Driver leads Shawnee Police on nearly 30 mile pursuit
A Shawnee officer pursued a vehicle at low speeds for nearly 30 miles early Friday morning.
According to major Dan Tennis with the Shawnee Police Department, Lenexa police saw a suspicious vehicle around a business near Kansas Highway 7 near 75th Street and initiated a traffic stop at about 1:25 a.m.
"The vehicle failed to pull over, but was not driving fast," Tennis said.
According to radio traffic, the Lenexa officer turned off his emergency equipment as he continued to follow the vehicle into Shawnee. The officer requested that Shawnee officers be notified and attempt to get in front of the car with spike strips.
Radio traffic from Lenexa officers indicated that the suspect vehicle was only exceeding the speed limit by about five miles-per-hour over the posted 55 miles-per-hour speed limit on Shawnee Mission Parkway.
"One of our officers deployed stop sticks at Shawnee Mission Parkway and Interstate 435 and then followed the vehicle as the tires disintegrated," Tennis said.
Tire debris shows that one of the vehicle's tires was destroyed and most of the tire's remnants were left at the bottom of the ramp from eastbound Shawnee Mission Parkway to Lackman Road. This is also the same area where a gouge mark begins to appear along the chase route.
The suspect led officers southbound on Lackman Road and then eastbound onto Blackfish Parkway. A Lenexa police supervisor could be heard on the radios telling Lenexa officers to turn off their emergency equipment and only follow the pursuit if they could do so while obeying traffic laws.
At least three Shawnee officers were in pursuit of the car as it continued eastbound on Blackfish Parkway passing Pflumm Road.
The car continued eastbound on Blackfish Parkway, to near Richards, where Blackfish becomes 75th Street. A Lenexa officer reported that he was able to hit at least two of the suspect's tires as the chase passed Quivira Road.
Shawnee officers continued in pursuit as the driver turned southbound on Switzer Road from 75th Street.
As Shawnee officers were calling their pursuit on an encrypted radio channel, Lenexa police dispatchers were relaying the pursuit's location over a regional pursuit channel.
When asked why the Shawnee officer was calling the pursuit on an encrypted radio channel, Major Tennis said, "I do not know why he was on channel 3, or even if he was on that channel."
Vehicle pursuits are normally called out on primary talkgroups, making it easier for officers and dispatchers from surrounding agencies to monitor the location of the pursuit and assist if needed. There is also a regional pursuit channel available, which can be monitored by officers and dispatchers across the Kansas City metropolitan area.
Radio traffic from the Lenexa dispatcher on the regional pursuit channel stated that the suspect vehicle and one Shawnee police vehicle crossed the railroad tracks continuing southbound on Switzer Road. Other Shawnee officers who were in pursuit were cut off from the pursuit by a passing train.
The lone Shawnee officer continued in pursuit into Lenexa. Lenexa officers followed the low-speed pursuit at a distance.
The driver attempted to lose officers by driving a circle through a neighborhood south of 95th Street near Haskins Street. Gouge marks in the pavement show that the vehicle was now missing two tires. The gouge marks leave the road and cross a sidewalk on the southwest corner of Logan Lane and Haskins Street. The driver then headed back to 95th Street and entered Interstate 35, where he led officers southbound into Olathe.
With speeds around 50 miles-per-hour on Interstate 35, Lenexa officers followed the pursuit with rear-facing warning lights activated to alert drivers who would be traveling faster than the pursuit.
The driver exited Interstate 35 at Santa Fe Street in Olathe. An Olathe police supervisor advised his officers to not become involved in Shawnee's pursuit.
At 1:59 a.m. an Olathe police supervisor could be heard on the radio requesting that his dispatcher contact Shawnee police and ask them to "terminate their pursuit if they only have traffic charges."
About four minutes later the Shawnee officer could be heard saying that he had terminated the pursuit. The lone Shawnee officer left the area and returned to Shawnee city limits.
When asked why Shawnee officers continued to pursue the vehicle, even when other departments said they would not be getting involved, Major Tennis said, "we were assisting Lenexa Police and once he [the suspect] hit the stop sticks our officers felt like he was a danger to the public driving on a flat tire. There are lots of factors to consider and our on scene sergeant was in the best position to make that call."
The pursuit covered roughly 30 miles in about 40 minutes.
Major Tennis says Shawnee Police will have charges of fleeing and eluding for the driver.
"All in all pretty minor, slow speed incident," Tennis said.
Officers from Olathe and Lenexa, along with a Johnson County Sheriff's Deputy continued to check the area for the suspect vehicle.
According to radio traffic, Olathe officers found the vehicle abandoned near the intersection of East Sheridan Street and South Stevenson Drive. A witness told officers that the man who had been driving ran west from the car. Officers and deputies set up a large perimeter and used two Lenexa Police K-9s to search the area for the driver.
After nearly 45 minutes of searching with K-9s, officers called off the search and cleared the perimeter.
Olathe Police Sergeant Bryan Hill says he is "not sure what the pursuit was for. Lenexa ended up recovering the car, so it must have been related to something they had."
Shawnee Police Major Tennis says, "an arrest was made, but I don't have those details."
Johnson County Sheriff's Office booking logs show Lenexa police made an arrest shortly before 2 a.m. It is unclear if that arrest is related to the pursuit. The arrested person is currently charged with felony possession.
Attempts to reach a Lenexa Police Department public information officer were unsuccessful on Friday.
Check back with this report and the Shawnee Dispatch for updates.