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Highway Patrol Pursuit Policy

December 18, 2009, 5:52 PM by Shawn Neisteadt

Highway Patrol Pursuit Policy
A Sioux Falls man is facing charges after running from the highway patrol and crashing into another vehicle, killing its driver.

According to the South Dakota Highway Patrol, around 2:30 a.m. Friday, 30-year-old Jason Larsen-Smith of Sioux Falls, took off in a red Ford Explorer when the trooper tried to pull him over for suspicion of drunk driving.

Larsen-Smith led the trooper along several roads until he crashed at 12th Street and Tea-Ellis Road.

The Sioux Falls driver in that pick-up died at the scene -- his name has not been released.

Several chargers are pending on Larsen-Smith including his DUI, vehicular homicide, driving with a revoked license, and eluding.

He suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Larsen-Smith is no stranger to the wrong side of the law. KELOLAND News did a background check and found he was convicted of his fifth DUI in 2007, but that was actually the seventh time he had pleaded guilty to driving drunk. At that time he was sent to prison and had his drivers license revoked for ten years.

But driving without a license also runs in his past. He pleaded guilty twice in 1997 to driving with a suspended license. He's also been convicted of having marijuana, having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, vandalism, reckless driving and exhibition driving.

When the pursuit started Friday morning, the trooper giving chase didn't know of that extensive history. But once the chase began, the trooper had specific patrol protocol to follow.

"Whenever a trooper recognizes the fact that they are involved in a pursuit, those pursuit policies and practices start initiating," Captain Kevin Joffer of the South Dakota Highway Patrol said.

Captain Kevin Joffer says that includes notifying a supervisor when one begins. That's exactly what happened Friday morning. The trooper or that supervisor then has the option to end the pursuit, based on circumstances, such as how much traffic is around at the time

"One can look back after something is already done and said, the thing that we have to remember is, and we try to keep in mind is the trooper deals with the circumstances as he sees them at the time, and he makes some very quick decisions based on his training and experience," Captain Joffer said.

Captain Joffer says there was no traffic around this morning until the accident. Now, as dictated by patrol policy, an outside agency will investigate everything that happened.

"I think the thing that one has to remember in any of these circumstances, that the person or the suspect drives a lot of what is going on at the time. Whether they choose to drive the way they do based on their condition or whether they choose to ignore signals. Those are choices that they're making," Captain Joffer said.

And even though troopers are trained on what to do, Captain Joffer says that doesn't make it any easier when one ends like this.

"Its tough for anybody because your job is to protect the public and the citizens that you serve because that's what we do is try to keep the general public safe. Unfortunately, there are people that choose to break the law. It is a tough situation that you get put into," Captain Joffer said.

Captain Joffer adds that on top of the Sioux Falls police investigation, highway patrol will also do its own internal investigation and review policies.

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