Yesterday in the Fargo area law enforcement was trying to serve a warrants on a man suspected of dealing meth. He fled, leading police on a chase that ended at the West Acres Mall in Fargo. Along the way, the chase went across the Village Green Golf Course in Moorhead.
The guy was ultimately caught and arrested (after putting West Acres in lockdown), and so we can all laugh about the absurdity of a car chase across a golf course, but here’s a question: Should the police have chased this guy so…thoroughly?
There was significant property damage at the golf course, and I’m guessing elsewhere along the chase route as well, but more importantly there was also risk to human life. According to WDAY television, the chase went through a construction zone putting workers there in danger:
The chase went through the construction zone on 25th Street South and I-94, almost hitting several workers. Police say the Bureau of Criminal Investigation was trying to serve outstanding meth distribution warrants on 33-year-old Kendall Feist. He’s wanted for a series of thefts in Grafton. Feist took off with a passenger in the car. They led police right through the Village Green Golf course, damaging several fairways.
It sounds as though Mr. Feist may be guilty of some serious crimes, not the least of which is leading police on this chase, but was catching Feist worth the danger to the public in this instance?
There’s a fine line between law enforcement diligence in apprehending a criminal and unacceptable risk to the public. If someone had been run over during this police chase, would that have been an acceptable cost for catching this alleged drug dealer?
Update: The Fargo Forum reports that Moorhead Police said they backed off the suspect when he entered the golf course, which clearly isn’t true per the video above:
Police stopped chasing Feist when he entered the golf course because of the danger to others in the area, according to a news release from the Moorhead Police Department.
“We obviously have to weigh the need to apprehend the fugitive … versus the safety of the public,” said Moorhead police Sgt. Scott Kostohryz.
I’m guest hosting on WDAY AM970 this morning, and a member of the news team told me that the Moorhead police this morning are not denying that they chased the suspect onto the golf course. They’re blaming that initial report on a police official who wasn’t fully briefed on the situation.