Pursuit policies vary across Horry County law enforcement agenci - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Pursuit policies vary across Horry County law enforcement agencies

Horry County, SC -

Most of us know, when you see those blue lights in your rear view mirror, it's time to pull over. But for those that decide to ignore the law and keep going, you may or may not be pursued depending on where you are or why you're wanted.

At least four chases have been initiated by Horry County law enforcement agencies in just the last several weeks.

"People get a little disconnected behind the wheel. They feel invincible," Horry County Police Lt. Raul Denis said.

One recent chase turned deadly when the suspect crashed into a power pole off Highway 905.

"I've been a police officer for over 20 years now and I've never ever seen that pay off. I've never seen that be the right decision," Denis said.

No matter their reason for running, a suspect's crime plays a major role in their pursuit.

"its a totality of the circumstances thing," Denis said. "We have to understand the whole scene, not only what that original violation was, but also if we can get an identification, if we can get a license plate, try to figure out who's in that car and why they may be running."

However, not every agency works the same.

According to the Horry County Police Department's policy, officers can pursue a vehicle for known wanted criminal offenders and traffic violators who fail to yield to proper notice.

But other agencies have much more narrow policies.

Myrtle Beach Police Department's policy requires that the suspect have committed or attempted to commit a felony that involves the use or threat of physical force or violence to a person.

For Conway Police, their policy simply requires that the suspect be accused of a felony.

"The departments have different chase policies and different practices for the most part they are pretty standard," Denis said. "You have to look at the totality of what's going on. You have to be aware of the danger that a chase entails and the danger to the public."

Local agencies also differ on how far their chases can continue.

For Myrtle Beach and Conway, officers cannot pursue a vehicle three miles outside of city limits. However, Horry County police can go much farther, as far as they need to go, given permission from their supervisor. As soon as the chase passes state lines though, officers must stop.

In the end though, it's a team effort across jurisdictions.

"It's scary, and it's extremely visual because you're moving so fast, so many things can go wrong," Denis said. We've been fortunate that we haven't had any major incidents because of our chases."

The most important aspect of all the policies is safety, whether that be public safety or the officer's or the suspect's.

Two agencies we didn't mention in our story were the Horry County Sheriff's Office and the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

HCSO actually doesn't have a policy at this point, but officials say in these situation they usually play more assisting roles.

We requested the SCHP's policy last week but have still not heard back at this time.

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