Local News

Highway Patrol trains troopers for high speed pursuits

Posted July 31, 2008 8:53 p.m. EDT
Updated August 1, 2008 8:04 p.m. EDT

— High speed pursuits are one of the most dangerous parts of law enforcement. To keep law enforcement officials prepared, the N.C. Highway Patrol trains officers on one of the best closed tracks in the country.

Highway Patrol Sgt. Ricky Stallings said officers can exceed 100 mph on the 85 acre track.

The track provides prospective troopers with a place to learn the skills needed to make a split second decision to begin or end a high speed chase.

“It’s one of the most dangerous things that an officer or trooper will be involved in, when they engaged in a pursuit,” Highway Patrol Lt. Everett Clendenin said.

Highway Patrol officials said officers are more likely to die in a crash than by gunfire.

“I’m sure most citizens think troopers or other law enforcement officers enjoy these types of speed pursuits because of how TV has sensationalized it. Most of them will tell you, they don’t,” Clendenin said.

About half of the time there is a collision involved in a chase, Clendenin said. He said most collisions do not result in a fatality.

Stallings said officers begin a chase never thinking something bad is going to happen. The focus is getting the vehicle stopped and bringing the person to jail, he said.

Lindsay Lunsford, 18, and her sister, Maggie, 9, were killed Dec. 1 when Christopher Ayscue, who was fleeing police, hit their car head on in Granville County. Ayscue, 38, also died.

The Lunsford family is suing Officer Michael Dunlap, as well as Franklinton Police Lt. John Green, Chief Ray Gilliam, the town of Franklinton and Ayscue’s estate.

Investigators said Dunlap chased Ayscue at speeds reaching 90 mph in a 55 mph zone. The lawsuit states that he was reached speeds of up to 103 mph during the 15-mile chase from Franklinton to Creedmoor.

The state Highway Patrol trains officers from jurisdictions around the state and around the country. They also provide training for the military, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Secret Service.