Low-speed chase halted for reasons of safety

On Jan. 29 at about 8 p.m. I saw Central Point and Medford police cars driving together on the north end of Medford. They looked like they were chasing someone, but I couldn't tell. Was there a high-speed police chase through Medford and I missed it? I didn't see anything in the Mail Tribune about this.

— Kris K., Medford

You didn't miss any excitement, Kris. But there was a brief chase that failed to reach the high speeds you'd see in a typical Michael Bay movie.

Officers in Central Point attempted to stop a white Chevrolet Tahoe with California license plates that evening. Instead of pulling over for the officers, however, the Tahoe driver punched the gas and sped away, according to Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau.

The Tahoe soon entered Medford and was driving on Highway 238 for a brief time. It then veered off into west Medford. Medford officers tracked the Tahoe as it drove down Oak Street off West Jackson. The Tahoe also was spotted near McLoughlin Middle School on West Second Street, but by that time the officers stopped pursuing for safety reasons, Budreau said.

"It was never a high-speed chase, but the suspect driver didn't appear to want to stop," Budreau said.

The driver was not wanted for a serious violent crime, which is why officers were ordered to end the pursuit, Budreau said.

"We won't take risks if it's just someone driving away from a routine traffic stop," Budreau said. "Most of the time when people run from us, they have a warrant."

Many agencies across the country are scaling back their pursuits, Budreau said.

"A car is a 4,000-pound bullet that can seriously injure or kill someone," Budreau said. "Unless the suspect is considered a danger, we won't pursue them through the city."

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com.

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