GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes discussed in a press release Wednesday morning several changes to the sheriff's office pursuit policy following a deadly high-speed crash on Battleground Avenue in September.
According to Barnes, the new policy "strongly and further emphasizes the public safety factors" that a deputy has to consider during a pursuit. In addition, GCSO is initiating a new vehicle pursuit training program, which will be mandatory for all deputies who may need to engage in vehicle pursuits.
Several training factors include:
- What lawful purposes do pursuits serve?
- Preemptive ways to avoid pursuits from starting in the first place
- Techniques to bring an early end to a pursuit that has already started
- When does a fleeing vehicle cross the line and become a weapon or tool of deadly force?
- When are officers lawfully authorized and justified to use deadly force to end a pursuit and what types of deadly force may lawfully be employed?
- Subsequent investigative actions to be taken to identify the driver if a pursuit is terminated and the suspect escapes
These changes stem from when the victims' families ask the sheriff's office to review its pursuit policy.
The crash happened on Sept. 30 after Deputy C. Lineback started chasing a car that was reported stolen. The driver took off, then crashed into another car on Battleground Avenue near Summerfield. Five people were killed in the crash.
The occupants of the stolen vehicle were identified as Deshon Lee Manuel, 42; Theresa Monique Kingcade, 34; and Bruce Wayne Hunt, 40. All were from Greensboro.
The occupants of the other vehicle were identified as Allie Bolick, 29, and Stephanie Warshauer, 32.
Barnes maintains that the deputy acted in compliance with pursuit protocol.
The lawyer representing Stephanie and Allie's families also released a statement on the decision:
The families of Stephanie Warshauer and Allie Bolick would like to express their gratitude to Sheriff Barnes and the entire Sheriff’s department for coming together and implementing positive, real change in this chase policy. Our concerns have always been with the safety of Guilford County residents and the brave law enforcement officers who protect them on a daily basis. We feel that these policy revisions accomplish that and appreciate their commitment to adhere to these new policies.