New rules give deputies more leeway for chases

Created: 04/28/2014 5:12 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A high speed car chase through the streets of Albuquerque Sunday shows us something – how the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s new rules for vehicle pursuits work in the real world. It’s a change from policies of the past.

Not so long ago a deputy needed to think there was a deadly weapon involved before he or she could initiate a high speed chase. But those are the old rules. The new rules seem to give deputies more leeway when they slam the accelerator and give chase.

Sunday’s chase began at Walter and Dan SE in the city’s South Broadway neighborhood, when the driver of what turned out to be a stolen pickup truck ran a stop sign and a deputy saw it and flipped on the flashers and the siren. The chase continued on Cesar Chavez, I-25 and the frontage streets of Oak and Locust. The truck finally slammed into an SUV at Locust and Central.

Deputies say 33-year-old Alex Trujillo Jr. forced other drivers off the road, running red lights, and “demonstrated he did not care” about any other drivers, his passenger, or himself. Deputies said he pulled a handgun but they managed to take it away from him.

The new Sheriff’s rules, effective at the end of February, say deputies can give chase when the need for an immediate arrest outweighs the danger of pursuit, when the driver is committing a violent felony, or posing an immediate threat to other motorists and the public.

The rules say there will be no pursuit for traffic misdemeanors, unless there is an immediate life threatening danger.

Trujillo is facing a number of charges, including aggravated assault on a peace officer with a deadly weapon, and great bodily injury by a motor vehicle.

The new rules bring the county deputies close to the pursuit rules of the Albuquerque Police Department, which say it’s only allowed when the officer has reasonable grounds to think the offender presents a clear and immediate serious threat to the safety of other drivers and the public.

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