High-Speed Chase Never Needed To Happen

Jeanne Toy of Falconer raised an interesting question after a recent chase that went through the athletic field at Falconer Central School.

Toy’s 16-year-old son was on the field at the time boarding a bus for a local track meet. Toy, though grateful that no bystanders were harmed, couldn’t help but question whether pursuing a vehicle through school property was a prudent and all-around safe choice for law enforcement.

We think police handled the situation correctly, particularly after hearing William L. Ohnmeiss Jr., Ellicott police chief, describe the situation. There wasn’t time to alert school officials what was going on because of where the chase began. Donald Dean had tried to hit police officers with his vehicle – who knows who else he would have put at risk while trying to evade capture? Ohnmeiss said he also thought there was a chance Dean could try to ditch the car and go into the school building. Officers thought the best course of action was to try to control the situation as best they could.

A better question is what Dean was doing on the streets in the first place. He was charged with possession of cocaine, suboxone strips and marijuana as well as with criminal possession of a controlled substance during a pair of 2013 incidents. In another 2013 incident he was charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, second-degree criminal use of drug paraphernalia and second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation after a vehicle he was driving was reportedly seen speeding in the area of Newland Avenue and Sampson Street. More recently, on Jan. 5, Dean was charged with failure to use designated lane, failure to comply, unlawful possession of marijuana, felony driving while ability impaired by drugs, and first-degree felony aggravated unlicensed operation after leading Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Deputies on a short chase after they tried to pull his vehicle over on Fairmount Avenue. Dean had a previous DWI conviction in the past 10 years and a suspended driver’s license before that incident.

After two years, it would appear Dean hasn’t learned his lesson. Perhaps the incident near Falconer Central School would never have needed to happen were Dean not out on the streets in the first place.