Friday, April 13, 2012

The pursuit and capture of Cody Dobyns by Monett Police on April 5 included several noteworthy points.

Dobyns is accused of driving a stolen car into Monett and eluding officers in a high speed chase. Two Monett police cars were rammed by Dobyns as he tried to escape. Taxpayers end up bearing the cost on damage to city property. Damaging a police car hurts the public in general.

City Administrator Dennis Pyle said the damage on each of the cars is about $1,000. The city will pay the costs out of available funds rather than file an insurance claim that would affect future rates, on a policy that has a $1,000 deductible.

The most significant part of the story came when Dobyns went roaring into town at speeds around 100 miles per hour. The officer in charge of the pursuit ordered his colleagues to back off from those speeds. They continued following but not in an aggressive manner that would further alarm their subject and possibly encourage even higher speeds.

This was a tremendously sane and respectful strategy.

We have seen a high speed chase into Monett result in the death of the pursued driver. Cities are full of streets that become surprising at high speeds. Other motorists and pedestrians finding themselves in the middle of such a chase do not know what to do. Any action of theirs could be the wrong one.

A driver locked in escape mode is probably not thinking very clearly anyway and is already weighing the odds of success in each maneuver. The longer the chase goes, the more times a choice seems to work, the more risks a desperate person may take.

Monett officers made the right choice in backing away from a chase at very high speeds, a dangerous situation for them and everyone else. The odds were in favor of them making more good decisions that would lead to a favorable outcome for them.

The other great decision officers made was to launch a parallel pursuit down a county road as Mr. Dobyns headed west from Monett. An interception followed on Farm Road 1050 as Mr. Dobyns attempted to flee to the south. This was a textbook maneuver by the officer to block most of the road and give the ongoing driver a moment to think about his next act.

Dobyns tried to drive around but lost control and crashed.

What he may not have known is that Farm Road 1050 a bit farther south has a hairpin turn in it. Had Dobyns approached that turn at a high rate of speed, he could easily have been killed. The officer's move may have saved his life.

Trained police officers are human and can make mistakes in high stress situations. Restraint is often the second choice, after trying more effort or force. Monett officers deserve commendation for taking a more cautious approach in pursuing Mr. Dobyns, and it all came out right in the end.