A high-speed chase by suburban police officers onto the streets of Cleveland early Friday morning has raised new questions about the safety of pursuits.
At 3 a.m., police in Parma and surrounding suburbs tried to stop a white Cadillac driven by an OVI suspect, who had been pulled over by police in North Royalton and decided to make a run for it.
The pursuit went on for 46 minutes as the suspect tried to outmaneuver local police and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Once in Cleveland, the suspect upped the ante by accelerating down residential streets, running stop signs, red lights and, at times, going the wrong way.
Still, officers from North Royalton and other departments continued the pursuit until they were finally able to stop the vehicle at Fulton and Denison on Cleveland’s west side.
The suspect, Michael Jelinek, 34, of Strongsville, was arrested on charges that include OVI; a dog he had in the car was turned over to an animal shelter.
The city of North Royalton is examining if the officer in the lead car followed pursuit policies, but the department says it appears he felt the driver posed a threat to public safety and had to be stopped.
“Well, in itself, the DUI and what they had observed prior to the DUI, I’m sure they felt there was a danger to the others on the road this night,” Detective Dave Loeding told FOX 8.
Cleveland City Councilman Brian Cummins says an examination of the play by play of the 46-minute pursuit raises serious questions about the decision to continue the pursuit into the neighborhoods of Cleveland.
“Anything could happen when you’re traveling 70 miles an hour down a 25 or 35 mile an hour residential street; that’s really dangerous,” Cummins said.
This is the type of pursuit that the city of Cleveland no longer allows its own officers to be involved in, but the city continues to allow outside agencies to continue to chase suspects throughout the city.
Councilman Cummins says the pursuit illustrates the need for a uniform policy for police agencies across Cuyahoga County, with clear standards for when a suspect vehicle should be chased, and when the pursuit should be called off.
Cummins said, “Unless it was associated with a code one, weapons, homicide, etc., I don’t see why there would be any reason for our city to allow that type of pursuit by an outside agency.”
Cleveland city officials have tried before to establish a uniform pursuit policy, but could never get all of the agencies to agree.