Last Thursday was doing its best to be a lazy afternoon until panic erupted over the police scanner. A deputy was on his way to serve an arrest warrant when the suspect decided he had no intentions of going to jail and sped away in his car.
What followed was witnessed by many members of our community as this suspect led officers, many officers, on a chase down rural roads to the downtown streets of McMinnville.
There were many terrifying moments from eyewitnesses I've talked to over the past week, but perhaps the worst was when the suspect decided to weave in and out of cars on two-lane Sparta Street as he passed Wendy's. From what I understand, this included several near misses as he zoomed down Sparta Street, traveled under the underpass, and turned left onto Durham Street.
He was finally stopped by spike strips on Beersheba Street after disobeying probably every traffic law in the book and endangering the well-being of dozens of motorists.
This would be alarming if not for the fact it's becoming rather ordinary. It's hard to pick up a court docket, any court docket, and not find at least one person charged with evading arrest in a motor vehicle.
In this day of light sentencing and letting people out of jail for counseling and rehabilitation, this is probably not a politically correct statement. But I believe these motorists who choose to run from the law and put the lives of others on the road in jeopardy need to receive harsh sentences. Very harsh.
I don't claim this to be an original idea. Sheriff Tommy Myers put this thought in my head when I quoted him in a recent story. The sheriff knows as well as anybody how dangerous these fleeing suspects are to society, often driving at speeds of 100 mph in an effort to escape officers.
I completely agree with our sheriff and think anyone who decides to run from officers should be given a minimum sentence of 11 months, 29 days in jail. No plea bargains allowed.
As it stands now, anyone who ever watched "The Dukes of Hazzard" or "Smokey and the Bandit" is trying to outrun the law and it's putting all of us at risk. One suspect who was on the run crashed into a 75-year-old lady in the Mt. Leo area and sent her to the hospital. Another smashed a motorist at the intersection in front of McMinnville Funeral Home.
Another suspect crashed atop Harrison Ferry Mountain, while still another ended up putting his car on its roof while wrecking in a cow pasture off Jessie Road in the Midway area.
If we start tossing people in jail for a year at a time, it will serve as a reminder to pull over when you see flashing lights, not speed away and endanger everyone in your path.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.