Behind the Badge: What officers are thinking during high-speed pursuits

Behind the Badge

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Just about every day in Middle Tennessee, a law enforcement officer will engage a motorist who decides to run from the law. 

In that moment, the officer must decide to chase or not to chase. 

Veteran officers spoke to News 2 about what goes into initiating a chase and what’s going through an officer’s mind in the middle of a high-speed pursuit. 

Fast, furious, dangerous, hair-raising. 

Just a few words that represent just a fraction of some of the dramatic chases News 2 has documented across Middle Tennessee recently 

From Cheatham County’s chase of an excavator to Spring Hill’s chase that ended in a fiery crash to a Hendersonville police chasing teens who drove into a building. 

“We don’t like pursuing vehicles,” said Det. Sgt. Christopher Gagnon with Hendersonville police. 

Some of these high-octane events end without incident though many more end in dramatic fashion. 

“I know when I first started it was catch the bad guy at all costs,” explained Sheriff Dusty Rhoades.  

Some agencies are inclined to chase bad guys while other jurisdictions are more reluctant to initiate a high-speed chase.  

“It is not worth risking a life,” said Gallatin Police Chief Don Bandy. 

“It’s just not worth the collateral damage you can cause,” added Gallatin Police Chief Don Bandy. 

“I don’t know an officer yet who has been in a pursuit that when the pursuit is over and the suspect is in custody, or they get terminated, that doesn’t need to pull over and sit down and get the shaking out of their knees,” explained Cheatham County Sheriff Lt. Ken Miller.

“More and more people are running from police now-a-days,” said Lt. Shannon Heflin of the Cheatham County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s very complicated. We are doing more than driving out there. We have to think about the crime for which we are pursuing. and constantly evaluating conditions to determine if what we are pursuing is worth the danger created toward the public,” said Hendersonville Police Commander Scott Ryan.

In a special News 2 series, officers open up about the perils of their job and how they cope with danger on a daily basis.

You can check out more from Behind the Badge here.

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