South Congaree, SC (Paul Kirby) – A vehicle pursuit that initiated in Richland County Saturday ended in the town of South Congaree with two suspects in custody. The pursuit initiated when the car the suspects were in had its tag run by a Richland County deputy and it came back stolen from another vehicle.
The pursuit entered into Lexington County after officers with the Cayce Department of Public Safety received word that the Richland County deputies were chasing a car whose driver had refused to yield for a traffic stop. Cayce officers closely monitored the pursuit that appeared to be headed their way.
The suspects did eventually cross into the City of Cayce where their officers looked for an opportune place to deploy their tire deflation devices to bring the pursuit to an end. Using these are not as simple as throwing them across the road in front of a fleeing car. An officer must get far enough ahead of a fleeing suspect to deploy them safely at just the right moment and place. The safety of other motorist, the officer throwing or unrolling the sticks, and the suspect’s ability to just drive around them all play a part. As this driver was bobbing and weaving through some of Cayce’s normally quiet streets, avenues, neighborhoods, and parts of the business district, it was soon evident that no such appropriate spot could be predicted that chasing officers could herd the driver into. Eventually, the suspect realized that the well-trained deputies pursuing couldn’t be shaken by using turns and he got back on Charleston Highway headed south toward Gaston.
At some point the driver steered onto Fish Hatchery Road. By this time, as The Lexington Ledger posted updates to the pursuit to warn citizens and residents of its general direction via social media, followers begin updating those post with their own information as the fleeing driver and the parade of law enforcement officers passed them. It was one of these citizens who reported that the pursuit had turned onto Pine Ridge Drive heading toward South Congaree. Within seconds of the suspect crashing the fleeing car at the flagpole of Congaree Elementary School, a follower sent us a photograph of the car and all the cruisers from across the river surrounding it. According to Chief Josh Shumpert of the South Congaree Police Department, two suspects were quickly taken into custody without further complications or a danger to the public.
With the advent of in car computer systems, it has become common practice for law enforcement officers to routinely run license tags when in traffic, when vehicles stop at a traffic signal, or in many other instances. This can literally be done in seconds and the officer’s computer will give them the description of the vehicle that plate is supposed to be on through their computer’s speakers without the operator even having to look back at their screen. As an example, if the tag is registered to a red Ford pickup but it is on a black sedan, the officer immediately knows something isn’t right and they need to investigate further.
Chief Dennis Tindall of the West Columbia Police Department also pioneered the use of automatic plate readers in Lexington County many years ago with that technology paid for by a grant. Some of his cars are equipped with these special cameras on their trunk lids and as they drive, they automatically read plates, run them through a database, and alert officers if the tag of vehicle is reported stolen. If it is still on a stolen vehicle, not only the plate but the vehicle it’s affixed to can often be recovered quickly and safely.
Chief Byron Snellgrove of the Cayce Department of Public Safety said once on Good Morning Lexington County that quickly identifying these stolen plates and vehicles is extremely important. He said that many of these plates or stolen vehicles are often used in far more serious crimes and then simply dumped somewhere. They can be of value as evidence in those crimes or if the timing is right, the perpetrators could be taken into custody before the more dangerous and serious crime is committed.