TAMPA, Florida -- High-speed police chases can sometimes end with deadly consequences.
It happened in September 2012 as Pinellas deputies were chasing a man suspected of driving drunk. He crashed into a tree and died. It also happened in July 2011 when an innocent man died when he was t-boned in a high-speed chase.
Now, several Pinellas deputies are in trouble for violating the sheriff's office's high-speed chase policy. In two separate incidents, six members of the Strategic Enforcement section were disciplined, with some getting as much as a 4-day suspension.
The incidents happened in May and June of last year, but the Internal Affairs investigation was completed in mid-December.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said, "We should never pursue for traffic violations. What we have to pursue for, and can pursue for, is if the person is an imminent or ongoing threat to public safety."
But Sheriff Gualtieri said the deputies may have presented an ongoing threat to public safety. The violations include Deputy Kenneth Euler driving over 100 miles an hour on local roadways; Deputy Joshua Jones disregarding traffic control devices, even after losing sight of the suspect vehicle; and a suspect allegedly hitting a patrol car when, in fact, Deputy Alyson Henry struck the suspect's vehicle.
NAACP president Ray Tampa is a critic of high-speed chases and said, "I really want the bad guys arrested, but I don't want them arrested at all cost."
However, Sheriff Gualtieri said every one of the incidents is investigated by a high-speed chase board. He said, "We look at it very closely and we take it very seriously."
And not only did these high-speed pursuits result in discipline for the deputies involved, but the sheriff said the policy in place for such incidents needs to be reviewed as well. Gualtieri said, "We're going to do it ASAP, and we're going to get the policy revised."