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Interview with Joe Jenkins

Jenkins, Joe
Purdie, Jodi
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with People and Places; Stories and Storytellers
Joe Jenkins is a former Matthews, N.C. police officer who relates a story of a high speed chase on Independence Blvd. under hazardous conditions.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Jodi Purdie interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
JP (Jodie Purdie): How are you doing today?
JJ (Joe Jenkins): I'm doing fine.
JP: You ready to tell a story?
JJ: Yes.
JJ: I'm trying to think of a story I should tell. [Cough] OK. Well, I worked as a police officer for the town of Matthews for about four and a half years until recently. And I'll tell the story of one of my chases and if that doesn't go enough time I'll tell the story of another chase, vehicle chase. Um, [cough] one night after I had arrested my second DWI, I took the DWI down to the intake center, that's the jail in downtown, took him down to the jail and him processed and got him in. And on my way back home, I take Independence Boulevard on the way back into Matthews. And about at probably Idlewild Road, no, probably at Albemarle Road, I got in behind, uh, this is still in Charlotte so it wasn't in my jurisdiction, I got in behind a, uh, an old, like '69 or '70 Oldsmobile Cutlass that had a paper tag. And I didn't think anything about it. [Coughs] I did, I did notice it and that it had a paper tag and that it was primer, primer black, black primer.
JP: Paper tag?
JJ: Paper tag, a 30-day tag.
JJ: And which you can track them, but it's real hard to because it's so, it's common to switch them. And I, we, we were headed outbound on highway, on Independence Blvd, Highway 74 and I noticed he was running about 50 miles an hour, 50, 55. So I got in behind him, or not behind him, but I was in the lane beside of him and he was little bit ahead of me for the turn, for the vehicle was a little ahead of me. And I didn't think anything about it. Well, uh, I noticed he, he sped up to 60 miles an hour. And so I sped up to 60 just to see what he was doing, just to kind of let him know, "Hey you're speeding." You know. And, and we, we're still headed outbound, we cross over, um, we cross over Idlewild and, um, no actually, no this is right prior to Idlewild and he's running 60 miles an hour. And then he goes, he starts going 65 as we, as we cross over Conference. And so I'm going 65. And, um, I got on the radio with Charlotte thinking he might be impaired or you know, drunk or something like that. So I try to get in, get on the, the radio with Charlotte. And as I'm going down the road 65 miles an hour I see the Charlotte police officer on the right hand side sitting in front of, uh, um, that shopping area right, right prior to Conference.
JP: Is that where the Harris Teeter's at?
JJ: Yeah. He's, he's sitting right back up there. And I try to tell Charlotte that we just passed an officer and needless, to say, uh, they didn't get up with him. And so I called my, my sergeant and let him know that I was coming inbound. By this time we were running 70 miles an hour. We're passing, um, the roads were wet, it had been raining that night. And, um, we pass, um, we pass, uh, uh, the car dealerships on our left hand side. We're running 70 as we come past probably the, probably at Harris Boulevard. And so I went ahead and let my units know up ahead as soon as we got into Matthews, he's getting blue lighted. And I felt that he was impaired to go ahead and start another unit then. And so we're running 70, probably 70, a good 70 miles an hour and we go, we pass over Sardis North and right as we get into Matthews about where, uh, Crown Point Executive Drive is, I, uh, told them I was initiating a stop. So I flipped on my blue lights and it was on. He took off and was running about 90 miles an hour and I'm right in behind him, um, I'm keeping radio contact with, um, with dispatch and the other units. And, um, Rich, Brian Rich, evidently came up, uh, Sam Newell and got in behind me. I didn't see him because I was worried about this guy. We're running, we're heading past, we're probably at, at the Pep Boys now, maybe where the Boston Market is. We're running probably a hundred. Um, we got up to, the fastest we got up to on 74 was about 110. And, um, he's still getting on along and, uh, I'm still sticking with him and I felt uncomfortable on the wet roads. And, um, my sergeant, of course, was asking me during the chase, that's, uh, Sergeant Stevens, was making sure that the traffic was, was OK and that I felt OK with the chase. And the, the, the, what the driver was doing, you know, keeping up with all the locations and landmarks which I, I do pretty well, I was ready with that. And dispatch is, you know, telling me whenever I'd call out I'd say, "OK. Independence and Winter Square Drive." And they'd say, "10-four Independence and Winter Square Drive." And I said, "Still continuing eastbound on Highway 74." And, um, so we're running, we're booking on along about 110 or so and I say, uh, "Headquarters, the roads are wet. I don't feel comfortable anymore. I'm going to go ahead and 22 the chase." 10-22 is 'Disregard the Chase,' you know, go ahead and, and let back. I had already called 10-43, which is 'Pursuit.' The minute you call 10-43, basically all radio traffic ceases and you are the, you're the main person. Rich evidently had gotten in behind me and I 22'ed the chase probably about the Highway 51 bridge maybe a little past it. And so as I'm backing off, I'm, I'm still keeping an eye on him if he's slowing down a little bit and he goes to highway, to Matthews-Mint Hill and 74 makes a left hand turn. And so I went ahead and, uh, got back in the chase again because I figured, um, you know, I just figured I'd go ahead, go ahead and chase him because I knew that he couldn't keep up that kind of speed on the, uh, on the Matthews-Mint Hill. And Rich was in behind me by then and so we head on the way down Matthews-Mint Hill, we probably running around 80 or 90 miles an hour. We get to, uh, Providence or, uh, I'm sorry, we get to Highway 51 to Matthews-Mint Hill and he makes that right turn and he slows down for that and so I'm right in behind him, blue lights and sirens all the way. Give them my location and Brian Rich is behind me. And, uh, we're heading out on Idlewild Road, we're, or we're on 51, Matthews-Mint Hill, both being the same now. We get to the Petro, we get to the Petro, now the BP station at Idlewild and 51, he makes a right heading towards Union County. And, uh, so we start heading down that way and, uh, we're going on down Idlewild Road, keep right on going, cross over 485, construction which it was under construction at that point, and, um, we're, we're running a good clip. And, uh, by that time, what I had done, was, you know, at about 51 or so I had switched over, I was talking to Charlotte-Mecklenburg and the Highway Patrol on my main car radio and talking to Matthews dispatch on my hand held, as, as I'm driving. Um, Rich, Brian Rich is still behind me and as we didn't have our new radio tower up, had we had the radio tower up, I would be able to maintain contact with Matthews on my hand-held, but the hand-helds don't transmit very well. Um, so, I mean, I was still maintaining contact and they could still hear me on, uh, Mutual Aid, but the thing was I should have been on Matthews, uh, main channel on my car radio because it transmits stronger. Uh, [cough] Brian's still behind me and, um, so I'm getting on with the Highway Patrol, trying to have the Highway Patrol come and, and meet with me because we're heading towards Union County. Not that I can't chase into Union county, but I'd much rather have the Highway Patrolman out there myself, because they'll ram somebody off the road in a heartbeat.
JP: [Laughs]
JJ: Not really, but, uh, they're better at chases, they've had training in chases. And, um, so we start going over some hills down Idlewild Road and Brian Rich loses me. Um, or I should say, both of us lost him. I'm still maintaining contact with, with Highway Patrol and, uh, they're hearing me fine and, uh, they're trying to get somebody out there to me. But as we down to, we're heading, we're getting into Union County a good ways and we get down to, we cross over Stevens Mill, and there's the next road pass Steven's Mill, I think it's Union Mill or Indian Trail Road, I'm not exactly sure. And there's a BP station right there. They lost me and I'm still transmitting on Mutual Aid because I didn't see any units around me and I knew we were headed towards a Highway Patrol station, because they're down there on Seacrest short cut and pretty soon Unionville Road or Idlewild I think turns into Seacrest short cut, I believe. And, uh, so my sergeant gets on the radio and says, uh, you know, "321 if you can copy me. 22 your chase. 22 your chase." And so I disregarded my chase and parked at the BP station and, uh, advised Highway Patrol that I was being 22'ed by my sergeant. And, uh, so I parked there and kind of calmed down for a few minutes and here comes Rich and here comes Sergeant Stevens. And so he, both pulls in, they both pull in, you know, and I let them know that I lost him and then a Highway Patrolman comes up and, uh, asks, "Which way did he go?" and I say, "He went down that way." And so he heads out that way spinning tires trying, trying to catch up to the guy. My best guess is what he did was, when I 22'ed, he probably took a side road and uh, headed, headed out into the county somewhere.
JP: So he was never caught?
JJ: No. Never caught. My, I probably, he was either, it probably wasn't a stolen car or anything like that. Probably what had happened was his license was revoked, or he was DWI, or something like that, and, uh, but, but the whole thing about it was, had I maintained contact with Matthews on my main radio, we would have probably caught him or at least been able to get the Highway Patrol up there and they could have assumed the chase. And of course, I would have to have been the secondary unit because I, I started the chase. So--.
JP: Did you get into trouble?
JJ: No Harris just told me, "Next time be on your radio." And Glenn, one of the dispatchers up there, he goes "We didn't have to do anything. Uh, you were contacting Highway Patrol and you were contacting us and basically you were doing our job for us." But I knew that was wrong thing to do. But at the time I didn't know where any of my other units were. I knew Rich was behind me but I had lost sight of him. Pat said he was just afraid that I had, uh, that I had wrecked or something like that. That I was, you know, in the woods somewhere up against a tree in my patrol car after running 90 miles an hour down Idlewild Road as it gets curvy. But that was the story of my one chase.
JP: Thank you.
JJ: You're very welcome.