Tuscaloosa County law enforcement calls for strengthening state police eluding laws

Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 8:59 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 9, 2023 at 9:04 PM CST
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - The high speed police chase that ended with a shootout in Tuscaloosa is renewing calls for tougher laws for running from police.

Tuscaloosa’s police chief is making a passionate plea to state lawmakers. Police say there is, in fact, a felony eluding law, but that only applies if a third party is injured, excluding the suspect or the police. Otherwise, speeding away from the police is a misdemeanor.

Tuscaloosa Police Chief Brent Blankley didn’t mince words about the need to take another look at the state’s overall eluding laws.

“Alabama needs to take a hard look at our eluding charges. Right now, they’re misdemeanors. They need to be felonies. Pursuits are very, very dangerous,” said Tuscaloosa Police Chief Brent Blankley.

The chief’s comments came just hours after 33-year-old Jamarcus Garrett led authorities on a high-speed chase, one that reached upwards of 100 miles per hour on University Boulevard. The chase ended when Garrett crashed his vehicle.

“I agree with that. Eluding the police should be a felony in and of itself, or at least there be some more circumstances other than an injured third party to elevate it,” said Violent Crimes Unit Commander Capt. Jack Kennedy.

State Representative Reed Ingram of the Montgomery area says he is absolutely in favor of a change.

“Too much of that going on now and no consequences. I fully support any deal that is brought or I myself may bring it,” said Representative Ingram.

Investigators say Jamarcus Garrett’s run from authorities could have been a real catastrophe.

“It’s a danger to the city. We have two vehicles that he crashed into. He had no regard for anybody on the road, no regard for the citizens of Tuscaloosa or the police,” said Chief Blankley.

Captain Kennedy declined to say what he thinks the penalties should be if the eluding laws are strengthened, but did add that a felony offense by definition would be more than a year behind bars.

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