Police, dispatchers honored for top-notch job in 2 pursuits

Cary Ashby • Updated Aug 7, 2017 at 7:23 PM

Many Norwalk police officers and two dispatchers were honored Monday for their top-notch work during two chases in the city.

Chief Dave Light recognized his employees during an informal ceremony and presented them with plaques which honor the way they handled pursuits on July 8 and 18.

“We appreciate all you guys do for the city of Norwalk,” Mayor Rob Duncan told the officers and dispatchers.

Chris Kelley was the officer in charge during the July 8 chase. He at one point called off the pursuit for the sake of public safety, but police resumed chasing the driver after receiving multiple complaints. Norwalk Safety-Service Director Dan Wendt, during a subsequent council meeting, praised the maturity that Kelley showed with his decisions during a “high-adrenaline situation.”

On Monday, Light praised dispatcher Justin Crank for maintaining his composure while a “lot of things were happening at the same time.” He said Kelley had to rely on the information from Crank and the officers on the road — Hayden Service, Nicholas Weber and Jonathan Crabill — in making his decisions about the pursuit.

An officer originally tried to pull over the driver on Milan Avenue because the car had license plates that were registered to another vehicle. The motorist went through city, onto Lovers Lane Road, into southern Erie County and returned to Norwalk. Police have said the suspect nearly caused several crashes and was clocked mostly between 35 to 40 mph.

Service deployed stop sticks, which slowed down the vehicle.

“Great job doing it,” Kelley said.

The driver turned onto Adams Street, a dead-end street, and finally stopped. The suspect then fled on foot, but was apprehended by the Lefty Grove ball fields behind the VFW hall.

The motorist in the July 18 chase ran from the scene of a crash.

“The whole thing only lasted a few minutes,” Light said.

Capt. Eric Hipp was the officer in charge. The dispatcher was Kate Barker and the officers were Weber, Jared Ferris, Seth Kramer, Tim Skinner, Michael Biller and Allan King.

The July 18 incident started about 8:55 p.m. when the suspect stole a vehicle during an incident at 107 E. Main St. Light said the woman was dropping off some passengers and was doing them a favor when the male suspect got out of the car and into the driver’s seat.

“She was trying to reach in to get her keys. … She ended up on the ground,” the chief added.

Skinner clocked the driver going 50 to 55 mph as he drove down West Main Street. Hipp said the suspect turned right onto Vinewood Drive, then went through a yard and fence, cut through a back yard and onto Marian Drive before returning westbound on Main Street. 

“(Hipp) said it looked like somebody who didn’t know how to drive,” Light added.

The suspect attempted to turn left onto South Ohio 61, but hit an eastbound truck. 

“The car flipped over (and) went down the highway on its roof,” Hipp said. “The car slid about 200-some feet on its roof.”

The crash happened about 9 p.m. The suspect fled from the site by jumping over the guardrail and into the nearby golf course.

“We lost sight of him, but apparently he went into the woods,” Hipp said.

Weber’s police dog, Joker, picked up the trail and found the suspect under some dead trees and brushes by the Huron River. Hipp said the man came out, but didn’t follow police orders and swam across the river. Weber ordered Joker to pursue the suspect. Hipp said the dog latched onto the man as he climbed out of the water, where he was arrested.

Duncan came to the station after the pursuit to make sure everyone was OK. The mayor said Barker, the dispatcher, adeptly handled various calls while she explained the situation to him. 

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