In pursuit: Police chases sometimes a necessary evil

Here is an interesting premise: What do modern-day police chases have in common with the Wild West?

Dodge City was known for its lawlessness. We have all heard and read about Wyatt Earp, the Earp brothers, Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson and others who basically tamed the frontier towns.

Why did they do it? Some would say to gain fame. Others would say that they were just as wild as the cowboys, cattlemen and town folk they tamed. To me, it was a mixture of both.The fame? Not for the reason you may be thinking.

Either we are a nation of laws or we are not. Wayne Addison, head of the Hancock County Probation Department, said something like this: In this world, we need to face the fact that there are evil people who do evil things.

I have had the opportunity to ride along with members of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department.

I have seen them stop many vehicles. I might add they have always done this in a courteous manner.

So why do some drivers run? Sometimes it is because they do not have a valid driver’s license or registration, or because they have an outstanding warrant.

But, in other cases, they might have committed a felony. So the question remains: Are the high-speed chases that often follow when a person refuses to stop necessary? I submit they are.

The chases are necessary because, much like the Old West, if we did not stop these folks we would tip the balance of “good vs. evil” over to the evil side.

We can turn on our smartphones or our TVs and see chases happening live.

Here in Hancock County, it seems we read about them more and more. Why? It’s because we truly are at the crossroads of America.

We have Interstate 70 and U.S. 40 going from border to border. We have other roads that transition across north and south borders.

We have an excellent cadre of law enforcement personnel that is ever vigilant to evil people in a subculture of crime. If these folks were not apprehended by some method, then the criminal element would rule our streets a la the fictional “Mad Max” movies.

According to Maj. Brad Burkhart, chief deputy of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, here are statistics for Hancock County: In 2016, we had 22 pursuits. So far in 2017, we have had five. This includes the reports from the city of Greenfield.

The major is quick to point out that not all pursuits are high-speed chases.

Also, these statistics do not include pursuits initiated in another county. I also talked to both Chief Jeff Rasche and Lt. Matt Holland of the Greenfield Police Department. Combined, these three public servants have approximately 90 years of service to our community.

Holland told me the actual numbers of pursuits has dramatically dropped in the past five years. I would attribute this to better training, better communication and a whole lot of new technology. So even though evil is still alive and happening in this world, we are reaping the reward of technology and better training.

The bottom line: Do we want Indiana, and specifically Hancock County, to be like the days of Dodge City? Do we want a Mad Max mentality ruling our streets?

Remember the brave men and women in Hancock County are doing their best to keep evil in check. So the next time you are driving down Interstate 70 or even a side road and see a plethora of police vehicles in hot pursuit, remember that person they are trying to apprehend has been reported to 911. These men and women are only trying to keep you and me and our loved ones safe.

C.O. Montgomery of New Palestine is a former teacher, Sugar Creek Township trustee and co-director of the Hancock County Character Council. Send comments to