Kent Police respond to critics of pursuit of woman with stolen check

Agency’s Facebook page post about incident receives complaints, praise

The Kent Police Department posted a statement on its Facebook page on Monday about its pursuit policy after numerous comments from people who criticized the agency for a vehicle chase on Saturday of a woman who reportedly tried to cash a stolen check at a store.

The 32-year-old woman fled police in her vehicle from Safeway, 210 Washington Ave. S., at about 8:20 a.m., according to police. The chase continued on South 212th Street where the woman crossed into oncoming traffic and hit another car head on near Frager Road South.

Paramedics transported the woman to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in critical condition, according to police. A person in the other car involved in the collision sustained minor injuries. As of Tuesday, police spokesman Jarod Kasner said he didn’t have an updated condition report about the woman. He said police will not release the woman’s name until charges have been filed against her.

Officers placed spike strips along South 212th Street in an effort to stop the fleeing driver, but she drove around them and into oncoming traffic.

“Spike strips and a chase over a bad check? Everyone (including KPD) is lucky the person hit in the head on collision isn’t more seriously injured or worse,” according to a comment on the Kent Police Facebook page. “Big fan of law enforcement. Family is on the job and I support your levies but this incident has me puzzled.”

Another person posted:

“There is never a reason to create a dangerous situation over a non-violent crime. Period. I live in Kent and if I had been hit by someone fleeing over a stolen check, I’d be pissed. At her and everyone who had a hand in creating the situation.”

Police then posted the following message:

“We appreciate all the perspectives on this issue and we thank all of you for your comments. Public Safety is our top priority and we continually balance the need to take criminals into custody with the risk to the public and we work hard to keep that risk to the absolute minimum. We invest in a lot of training of our officers, but as you all can understand these incidents rapidly evolve and we can’t always control the outcome. It might surprise many of you to know that the vast majority of the pursuits we initiate are self terminated by the pursuing officer or supervisor on duty. Another percentage of the pursuits are successfully stopped by officers using pursuit intervention techniques and spike strips.

“Additionally, each and every pursuit is reviewed by our command staff and the chief to ensure the pursuit was conducted within the law and our department policy. Our commitment to all of you is that we will review the facts and circumstances in this incident and determine what if anything we can learn to improve.”

People also posted comments in favor of the pursuit.

“Thank you for still doing police work. Criminals are taking advantage of agencies that won’t chase. Sorry for the victim but sometimes it happens.”

Another post noted officers have to react quickly.

“Tough choices have to be made in a second. Rules and regulations followed. With the information they had, they made the best decision they could. That the criminal chose to risk lives by driving into traffic isn’t something that can be expected. Until there is evidence of wrong doing on the officers part, I will support their educated decisions and not second guess them because I wasn’t there and I don’t have the benefit of all of the details. To judge without that is unnecessary.”

Another comment appreciated the police department’s post.

“Thank you for a commitment to review this incident. Please also commit to a deeper review of the pursuit policy itself.”

Another comment supported the pursuit.

“Kent Police Department you do an amazing job and I appreciate you getting criminals off the street.”

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