SAVANNAH, GA (March 3, 2011): Officers from the Southside and West Chatham precincts presented a lesson in how pursuit policies work with the arrest of a Liberty City neighborhood man this morning.

Michael Anthony Smith, 54, was charged with three felonies: burglary, possession of tools for the commission of a crime, and fleeing to elude police; and three misdemeanors: driving with a revoked driver’s license, driving too fast for conditions and reckless driving.

Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police officers from the Southside precinct were responding to a robbery in-progress call at the Circle K in the 7200 block of Abercorn Street at 2:28 a.m. when they saw a silver car leaving the lot at a high rate of speed. Its driver refused to stop for police.

A senior officer took command of the pursuit while units from West Chatham and Central precincts moved into position and Police determined from the license plate that the owner of the car lived in Liberty City. The senior officer discontinued the pursuit when he was advised the crime involved a burglary rather than a forcible felony robbery. But units already had saturated the area and Liberty City.

Moments later, the car was spotted on Pendleton Street in Liberty City. The driver stopped beside a drainage canal and fled on foot but was apprehended by a Southside Precinct officer after a brief foot chase.

Meanwhile, an employee of the closed store who was watching a monitor told other officers a man had broken through a glass door, placed cartons of Newport cigarettes in the store’s trash can and left. The tactic has been used in at least 10 similar burglaries so far this year. Newport cigarettes were taken in each of the burglaries.

According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, Smith was on parole for a 2007 burglary charge involving the theft of cigarettes. Previously, he had been convicted in 1984 for robbery and theft by taking, in 1988 for burglary and possession of a firearm during commission of a crime, and in 1996 for burglary, theft by receiving stolen property, obstruction of a law enforcement officer and two cases of impersonating another.

Precinct detectives are investigating any connection between this case and others as the probe continues.

SCMPD police allows pursuits based on the ranking officer’s assessment of the severity of the incident, risk to the public and officers and environmental circumstances.

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