I TEAM: exclusive video raises questions about police chases in Cleveland

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CLEVELAND - The FOX 8 I TEAM has obtained exclusive video of two recent chases by the Ohio Highway Patrol into Cleveland that led us to investigate.

We looked into why we see state troopers chase vehicles again and again into Cleveland when city police rarely chase anyone.

Video just released by the Patrol shows officers in a long chase two weeks ago with a suspected drunk driver that began on the highway and ended on narrow, inner city streets on Cleveland’s west side.

In a case last weekend, troopers chased a vehicle to East 55th and St. Clair in Cleveland. Surveillance video from a nearby store shows that car barreling into gas pumps. The patrol says that driver had sped off from a traffic stop on the highway.

Meantime, Cleveland Police often do not chase suspects even after serious crimes. That, fallout from a 2012 chase that turned deadly. Since then, Cleveland officers have been under tighter restrictions.

Patrol Lieutenant Rob Gable said, “We will chase people that run. We have policies and procedures in place. We are constantly evaluating traffic and speed.”

In fact, in the chase with the suspected drunk driver, radio transmissions show the trooper repeatedly updating traffic conditions and speed. Ultimately, state troopers put down spikes for the driver to run over, and that punctured the tires.

So, that chase ended as a slow-speed pursuit. Still, the sight of troopers with flashing lights behind a vehicle on city streets can be a surprise. Tamara Perkins was driving the opposite direction when the patrol was behind the suspected drunk driver on West 48th. She said, "The SUV was like, literally, an arm's length away. I could touch it on the tip of my fingers. Next thing you see is the flashing lights And I swear they were gonna hit me head on. It was extremely terrifying."

The patrol points out, most drivers running from them aren’t just doing it because of something like a tail light out. There’s usually more to it. For instance, the drunk driving suspect was found to be driving with a suspended license for driving drunk before.
That’s why Cleveland Police get frustrated when their bosses don’t allow them to chase more often.

For a while, state troopers were doing more enforcement in Cleveland, writing more tickets. But records show the number of trooper tickets in Cleveland has fallen sharply as the Patrol is focusing on other areas.