Increasing number of pursuits causing concern in Crawford County

CRAWFORD COUNTY, Kan. – The number of police pursuits has been on the rise in Crawford County and that’s causing concern with law enforcement. We spoke with the Crawford County Sheriff and the Pittsburg Police Department about the situation.

They start almost anywhere, sometimes in Joplin, sometimes in Oklahoma, sometimes, in Crawford County. They involve crimes that took place almost anywhere. Like this pursuit from last week, which began in Crawford County, ended in Barton County, and involved a stolen vehicle out of Joplin. Crawford County Sheriff Danny Smith says “It puts the public at risk, it puts officers at risk, of course the individual that’s fleeing at risk, it’s just not a good situation to be in.”

Sheriff smith says that risk could easily be avoided. “If these people would just stop, if they’re going to get arrested on their warrant, take care of it like anybody else does, it’s not worth any injury or death for these individuals.”

As we mentioned, sometimes these pursuits cross state lines, sometimes, they stay in the county, but enter city limits, like Pittsburg. Pittsburg’s deputy police chief says that’s when communication between agencies becomes vital. Pittsburg Deputy Police Chief Ben Henderson says “Sometimes it’s good to be there to help because we’re officers of this city, so we’re familiar with the side streets, the alleys, the number blocks, so being able to get a location is more beneficial, but our primary concern of course is the safety of the public.”

Henderson adds that unlike traffic crashes, or other situations, you can’t warn the public. “Unfortunately through social media and other warning avenues, these things happen so quick and sometimes they’re done almost as fast as they start so, we’re not able to get a message out there quick enough via social media to warn people of the location of a pursuit.”

Three pursuits happened in the county in September, two in one day, all, involving stolen vehicles. Sheriff Smith says the majority of the pursuits involve stolen vehicles, which means, the majority of them, can be stopped…by you. “It’s just one of those things that’s very preventable and we would love for people to secure their belongings, lock their vehicles up.”

Sheriff Smith says with winter coming up he knows drivers will be wanting to pre-heat their cars, but he says, that could be a risk you don’t want to take.