Caught in Monday’s Police Chase, I Now Wonder is it worth it

On Monday afternoon I made a snap decision, as I’m known to sometimes do.  Heading south out of downtown, I thought it would be cool to take my son to Celebration Station in Mesquite, so we headed East on Interstate 30.  I set the budget at…well cheap, and figured we’d get in and out pretty quick.  But a funny thing (not so funny in hindsight) happened on our way there.

As we started getting closer to Jim Miller Road, I noticed Dallas County Constables parked at the off ramps and standing outside of their cars.  When I looked up and saw helicopters, I started putting two and two together and figured there must be a chase in progress.

It was about that time that I started hearing a police siren.  Looking in my rearview mirror, I saw that it wasn’t a law enforcement vehicle approaching from behind, but a grey colored Nissan that was followed by a lone squad car.  I really didn’t have much time to react as I drove in one of the center lanes, but both vehicles passed us to the right.

“They didn’t seem to be going very fast for a chase,” I told my son, as I estimated that they were traveling a little less than 70 miles per hour.  After seeing the video later I saw that that was the only time the suspect Shane Michael was driving less that 80. We started a conversation about why someone may be chased by police and followed by helicopters, when I started to hear more sirens.

This time when I glanced in my mirror I saw a slew of squad cars.  It seemed to me that there were about 9 cars barreling down on us.  “What do I do,” I thought in the 8 seconds or so that this second portion lasted.  “Should I move right?”  Because we were coming around a curve it was hard to judge exactly which lane they were in.  “Should I slow down?”  It felt like they would run right through me if I did.

I can’t say what I did, but I know that some cars went right and some went left as motorists around me seemed to struggle with the same questions.  After these cars passed I figured that the suspect was probably headed towards Rockwall County by now until I saw the helicopters headed north.

I started taking a deep breath (all while my son played Nintendo DS in the backseat) and replaying the situation in my head when Act III began.  By now we were just about to get onto 635 South in Mesquite when I looked back and saw three more cop cars headed in our direction.  I don’t even want to speculate how fast these guys were driving.

The problem at this point was that motorists were in the process of selecting one of the 635 exits there was no time to process where the squad cars were headed.  It seemed like the three cars were headed at us from every direction.  They all passed on the left and then made their way right to the 635 North exit.  One had to go all the way out to the far left lane and make his way back right in order to make the exit.

After they passed, a motorist next to me and I looked at one another like “What’s next?”  I sat still on the shoulder for about 10 seconds looking around before I continued on our trip.  I sent out a Tweet asking for help on the status of the chase my Facebook friends kept me up to speed, up until this final comment:


I may not have revisited this scenario were it not for a story filed by Rebecca Lopez on WFAA 8 a couple of nights ago regarding police chases.  She contrasted the Dallas Police Department’s current chase policy where they have stopped chasing nonviolent criminals to Dallas County Constables who do.

Lopez reports that this has resulted in a decrease from 354 police chases in 2005 to 39 police chases in 2008.  The number of people injured in DPD chases also went down from 77 in 2005 to 10 in 2008.  Dallas Police figured that the danger posed to motorists and officers by chasing nonviolent criminals was too great.

I can’t say what the correct call is for Dallas County Constables and State Troopers, but I can say that Monday’s chase presented a dangerous situation.  A panicked driver could have easily make a wrong move and caused a chain reaction, even miles behind the actual chase.  On the surface, it seems like adopting the Dallas Police Police -or something close- would be a no brainer for Dallas County.

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