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Prevent Chases At High Speed

When suspects in vehicles flee from law enforcement officers, they endanger themselves, police and innocent bystanders. It has happened at least three times in our area during the past few weeks.

On Saturday night, a Wheeling man wanted in Belmont County allegedly led multiple law enforcement officers on a chase that began in Wheeling and did not end until the suspect allegedly lost control of his car and got hung up in a yard near Dallas. Speeds in the chase may have exceeded 100 mph.

On Monday, Ohio authorities found themselves trying to stop a driver fleeing in a pickup truck. The pursuit went from Interstate 70 at Morristown to Ohio 7 in Bellaire, where the truck flipped over. The driver and a passenger were injured.

Just as the annual Christmas parade was ending on the night of Nov. 16, police attempted to stop a vehicle in Center Wheeling. In it were two South Carolina men and another from Columbus. A chase through the downtown area — with many who attended the parade still present — ensued. Police managed to stop the car; its occupants face drug-related charges.

What if the fleeing driver had lost control and hit some of those, including children, who had just enjoyed the parade?

Or what if the suspect Saturday night or the one Monday had lost control at high speed on Interstate 70 and slammed into a car full of people on their way home from a Thanksgiving gathering?

All of those involved in the three chases face multiple charges. Under no circumstances should those that involve fleeing from police be dropped.

Anyone convicted of leading law enforcement officers or deputies on a high-speed chase — especially where the route is lined by pedestrians — ought to be punished as severely as the law permits.

In fact, legislators in both our states ought to take a look at maximum penalties for such crimes. Perhaps increasing the punishment — with judges throwing the book at offenders — would deter some people from endangering law enforcement officers and the public by fleeing from pursuers.

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