Little did a detective with the Berea Police Department, Robert “Bob” Surgenor, know when he strapped a camera in his police car on a fateful day in May 1988 that he was about to make history. When a call came over the radio about a robbery at a Radio Shack in the Ohio community, Surgenor turned on the camera and captured the first-ever onboard video of a police pursuit of a stolen car.
Of course police chase videos are downright commonplace these days, but when this footage was shared people were astounded. Up to that point the only time people saw police chases was when they witnessed the suspects and cops speeding by. Never before had the public seen what officers do during a pursuit.
The chase didn’t start off with blistering speeds, but instead the three suspects take it easy in their stolen car. However, as the chase progresses it gets faster and the close calls start coming hot and heavy. By the time the suspects and police reach the highway they’re going up to 120 mph. That might not sound like all that fast these days but back in 1988 it was plenty fast for those cars.
One thing that’s unique is the tactics used to stop a fleeing car. There’s no PIT maneuver or Stop Sticks deployed. Instead, police set up a roadblock on the highway and the suspects ram one of the police cars. Sure, they get through the roadblock but the damaged car doesn’t make it much further and they’re swarmed by police.
Sadly, Bob Surgenor passed away on December 16, 2018. Among the things noted about his police service was pioneering the use of dashcams, something which not only provides entertainment for people online but also has helped police fight false accusations against them and helped victims of bad cops get justice.
Check out the historic police chase for yourself.