By Elizabeth Matthews
St. Louis County (KSDK) - St. Louis County police now have new pursuit policies thanks to one vocal neighborhood.
Pasadena Hills was hit hard by a copper thief two years ago. Police knew who the suspect was and caught them in action but when the suspect took off, police were unable to chase. That's when residents of Pasadena Hills said something has to change.
The pursuit policies now allow police to only chase if the suspect threatens to use or uses deadly force. They cannot chase for things like property crimes or traffic violations. Now two changes are coming to those policies, all thanks to people like Chris Dulle.
"My wife and I were sleeping at about 5:30 in the morning when we hear this horrible clanging noise," said Chris Dulle, who helped changed police policy, but is not taking the credit.
He says he's just a victim of a crime. Copper thieves struck his house twice.
"He was jamming a large section of guttering, my guttering by the way, he had already gotten my neighbors," said Dulle.
In the fall of 2010 Dulle's neighborhood of Pasadena Hills was hit hard with 19 copper thefts. St Louis County police were on it. They investigated and figured out who the thief was and when the time came to catch the suspect, they sped off. Police ended up running into a roadblock.
"At a community meeting some of the residents were very upset with me and the police department because we had a policy that didn't allow us to chase for property crimes," said St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch.
The chief says the department decided to send out a survey asking those they serve what their pursuit policy should be. Results came back and because of what the people said the policy is being changed.
"Over 80 percent of the residents said we don't think you should be letting impaired drivers go," said Dulle who is changing that policy.
That's just one of the changes. The other is now county police can chase first-degree burglary suspects.
"They really were looking for some additional opportunities for us to capture the criminals in the community and this is one way to do it," said Chief Fitch.
So in the end, the survey didn't exactly help out with Dulle's copper theft incidents, but he says progress was made.
"I think we overwhelmingly said we don't want to get anyone hurt but these are not victimless crimes," said Dulle. "We stay up at night worrying about what's going to happen."
These changes will start August 1. The chief does think that with these new policies there will be more chases in the county, but they still will take safety precautions.