On Oct. 7, a little before noon, Jeremy Lee Logan led the Collegedale Police Department (CPD) on a high-speed chase from the 9000 block of Old Lee Highway to the 3600 block of Camp Road, where the suspect fled by foot into the woods near the Deer Ridge neighborhood, according to the CPD.
Logan, whom police are charging with evading police, possession of stolen property, assault on a law enforcement officer, driving on a suspended license, vandalism and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to a CPD Facebook post, is not a resident of Hamilton County and is still at large. The CPD is continuing to work with state and federal agencies to track down and arrest Logan, according to Assistant Chief Jamie Heath.
Part of the 10-minute chase took place on Southern Adventist University’s campus as Logan sped through the 4900 block of University Drive. Natalie Marden, a Southern junior nursing major, was driving down that road when the high-speed chase took place. She recently recalled some of what happened around her.
“I was driving from the far side of campus into town and planning on taking the back roads due to traffic,” Marden said. “As I was driving towards and entered the roundabout, I saw something out of the corner of my left eye. I slowed down then stopped completely, and a car flew past me – about a foot away – in the roundabout driving up halfway onto the sidewalk and through some of the grass.”
Marden also described witnessing about four or five police cars chasing right on the vehicle’s tail. She said the area appeared to be full of moderate traffic with people crossing the crosswalk and cars driving around her. She isn’t exactly sure how fast they were going, but, given the 30 mph speed limit in the area, she estimates the suspect and officers were going at least ten mph above the speed limit.
“It happened around lunchtime, so there were people around and walking the sidewalks and through the crosswalk,” said Marden about the surroundings, “but luckily no one was walking the crosswalk right when he drove through that spot.”
Sydney Whitmill, a senior elementary education major, also witnessed the chase as she was driving back home to her off-campus apartment. According to Whitmill, she was on University Drive near the University Health Center (UHC) on Southern’s campus when she saw a car coming up fast behind her.
“I had no idea what was happening, but I heard police sirens and could see the lights flashing behind me,” Whitmill said. “I didn’t really have anywhere else to go on the road, so I just had to go up on the curb right by the UHC. The car whizzed by me and sideswiped me. He didn’t hit me that hard, but I did receive some scratches on my car.”
Whitmill said she thought the suspect and the following cars must have been going at least 20 or 30 mph above the speed limit at that point, because she was driving above the speed limit herself and they were faster than her. For Whitmill, this event raised questions about the danger of high-speed chases through college campuses and similar areas of pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
Dennis Negrón, vice president of Student Development, represents Southern on the CPD’s Round Table Advisory Committee, which discusses existing police procedures and policies. According to Negrón, the Roundtable body just recently discussed existing procedures regarding high speed chases. Reviewing the pursuit policy began in June and was a revisited agenda item in July and August.
“It wasn’t necessarily being changed, but [it] was reaffirmed that the police should never be involved in a high speed chase if there is a potential to put other people in danger,” Negrón said.
He said Four Corners and the train crossing at Collegedale during rush hour or shift changes were examples of high-risk areas due to the high-volume traffic at those times.
The round table also discussed when the CPD has the jurisdiction to chase, according to Negrón, which could be difficult to label considering the boundaries of Collegedale are somewhat flexible.
“In the end, there was a motion of amendment to reflect that pursuit could occur for reasons of auto theft and burglary, not including property theft,” Negrón said.
The police pursued Logan because they were notified of a possible stolen vehicle, but after a later investigation of the car, they discovered that the vehicle belonged to Logan and the license plate was stolen, according to a previous Accent article.
In an email to the Accent, Heath wrote that there is no standard top speed officers are allowed to drive through pedestrian areas where there is both vehicle and foot traffic.
“The courts and legislators have not laid out what they call a ‘bright line’ rule regarding those particular types of details,” Heath said. “This is largely due to the fact that every situation is different, and one single ‘bright line’ rule or standard will not address every detail or safety factor that will undoubtedly arise.”
Heath stated that instead of a “bright line” rule, officers are held responsible through their use of the “Factors of Reasonableness” from the Graham v. Connor U.S. Supreme Court case in 1989. Heath added that the CPD follows additional policies from the Collegedale Police General Order 3.06A Emergency Operation and Pursuit that guide whether a pursuit is reasonable to initiate or continue. Some of the factors that influence a chase include:
The risk of injury to innocent third parties weighed against the interest in apprehension of the fleeing suspect.
Alternative methods of apprehension, including knowledge of the identity of the suspect(s) and possible destination.
Seriousness of the charge (is there probable cause to believe the occupant of the vehicle has committed, is committing or will commit a felony involving violence to a person that could or has resulted in death or serious bodily injury)?
“It’s important to state that our policies only govern our officers,” added Heath. “Other agencies that may assist us are not held to our standards. They are held to their own agency standards.”
Heath also advised how passersby can stay safe during a police chase.
“Be attentive to your surroundings. If you see a police car with its lights and sirens activated and attempting to stop a vehicle that is refusing to pull over, there will absolutely be more police cars coming,” Heath said. “If you’re a driver, pull safely to the right side of the roadway and stop to wait for the pursuit to pass you by. If you are a pedestrian, do not go near it and potentially put yourself in harm’s way.”