Report: York Police Chief and Lt. violated department pursuit - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Report: York Police Chief and Lt. violated department pursuit policies

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York Police Chief Andy Robinson (Photo source: YorkCitySC.com) York Police Chief Andy Robinson (Photo source: YorkCitySC.com)

A York Police internal review has concluded four officers, including the Police Chief and a lieutenant, violated department policies during a high speed chase that registered speed more than a 100mph.

City officials have not revealed what, if any, disciplinary actions were administered against any of the four.

On April 4th, York Police spotted a car that had been reported stolen. When police eventually caught the driver - Jacob Floyd Bailey - events after his arrest led to an investigation into York's Police Chief's use of force. South Carolina's Law Enforcement Division {SLED}conducted the investigation. The results have not been made public.

York Police and city officials reviewed the police pursuit that weaved through the city.

In his review of Chief Andy Robinson's actions, City Manager Charles Helms said Chief Robinson violated policies because he "failed to assume command of the pursuit, failed to terminate the pursuit while being the primary officer, and failed to balance the need for the suspect's apprehension with the potential danger to the officer, suspect, and community."

"The leader was the police chief. The police chief was there. The police chief was involved in the pursuit. He ignored our own pursuit policies" York's Mayor Edward Lee said in a telephone interview with WBTV. "It was excessive. There was no leadership displayed and it went well beyond the jurisdiction of the city of York."

Lt Dale Edwards initiated the pursuit.

The review found Lt Edwards "made a reasonable attempt to pursue the vehicle, but the vehicle continued to increase its speed and Lt. Edwards followed into the county."

At one point Lt. Edwards "pursued the vehicle at over 100 mph with the vehicle out of sight."

The review said Edwards hit extremely high speeds for basically no reason, and even ran a red light at 100 miles an hour. The report called Edwards' actions "extremely hazardous and negligent."

The review said during the pursuit, "speeds and other information was not relayed  to dispatch, speeds were excessive, the pursuit was out-weighed by the danger to the public but continues, mirroring the suspects driving caused excessive danger to the public, the pursuit continued after losing sight of the vehicle for almost two minutes, Lt Edwards re-engaged the pursuit in the county, and no clear instructions were given to two rookie officers who were involved by Lt Edwards - who was the supervisor."

Mayor Lee said "this was a serious matter and it could have resulted in the deaths of innocent people who were caught up in this chase."

Police officials said, in the review, that "there were at least 3 times the pursuit should have been ended per policy by mandatory means outlined in the policy."

Two rookie officers also took part in the high speed chase.

One police official told WBTV it was the first police pursuit for the rookies and they weren't supervised properly during the chase - they were acting on their supervisor's orders.

Mayor Lee said "now this report confirms that disciplinary action should have been taken as soon as the administrators of our city learned of the pursuit. It violated the City of York's pursuit policy. It endangered lives, including the officers' own lives."

Mayor Lee has called for the Chief to be placed on administrative leave. 

WBTV watched the video from the police car's dash camera, and obtained a copy of the officer's incident report about the pursuit.

According to the incident report, police spotted a Buick that had been reported stolen.

In the report Lt Edwards said he "activated his blue lights and the vehicle sped away." He then activated his "siren and began a pursuit of the vehicle."

The officer, in a marked cruiser, said "traffic was average for this time of day and in this area. The weather was clear and the road condition was good. There were no pedestrian traffic."

Video from the police cruiser's dash camera shows the driver of the Buick weaving in and out traffic.

 According to the report, the chase registered speeds "in excess 100 miles per hour. At points reaching above 120."

WBTV requested a copy of York Police pursuit policy.

The Policy and Procedures manual says it's the department's policy "to regulate the pursuit of fleeing vehicles and carefully balance the need for the suspect's apprehension with the potential danger to the officer, suspect and community."

No injuries were reported.

Department officials couldn't comment on "whether the crime warranted the pursuit over 100mph" because of the review process.

Police said "there is no top speed in policy for a pursuit. We are reviewing the pursuit based on policy, looking for violations of the policy and whether the pursuit was justified."

Police officials said a lieutenant "was the only officer involved in the first part of the pursuit. Chief Robinson was the primary in the 2ND part of the pursuit."

"The lieutenant joined back in toward the end of the pursuit. Two other officers joined shortly and stopped toward the end of the pursuit."

During the chase, the lieutenant can be heard telling the dispatcher to "notify Rock Hill City" that the driver was headed in that direction.

York's pursuit policy states that officers can pursue a fleeing vehicle with "the city limits of York and three miles beyond. Supervisors may extend jurisdiction to anywhere within the boundaries of York County if the crime and situation justify such extension. The pursuit cannot be extended outside the boundaries of York County."

York Police confirmed the pursuit "did go outside the city limits". However, city officials said they weren't sure of the exact number of miles outside city limits. Police officials estimate "maybe 7 or 8."

The incident report said "York County officers became involved in the pursuit with this Buick."

Rock Hill Police told WBTV the chase did not enter their jurisdiction, and their officers did not assist.

York Police said the review of the pursuit is standard department procedure.

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