Saskatoon

'Wanton desire to evade police': The danger of meth users behind the wheel

Meth drivers create terrifying scenarios for police and public

Posted: May 08, 2019

The police plane captures a driver high on meth in a stolen SUV crossing the ditch on Highway 16 north of Saskatoon and heading into Langham in May 2018. (Saskatoon Police Service)

Police say there is no such thing as a good car chase. A driver's decision to flee officers places the driver, police and the public at great risk.

But, they say, there are degrees of bad. Trying to corral a driver who is high on meth ranks as one of the most dangerous exercises.

"It's that degree and level of wanton desire to evade police," said Insp. Patrick Nogier with the Saskatoon Police.

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"Whether it's going into oncoming lanes of traffic, whether it's going through parks in the middle of the day, whether it's actually trying to ram police vehicles, going off into the ditch with vehicles that are not suited to go off road, those sorts of things."

Insp. Patrick Nogier says officers have been trained to pass off pursuits to the police service's air unit. (CBC)

Nogier said a report coming to the city's Board of Police Commissioners will show that the number of police pursuits dropped between 2017 and 2018, a phenomena he attributes to officers on the ground passing off the pursuit to the air unit because of the suspect's speed and the number of other vehicles on the road.

"Quite quickly our officers are identifying when that individual, when they're attempting to flee from officers, to what extremes they will go," he said.

"What we've seen is the predisposition for very extreme acts has increased."

This was illustrated in April when a prosecutor played footage in provincial court during a sentencing hearing.

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Terrance Morin had pleaded guilty to a variety of driving charges related to a pursuit from May 2018 that ended when he doused himself with gasoline and lit himself on fire. Morin has led police on a two-hour pursuit in the city and north on grid roads in a stolen SUV. The chase and self-immolation were caught on camera by the police plane.

Morin said in court that he had been high on crystal meth for seven days.

Nogier says meth now plays a specific role in the police training curriculum.

"We try to let them know through education the fact that meth is having a profound impact on the community. It has a profound impact on the person's ability to reason and the way that will react in certain situations," he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Zakreski

Dan Zakreski is a reporter for CBC Saskatoon.