Sallie Peake, Mayor of Wellford, South Carolina, is defending her decision to ban police officers in Wellford from chasing suspects whether by vehicle or pursuit on foot. Mayor Peake claims the ban is necessary due to injuries sustained by officers combined with costly workers’ compensation insurance, giving a whole new meaning to the motto “to protect and serve”.
As reported by WLTX, A memo issued on September 2nd from Mayor Peake to all Wellford officers reads:
“As of this date, there are to be no more foot chases when a suspect runs. I do not want anyone chasing after any suspects whatsoever.”
WSPA, who serves the upstate of South Carolina as well as Asheville, North Carolina, first reported the mandate on Wednesday after an anonymous citizen faxed a copy of the memo to their newsroom.
Peake says she issued the mandate because several officers have been injured during chases, driving up insurance costs for the town.
“The officers are costing us more money on insurance than most citizens here in the city of Wellford are even earning,” says Peake.
She says the city is paying out $20,000 annually in workers’ compensation claims, much of it due to the police force. In July, two officers wrecked their cruisers while chasing suspects and had to go to the hospital for minor treatment. The police chief says three officers have been injured during foot chases in the last two years.
Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright says the policy prevents police from upholding the law-a direct violation of their constitutional oath.
“If a bank robber or a drunk driver or a shoplifter or somebody with a warrant runs on foot, it’s our obligation to do what we can do to bring them to justice,” says Wright.
Wellford Police Chief Chris Guy has told his officers to abide by the policy. He says they can still protect the public.
“Just because a suspect may run does not mean we can’t identify them, sign warrants, and catch them later,” says Guy.
But Sheriff Wright says when a suspect gets away, there is always the chance he could hurt someone before officers catch up with him.
Mayor Peake says that won’t happen in Wellford. Only time will tell what ends up being more costly, the workers comp claims or the risk to Wellford Citizens.
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