12/06/2013

Ohio PD reviews officers' driving after pedestrians hit

Two police cruisers struck pedestrians in crosswalks in the past two weeks

By Laura Arenschield
The Columbus Dispatch

DELAWARE, Ohio — The Delaware Police Department is reviewing how its officers drive and deal with distractions after two police cruisers struck pedestrians in crosswalks in the past two weeks.

"There's a lot of distractions in cruisers," said Chief Bruce Pijanowski. "We'll review it internally, and we'll make recommendations on what we need to do from here."

Delaware Police Officer Greg Bates, 30, struck an Ohio Wesleyan University student about 9:15 p.m. Tuesday when he turned from Elizabeth Street onto Rt. 36. The student, senior Rachel Parfenchuk, 22, was walking in the crosswalk when she was hit.

Parfenchuk said she wasn't injured and declined medical treatment, according to the police report. Bates was cited for failing to yield the right of way.

Early on Thanksgiving morning, Officer Mark Jackson, 37, struck a player on the Ohio Wesleyan women's basketball team as she crossed Central Avenue. The student, junior Caroline Welker, 21, was treated for a severe concussion.

Her father, Rex Welker, said she will likely miss several games.

Jackson was cited for failing to yield the right of way and paid a fine in court this week.

Pijanowski said both Jackson and Bates are still on duty but the department was reviewing the incidents, as well as its policies and procedures around driving.

The two incidents were anomalies, Pijanowski said. "I can't think of a time where we've had a cruiser strike a pedestrian. To have two of them is alarming, to say the least."

Copyright 2013 The Columbus Dispatch


McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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