Police praise Air-1 helicopter's role in pursuit of stolen vehicles
Man, woman charged in separate incidents that both began in city's North End
A pair of stolen car chases ended with the arrests of a man and woman as police wrapped up the end of 2019 in Winnipeg.
Around 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 31, officers driving near Charles Street and College Avenue in the city's North End spotted a car that was reported stolen a day earlier in the town of Elie.
They began following it until the vehicle hit Main Street and the speeds increased substantially. The Air-1 police helicopter tracked the car from above, recording its speed as reaching 140 km/h at times, in a 60 km/h zone.
In West Kildonan, near the Kildonan Park Golf Course, the driver of the stolen car pulled off the road and tried to cross the median but got stuck.
Using thermal imaging cameras, Air-1 captured video that showed the driver and a passenger climb out and run toward the city's water pollution control plant.
Police ground crews were directed by Air-1 and quickly caught up to the driver and passenger in the area. A 26-year-old man, who was driving the stolen car, is charged with possession of stolen property, leading police on a chase, and failing to comply with prior court conditions.
The female passenger was released without charges.
The same night, about a half hour later, officers spotted another stolen car in the North End.
The vehicle, driving on Selkirk Avenue near Powers Street, had been taken from the West Alexander area a few days earlier.
Again, as police began following, the car sped off at dangerous speeds. Air-1 was called in as the ground units disengaged.
The stolen vehicle drove erratically through a residential area along Machray Avenue, running stop signs. The car eventually did a U-turn in the 700 block of Machray and drove in the direction of oncoming police cruisers.
All vehicles slowed but couldn't avoid a minor head-on collision, police said.
A 24-year-old woman who was driving the stolen car was charged with assaulting a peace officer with a weapon, dangerous operation of a vehicle, possession of stolen property, and failure to comply with prior court orders.
Const. Jay Murray said police decided to release the videos "to show the capabilities of the helicopter."
"In both these cases, we feel [Air-1] was instrumental in preventing an extended pursuit and helping us take these individuals into custody."
The helicopter provides police with the ability to pull back from high-speed road chases, directing ground crews in a way that greatly reduces the risks to officers and the public, Murray said.
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