Lots of the people who met me during my time as a Deputy would probably say I was hard, yet there were a lot of times that I felt maybe I was too soft. I did not feel like everyone needed to go to jail. Everyone makes a mistake once in a while. Depending on how the person acted I might give them another chance. While performing their duties officers have a lot of latitude as to how they handle an incident. You have to make on the spot judgments and then live with them.
I was patrolling highway 278 on Hilton Head Island heading north just after sunset, when a motorcycle passed me headed south with no head light. I turned around and when I did the motorcycle took off like a shot. I turned on my blue light and siren and pursued him.
The bike gained on me until we came to the first traffic circle at the south end of the Island. We both had to slow down for the circle but I was able to catch up. We went around the circle once then started around again, half way around the second time the bike turned off onto Greenwood drive toward the Sea Pines Plantation security gate. Just before he got to the gate he did a u-turn and headed back toward the circle. Again just before he got to the circle he turned left into the parking lot of an office building. I was right behind him. At the end of the parking lot was a barrier approximately four feet high made of railroad ties.
The rider gunned his bike and tried to jump the barrier. He made it half way, his bike landed with its frame sitting on top of the railroad ties and both wheels in midair. The rider revved his engine and looked over his shoulder at me. I got out of my car and motioned with my finger for him to come back to me. He slowly got off his bike and walked back to my patrol car with his head hung down. I had him have a seat up front on the passenger side. The fact that he did not run after he got off the bike entered into my judgment of him. He reminded me of a child who had gotten caught by his father doing something wrong. I talked to him and asked why he had run from me. He told me that he had gotten scared because he didn't want a ticket. He said he took off without really thinking about it then he was afraid to stop because he had already started to run.
I had him give me his driver's license and I did a records check on him. He had no record and he seemed to have really learned something from the incident so I wrote him just one ticket for driving without a headlight. I made him call his wife to come pick him up since he couldn't ride the bike until it was light out.
by R.L. Dettwiler