SANTA MARIA - A Santa Maria Police pursuit captured by bystander's cell phone camera shows six SMPD patrol cars following a stolen vehicle driven by a wanted parolee through residential streets.
Santa Maria Police eventually called off the pursuit after schools in the area were put in lock down as a safety precaution.
"There comes a point where you have to engage public safety, such as the pursuit yesterday", says Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin, "once the suspect was recognized and we knew who he was, we canceled the pursuit because we think apprehension at a later date is a more viable solution."
Santa Maria Police and other local law enforcement agency pursuits have ended violently, either with a suspect being shot and killed or the pursuing patrol car being totaled, sometimes seriously injuring the officer behind the wheel.
For Santa Maria Police and other agencies, a vehicle pursuit is a delicate, second-by-second balancing act between apprehending a suspect and ensuring public safety.
That's how the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department sees it.
"Is it something that we are going to continue, because the apprehension is that important because the public's at risk", says Sheriff's Dept. spokesperson Sgt. Mark Williams, "or that we're going to terminate the pursuit because its too dangerous."
The CHP has a similar policy.
"If we can identify that subject and later apprehend them at a certain time, we will cancel the pursuit", adds CHP spokesperson Officer Robert Miller.
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