Special Report: Inside high-speed chases - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Special Report: Inside high-speed chases

Agencies like the Albany Police Department have a different policy on chases due to more populated areas. Agencies like the Albany Police Department have a different policy on chases due to more populated areas.
As a chase is underway, officers communicate with each other about what major intersections are ahead. As a chase is underway, officers communicate with each other about what major intersections are ahead.
Officers spend months training for specific chase situations. Officers spend months training for specific chase situations.
Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock is a former state trooper and expert on police chase techniques. Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock is a former state trooper and expert on police chase techniques.
Lieutenant Terrence Whitlock with Albany Police Department Lieutenant Terrence Whitlock with Albany Police Department
CRISP CO., GA (WALB) -

The men and women in blue are sometimes forced into high speed, dangerous chases - putting innocent lives in danger to get criminals off the streets.

But what happens before and during the chase?

"We know we've got to get on the radio. We know we've got to look at the weather conditions. We know we've got to look at the traffic conditions," said Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock.

There are minutes, hours, days, and months spent training for those specific situations.

"It's constant training," he said.

Sheriff Billy Hancock is a former state trooper and expert on police chase techniques.

"It is something that you must train on today; you must review it tomorrow; you must review it the next day. It has to become muscle memory."

What the policy says

His office engages in pursuits more often due to their proximity to Interstate 75. A review of his office's chase policy showed that his deputies have the authority to chase drivers for any reason, but that decision must be made quickly.

"They have to look at situations at hand and they have to make a decision exactly and hope that they're right," explained Sheriff Hancock.

But other departments in more populated areas, such as the Albany Police Department, have a different policy.

"You never want to put a citizen in danger for a minor traffic violation. Vehicles are dangerous. Vehicles are as dangerous as a weapon," said Lieutenant Terrence Whitlock.

Certain circumstances and crimes do warrant a chase though.

Earlier this year, an armed robber led authorities from several agencies on a wild, multi-county chase, and Albany Police officers were involved at every intersection - making sure the public was safe.

"You have to move actually be in emergency mode to actually get to those locations to stop traffic," said Lt. Whitlock.

What an officer is thinking

Part of it is figuring out where you are on the road.

Thick traffic and stop lights make chases very unsafe - jeopardizing innocent lives.

"Those eyes have got to be moving to the intersections. They've got to be looking for pedestrians. They've got to be looking for automobiles," said Sheriff Hancock.

All of these things are done while traveling at high speeds, making focus even more important.

"It's draining. It's tiring, but you have to be aware that other people lives are in jeopardy so you have to continue," said Lt. Whitlock.

That makes the knowledge of the policies and preparation for a chase the most important thing.

MORE: See the policies from these agencies

Georgia State Patrol

Crisp County Sheriff's Office

Albany Police Department

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