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Chasing suspects: making the call Sheriff, police chief at odds over high-speed pursuits By Jess Rollins JROLLINS@NEWS-LEADER.COM

A retired couple from Bolivar had just finished an afternoon doctor’s appointment in Springfield when they were sideswiped by a black Mercury Cougar. Moments later, another couple on their way to Lowe’s swerved, just missing the same black Cougar now headed the wrong way down a freeway off-

Reports detail gifts by lobbyists

ramp. For 20 minutes, people were forced into ditches by WATCHDOG W AATCHDOG TCHDOOGG the speeding RREPORT EPORT car as a wanted felon attempted to elude Greene County Sheriff’s deputies through the heart of the city — just after the workday lunch hour. A second car also got sideswiped.

Critics, and some motorists who feel they narrowly escaped injury in the March 14 chase, say those kinds of pursuits can get people killed. The decision to chase the man in the Cougar was a judgment call. Sheriff Jim Arnott made the call. He also sticks by it. As he sticks by a similar decision on Feb. 21, 2012, when depu-


INSIDE Police chief, sheriff disagree, Page 6A Policies, statistics on chases, Page 7A

In both Greene County Sheriff pursuits through Springfield: » No one was injured » Top speeds between 90 and 100 mph » Along major thoroughfares during weekday afternoon traffic » Neither man was intoxicated, contrary to early accounts from sheriff » Both men are free on bond

SEE THREE VIDEOS AT NEWS-LEADER.COM » A Springfield couple describes close call with suspect being chased » Time-lapse video of 2012 pursuit route » Interview with sheriff just after 2013 chase

See REPORT, Page 6A


Professor says spending on lawmakers is “business as usual” By Jonathan Shorman JSHORMAN@NEWS-LEADER.COM

When the country-folk Zac Brown Band came to Springfield in February, Republican Springfield Rep. Lincoln Hough had a free ticket. A lobbyist picked up the tab: $64. When Gov. Jay Nixon was inaugurated on Jan. 14, two lobbyists spent a combined $688 in catering for Republican Springfield Sen. Bob Dixon’s inaugural reception. As part of an annual salute for Missouri governmental leaders at JQH Arena at Missouri State University, Paul Kincaid with the university paid for two basketball tickets and vouchers for Democratic Rep. Charlie Norr, a $62 value. The expenses go on and on. According to reports released this weekbytheMissouriEthicsCommission, lobbyists spent about $4,500 on Springfield-area lawmakers in the first three months of the year. The reports record any time a lobbyist made an expense on behalf of a lawmaker. Since the legislative session began in January, some lawmakers have enjoyed a steady diet of lobbyist-paid meals while others have limited the amount of gifts they’ve taken. Hough, who accepted about $1,512 in gifts – the most of any Springfield legislator – had 48 meals during the first three months of the year at lobbyist expense. They include $95 in food and drink on Jan. 22 from a lobbyist with the Missouri Automobile Dealers Association followed by $45 Jan. 23 from a lobbyist with Bristol-Myers Squibb, the pharmaceutical company. But that was only after Sandy Howard from the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce paid $10 for lunch. When asked by the NewsLeader about the expenses, Hough said he would “happily defend” them. “I think the fact (is) that I’m 100 percent open and transparent and in no way try to hide any sort

Addison Williams, 5, takes a kindergarten screening test at the former Doling school. Superintendent Norm Ridder says children who come to school with the skills to learn hit the ground running. VALERIE MOSLEY/NEWS-LEADER

Community leaders ready to innovate Window open for action on preschool in Springfield


By Claudette Riley


At 10 p.m. on KY3, watch Ashley Reynolds’ report on the future of preschool in Springfield.

For complete coverage, go online at .com/ReadyToLearn and at o time to waste. That phrase came



up over and over as Springfield community leaders described the urgency they feel about helping young children prepare for success in school and life. They kept pointing to the confluence of problems — growing poverty, lack of school readiness and funding cuts to early childhood programs — as fueling the quest to find local solutions. “There seems to be this new awareness and conviction that something needs to happen,” said Brian Fogle, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of

the Ozarks. “... We can’t wait anymore.” A growing chorus of community leaders — and groups such as the Brian Fogle Mayor’s Commission for Children, the Good Community think tank and the Every Child Initiative — are coalescing around the idea of improving access to high quality early childhood education as a way to improve school readiness in young

children most likely to fall through the cracks. Fogle likened the growing momentum around preschool to what happened with downtown revitalization. He said that while a group of dedicated folks had worked on the effort for years, there was little progress until the idea “took root” and support reached a tipping point. “All of a sudden a window of opportunity opened up and we took advantage of it,” Fogle said. “I see a similar type of opportunity and a window here.” State education officials said Springfield — home of the state’s largest fully accredited district — has an opportunity to come up with a unique solution to help its children. Peter Herschend, president of the state Board of

EVERY CHILD — READY TO LEARN A joint project of KY3 and the Springfield News-Leader to help the community understand the need for improved early childhood education in the Ozarks. Part 1 (April 21-23): The need for better preschool programs Part 2 (April 28-30): A look at how other communities are putting their children to the front of the class. Part 3 — Today: What community leaders here believe needs to be done to help our children be Ready to Learn Monday: Missouri’s history with kindergarten may offer road map.

See EXPAND, Page 4A


May 4&5

Index VOL. 123, NO. 125 ©2013, NEWS-LEADER


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Report/Backing off will slow suspects Continued from Page 1A

ties chased a burglary suspect in a 30-minute pursuit through Springfield’s afternoon traffic. Arnott, who helped pursue suspects in both cases, believes catching these alleged bad guys was worth whatever risk the pursuits created. Others disagree — including the police chief of the city where the chases took place. Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams said: “Very few things are worth putting people’s lives in danger.”

Danger to motorists

Why the pursuits happened On Feb. 21, 2012, deputies chased Jason Capps for 30 minutes through major intersections, reaching speeds of up to 100 mph. Capps was wanted for allegedly violating parole stemming from an earlier burglary conviction. Arnott said in 2012 that Capps was also suspected of several Greene County burglaries. A year later, Capps has been charged in Greene County only with felony resisting arrest stemming from the chase. On March 14 of this year, deputies pursued 25year-old Michael Riemer, who during the 20-minute chase sideswiped two vehicles near National Avenue and Battlefield Road. Later, the fleeing car drove the wrong way through oncoming traffic on James River Freeway. Deputies said Riemer had avoided facing court on a felony drunken driving charge and he was wanted for questioning in connection with a homicide. On Tuesday, Arnott declined to discuss that homicide investigation but acknowledged no charges have been filed. Riemer, like Capps, has been released from the Greene County Jail. No one was injured in either pursuit and both men were taken into custody. Shortly after each pursuit, Arnott told the NewsLeader that both men appeared to have been driving under the influence. On Tuesday, Arnott said neither man tested positive for intoxicants. Both men had been identified before pursuits began. That seems to directly contradict a sheriff’s office policy that a pursuit “shall be terminated” if the identity of the suspect has been determined and can be taken into custody by other means. Arnott also said Tuesday, “there are certain things that people don’t know about these guys.”

On Feb. 21, 2012, deputies chased Jason Capps for 30 minutes through major intersections, reaching speeds of up to 100 mph. Capps was wanted for allegedly violating parole stemming from an earlier burglary conviction. NEWS-LEADER FILE PHOTO

Reasons for pursuit

Early-2012 chase route: traffic counts

Before a high speed chase takes place the officer must have an initial reason for pursuing. These are reasons the Springfield Police Department and the Greene County Sheriff's Office began chases from 2008 to 2012.

Greene County deputies attempted to stop a vehicle north of Springfield at about 1 p.m. and the car fled south, reaching speeds as high as 100 mph. A 30-minute chase sped through some of Springfield’s main streets and intersections. It happened as a high-traffic time of day at the intersections below was winding down. In this case, the “peak hour” begins at noon and ends at 1 p.m.

Suspected crime













Stolen vehicle






Wanted person









Assault law enforcement officer



Gun/shots fired



Parole absconder






Leaving scene of an accident



Stolen license plate



Suspicious activity



Possible stakling




1st & 2nd degree car tampering



Resisting arrest



The sheriff’s department declined to describe the route for the more recent high-speed chase through Springfield.

License plate violation



Felony leaving scene of an accident



Check person



Theft Suspect



Chestnut Expy.

Glenstone Ave. G ve.

Peak hour traffic: 1,193 Hourly average: 560

0.5 miles

Fremont Ave.

Division D Di i iv St.

National Ave.


Serious traffic violation(s)

Boonv Boo B oon onvi onville nville ille e Ave. Ave Av ve e..

What if those pursuits killed somebody? “That would have been horrible,” Arnott told the News-Leader. He paused. “But here’s the other thing, do I tell deputies not to make traffic stops because they could get killed?” He went on: “Our job is not safe. What we do is dictated by the people we try to arrest.” Arnott was asked if he acknowledged that these pursuits put innocent people in danger. “I acknowledge that the suspects in those pursuits put innocent people in danger,” he said. Pressed again about the danger to motorists, Arnott responded with a question: “Should we not pursue anybody?” Arnott argued that the two pursuits through the city, and all other chases his deputies have engaged in over the more than four years he has been sheriff, have unique justifications and ought to be considered on individual merit.

Peak hour traffic: 3,756 Hourly average: 1,980

St. Louis St.

Peak hour traffic: 3,131 Hourly avg: 1,303 Grand St.

Peak hour traffic: 3,281 Hourly avg: 1,460


Sunshine St.


Police chief, sheriff disagree on pursuits


He picked up the telephone, put it on speaker, and dialed the police A rare rift was revealed chief’s office. last week between the “We can get to the Greene County sheriff and bottom of this right now,” Springfield police chief. he told a reporter. The pair have appeared After several rings, the side-by-side in phone went to public service voice mail. Williams announcements; was at the dentist’s supported each office, the Newsother’s efforts to Leader learned influence lawlater. makers; and After hanging collaborated to up the phone, improve the Arnott said he did efficiency of both not recall such a Paul agencies. meeting with the Williams But on highchief and he denied speed pursuits the two have a through the city, difference of opithe two top lawnion on the recent men are butting decisions to pursue heads. through the city. Chief Paul Later that day, Williams said he Williams called the has discussed his News-Leader saying concerns with he had reminded Sheriff Jim Arnott Jim Arnott the sheriff of the informally after conversation and deputies — and that Williams stood the sheriff himself — on by his earlier comments. two occasions since FebruWilliams added that the ary 2012 chased fleeing sheriff indicated he had vehicles at high speeds more information on the through dense city traffic. fleeing suspects than “We agreed to disWilliams had been made agree,” said Williams, aware of. That informadescribing the conclusion tion, the sheriff believes, of the conversation. might convince Williams Williams acknowledged that the chases were apcounty deputies have the propriate. authority to pursue in the That could be, Williams city but he added: “I would said. prefer that city policing — But, for now, based on in the city — be left to us.” what Springfield police Asked to comment on supervisors were told at these statements during an the time, the city police did interview with the Newsnot — and would not — Leader, Arnott seemed engage in the two pursurprised. suits, Williams said.

By Jess Rollins


GREENE COUNTY SHERIFF’S HIGH-SPEED PURSUITS THROUGH SPRINGFIELD Fleeing suspect: Jason Capps, 29 Time of chase: Started about 1 p.m. Feb. 21, 2012 Duration of chase: About 30 minutes Maximum speed: 100 mph Route included: Division, Fremont, Glenstone, Grand Reason for pursuit: Parole violation stemming from burglary conviction, suspected in other burglaries Intoxicated: No Injuries: None Charged with: Resisting arrest Released from jail: Two weeks later on $25,000 bond

Fleeing suspect: Michael Riemer, 25 Time of chase: started about 1:40 p.m. March 14, 2013 Duration of chase: About 20 minutes Maximum speed: 90 mph Route included: National, Battlefield, Republic, James River Freeway Reason for pursuit: warrant for failing to appear in felony DWI case, wanted for questioning in homicide Intoxicated: No Injuries: None Charged with: resisting arrest, receiving stolen property, meth possession Released from jail: seven weeks later on $15,000 bond

From a different perspective

ment officers) are in a pursuit, they have to understand that they are not only putting their own life in jeopardy but others in the public,” he said. Whetsel trains his deputies to be especially mindful of their surroundings, with special care given in high-traffic environments. Depending on the specifics of the case, deputies can be disciplined for continuing a pursuit when they should have terminated it. Supervisors can also face scrutiny if they don’t step in. “We hold our deputies to a very high standard when it comes to our pur- tinued to drive dangeroussuits,” Whetsel said. ly whether or not deputies were in hot pursuit. He notes that deputies When pursuing backed off for a time in officers back off the February chase of In both controversial Capps. Deputies picked Springfield chases, Arnott the pursuit back up after argues the fleeing sus- motorists called 911 to repects would have con- port Capps’ erratic driv-

Several academic and law enforcement experts agreed to speak with the News-Leader generally about pursuits. Among them, Sheriff John Whetsel of Oklahoma County, Okla., who urges agencies to develop strict pursuit policies, practices and training. Whetsel has unique authority on the subject — his wife and 4-year-old daughter were killed in 1980 when a state trooper, pursuing a suspect, blew through a stop sign at high speeds. Whetsel, a police chief in nearby Choctaw at the time, was dispatched to the scene before discovering it was his relatives who had died. Whetsel often offers his tragic story as a cautionary tale. “When (law enforce-

ing. “That goes to the point,” Arnott said. “It’s based on the person — how motivated they are.” But others say fleeing suspects are likely to slow down when pursuing officers back off. Chief Williams: “If you

are pushing them, they will keep going. If you stop, they will not. They have nothing to escape anymore.” That sentiment was echoed by Maj. Ed Hudak, of the Coral Gables Police Department near Miami. Hudak, along with academic researchers, authored a report about pursuits that was distributed by the FBI to local agencies throughout the country in 2010. The report included a survey of suspects who had fled from the police. Researchers determined about 75 percent said they would slow down when they “felt safe.” On average, they would have “to be free from the police show of authority by emergency lights or siren for approximately two blocks in town ... and 2.5 miles on a freeway.” “Nobody slows down right away,” Hudak told the News-Leader. “But eventually they will slow down and go back into flow of traffic. It’s when they think they’ve gotten away.” Hudak said that should encourage officers to “break off” potentially dangerous pursuits as soon as possible — slow down, turn the emergency lights off and even turn around and drive in the opposite direction to show the pursuit is over. “It’s not only controlling your vehicle, but you need to be responsible for the actions of the person you are pursuing,” Hudak said. That can be a hard thing for officers to do. “Don’t chase ’em? That flies in the face of what a lot of law enforcement officers had a calling to do: catch the bad guy,” Hudak said. Hudak said law enforcement agencies are well-served to have a strict, unambiguous policy and make sure patrol officers and deputies “buy into it.” He encourages that an off-site supervisor make the call of whether or not to cancel a pursuit. Told that the sheriff himself was involved in two high-speed pursuits through dense traffic, Hudak replied: “It’s kinda hard for anybody to tell your boss to stop. That could be a problem.” Hudak’s report included other statistics: One out of every 100 high-speed pursuits end in a fatality. Innocent third parties constitute 42 percent of persons killed or injured in police pursuits. Hudak and others acknowledge more research needs to be done before law enforcement can draw clear conclusions about the behavior of fleeing motorists. Cynthia Lum, from the Center for EvidenceBased Crime Policy at George Mason University, was asked if a fleeing suspect will slow down if officers discontinue a pursuit. “This is a very good question, of which the answer is ‘I don't know,’ ” Lum said in an email to the News-Leader. Lum said police agencies do not typically record all of their pursuits — or what happens before, during and after — so there is no way to determine, conclusively, what a suspect will do when officers stop pursuing. Other questions unanswered by research include how long it takes after the pursuit is called off before the fleeing suspect slows down, or whether the suspect stops the vehicle and continues to flee on foot. Still, multiple law enforcement sources interviewed for this report say they have anecdotal evidence that suspects slow down. If they did not slow down, Sheriff Whetsel said, it was because they never looked in the rear view mirror to realize the pursuit had ended.


May 5, 2013


Agencies’ pursuit policies similar Police, sheriff’s office, highway patrol provide statistical data on pursuits By Jess Rollins JROLLINS@NEWS-LEADER.COM

Experts on police pursuits say the best way to protect the public — and departmentsagainstliability lawsuits — is to create a clear policy governing chases and to train officers in its strict interpretation. A perfect policy, many note, has not yet been written. But many best practices have been included in policies across the country. Pursuit policies from Springfield Police and the Greene County Sheriff’s Office have several similarities, including this: the need to apprehend a fleeing suspect must outweigh the danger created by the pursuit. Both policies also require the pursuit be terminated if the fleeing suspect can be identified and caught another way. In both policies, a pursuing officer or deputy cannot be criticized for abandoning a pursuit. Both agencies allow pursuits of those who are suspected of drunken driving or who otherwise present a clear and immediate threat to the safety of other motorists. There is one notable difference between the two policies: sheriff’s deputies can pursue anyone be-

Lobbyists Continued from Page 1A

of expenditures that are madeonmybehalf,”Hough said. While Hough has taken meals from lobbyists, Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield,hastakenonlyonegift from a lobbyist this year: $20 in food and drink at the Multiple Sclerosis Advocates Dinner in February, paid for by a lobbyist from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Burlison told the NewsLeader on Thursday he has already reimbursed the society for the dinner. While he does not oppose the idea of taking meals from lobbyists, he said that since he already takes a personal financial hit as a legislator, he decided to go the extra step and not accept lobbying gifts, either. Legislators are paid $35,915 annually. “Even though I don’t (accept gifts), I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. I don’t think people change their votes based on a meal,” Burlison said. “What happens, though, is that public perception tends to think it doesn’t look good.” In between the two extremes are other Springfield-area lawmakers, all of whom are Republicans. Rep. Sonya Anderson took $452 in meals and other items; Rep. Kevin Austin, $360; Rep. Jeff Messenger, $126; and Rep. Lyndall Fraker, $719. Rep. Elijah Haahr took $151in gifts, but also reimbursed the cost for several meals.

Looking for access George Connor, Missouri State University political science professor, mostly agreed with Burlison’s assessment.Lobbyistsarenot looking to buy votes, he said, as much as they are looking for access. The part-time status of the legislature, combined with lawmakers who are understaffed, creates a situation where legislators need information on issues. Lobbyists can help educate senators and representatives, he said. “I don’t think too many constituents are going to blink that somebody picks up the lunch and we’re talking about the Farm Bureau orwhoever,theNationalRifle Association, whoever that might be,” Connor said. But, Connor said, more people might raise eyebrows about lobbyists

lieved to have committed a felony; Springfield police only allow pursuits for “violent” felons. Another provision in both policies requires a report of every pursuit, an evaluation — by the sheriff and chief, respectively — to determine whether each chase followed policy guidelines. The News-Leader requested those reports but was denied by both agencies. The agencies cited a Sunshine Law exemption for personnel records. Both agencies conduct an annual review of these reports in an effort to spot trends or training needs. The Springfield Police Department, Greene County Sheriff’s Office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol did agree to provide several years worth of statistical data aboutpursuits.Springfield police and the highway patrol maintain more detailed records of pursuits and share them with a third-party accrediting agency. Each agency provided the information in different formats and used different terminology. Springfield police engaged in 151 pursuits between 2008 and 2012. Of those, 19 were considered to be “out of policy.” Chief Paul Williams described

that to mean that an officer should not have started a pursuit or that circumstances warranted the pursuit be canceled, but it was not. Williams noted that his officers have had no pursuits “at 100 mph through Springfield at 1 p.m.” An example of an “out of policy pursuit” would be if an officer began to pursue a suspected drunken driver without sufficient evidence that the driver was intoxicated — even if the driver later turned out to be drunk, Williams said. During the same fiveyear period, Springfield police terminated 37 pursuits for various, including too-heavy traffic, exces-

suits had “policy violations.” As an example, Arnott said a deputy would be justified in pursuing an armedrobberysuspectbut violated policy if he or she did not slow or stop at a red light during the pursuit. The sheriff’s office terminated20pursuitsduring the five-year period, Arnott said, for reasons including excessive speed or identification of the suspect. Arnott also included that 13 pursuits were not initiated by county deputies, though the sheriff’s office assisted in the pursuits. The highway patrol provided data for pursuits between 2008 and 2011.

sive speed or the fleeing suspect was identified and could be apprehended later. The majority of pursuits deemed out of policy were recorded in 2012. Williams attributes the recent spike in part to a slew of new, eager officers who “needed to be nudged back to where they need to be.” The sheriff’s office, who provided similar records to the News-Leader, pursued a fleeing suspect 106 times between 2008 and 2012. According to sheriff’s office records, all pursuits were considered “justified” since Sheriff Jim Arnott took office in 2009. Arnott did say four of the pur-

During that time, Troop D, which is headquartered in Springfield, participated in 142 pursuits. More than 70 percent of those pursuits started as an attempted stop of someone for a traffic violation. Statewide, according to highway patrol data, the average top speed was 93 mph and the pursuits lasted roughly eight minutes. State figures also showed that pursuits end in accidents 21 percent of the time. From 2008 to 2011, a total of 10 people have died during the highway patrol pursuits. Eight were the pursued driver, one was a passenger and one was a citizen.


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THE LAW » Under Missouri law, lobbyists are required to register and must file regular reports showing how much money they’ve spent and on what groups and individuals. » Elected officials cannot promise action or inaction in exchange for gifts or money or favors.

treating legislators to special events. “Golf outings, basketball games, that looks more like a gift than it does conversations and discussions.” In addition to giving to individual lawmakers, lobbyists can also give to groups. Those groups can be as broad as the entire General Assembly, or as narrow as a particular legislative committee. According to the Missouri Ethics Commission, lobbyists gave $182,148 in gifts to the General Assembly as a group during the first three months of the year. In addition to money spent on the General Assembly as a whole, House Republican caucus received $29,420. The House Democratic caucus received $2,690. These expenses typically include meals catered for multiple members. Over in the Senate, the Democratic caucus, which is in the minority, took in $5,654. That’s more than the majority Republican caucus, which took $3,592 in meals and other expenses.




Springfield lobbyists Missouri Ethics Commission reports show there have been 15 active lobbyists from Springfield so far this year. Sandy Howard, with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, spent $1,283 on behalf of legislators in thefirstthreemonthsofthe year. Paul Kincaid with Missouri State University spent $1,583 during the same period. Tracy Kimberlin with the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau spent $894. Scott Marrs, who lobbies for the City of Springfield and Springfield Public Schools, spent $2,239 duringthefirstthreemonthsof the year. “I think ultimately business as usual in Missouri involveslobbyists.Itinvolves interest groups and it involves gifts, it involves payments, it involves all those other kinds of things,” Connor said. “It always has and it probably always will.”

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