Currently, West Fargo, Fargo and Cass County all have similar but different pursuit policies, he said.
For example, the Fargo Police Department's policy is more conservative than the county's, Dahle said.
Officials have been working for several months to coordinate policies, Argall said.
They also are trying to develop a joint EVOC (Emergency Vehicle Operations Course), so officers in different departments receive the same training, he said.
Creating a joint pursuit program has been an on-going issue, Dahle said.
It has popped up again with the recent creation of a joint, Fargo-Moorhead dispatch center, he said.
"Things happen pretty quickly at 100 mph," Argall said.
Before Cass County deputies enter into a chase, they must make a difficult, split second decision whether it's worth it, Argall said.
Deputies usually don't know why the person is trying to evade the law, he said.
Vehicle chases are one of the most dangerous things a police officer does, Dahle said.
When to chase or when not to chase "is a billion dollar question," Argall said.
The important thing is for law enforcement agencies to work together as a community, he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Lisa Schneider at (701) 241-5529