Altamonte Springs police find new, safer way to locate suspects who flee

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ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. - A man Altamonte Springs police said was driving erratically may have thought he got away with it when cops didn't chase him, but days later, police tracked him down and charged him with a felony.

As Channel 9's Karla Ray learned, Sean O'Connell, 28, was the latest suspect to be picked up through new tactics that counter the city's no-chase policy.

The crash left behind after a jewelry heist suspect took Orlando police and federal agents on a high-speed chase in November is proof of just how dangerous chasing suspects can be both for officers and bystanders, which is why officers were told back off chasing O'Connell after he fled on his motorcycle.

Investigators said O'Connell went up to 80 mph to get away, so they had to back off the chase because the initial traffic stop was not for a forcible felony.

But in an effort to counter criminals getting away because of the agency's no felony, no chase policy, the Altamonte Springs Street Crimes Unit is now tasked with tracking people like O'Connell down.

Officials said the unit begins tracking where the vehicle was last seen, whether there were any other occupants and they work to locate and apprehend the suspects.

On Wednesday, O'Connell became the 21st person to be arrested after initially getting away since the agency started heavily investigating fleeing suspects in 2012.

Last week, only Channel 9 got access to a ride along with Daytona Beach police, who had to let two stolen cars go because of that agency's chase policy.

There, Chief Michael Chitwood said he's working on a new policy to stop criminals without high-speed chases, but those details are still under wraps.