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CHASE THROUGH NEIGHBORHOOD WAS UNJUSTIFIED, RESIDENTS SAY

Dolph Conrads was relaxing in his living room when he heard the noise.

"It sounded like a top-fuel dragster tearing through my neighborhood."He rushed out of his house to see a Utah Highway Patrol car chasing a man on a high-performance motorcycle up and then down 1200 East at what Highway Patrol officials said was close to 90 mph.

"You could hear the engines roaring. It brought everyone out of their houses," he said.

The chase angered residents and left them wondering why the trooper decided to pursue the motorcycle on a street lined with homes and didn't end the chase even though he knew the name and address of the motorcycle's owner.

"I could hear the lady across the street yelling, `They could kill somebody!' She was visibly upset," Conrads said.

The pursuit started on I-80 when Trooper Charlton Whiting clocked the motorcyclist at 95 mph. Whiting gave chase but stopped when the man exited at 2300 East, attempted to turn and skidded the motorcycle on its side.

As Whiting approached the man, he tipped the "bullet bike" up and sped away. Whiting didn't pursue because he had radioed the license plate number to headquarters and thought troopers could locate the owner later, Sgt. Gary Whitney said.

Trooper Joe Reynolds heard an attempt-to-locate call put out by dispatchers for the motorcycle and went to the owner's home, 1909 S. 1300 East. But troopers weren't sure the motorcycle's owner was the driver involved in the chase. As Reynolds waited, a motorcycle matching the description drove nearby. The trooper pulled in behind, but the driver did not stop - leading to the chase.

"Our policy leaves it to the discretion of the officer involved - if there is an opportunity to apprehend the violator later, the trooper could and might postpone the chase," Whitney said.

But Reynolds had to pursue the motorcyclist to check the license plate and attempt to stop the man for questioning, Whitney said.

Residents disagree.

"Even if the guy had killed someone and he was from in-state, I would have drawn the line and said there was a better time to get him," Conrads said. "Speeding is no reason to chase through here."

Another resident who wishes to remain anonymous said several small children play in the area and adults jog nearby.

"A high-speed chase should not be allowed in this area - especially if they had his address and name. This is a family neighborhood," she said.

Other residents recalled James H. Pratt, who was killed May 17 only 11/2 blocks away after a car chased by Salt Lake police officers slammed into the side of his car.

Pratt, 36, was married and had one daughter.

"I knew Jim, and that's one of the first things I thought of when I saw that car and motorcycle fly through here," one witness said.

Pratt's death prompted Salt Lake police administrators to change their policy on pursuits. The new policy states that unless an officer is justified in using deadly force, they're not justified to engage in a high-speed chase.

Whitney said UHP troopers in the Salt Lake area have been instructed to honor that policy. "Both troopers involved in the chase Monday honored that policy," he said.

The neighbors' objections "raise some touchy issues," Whitney said.

"If we start abandoning every chase when suspects go into a dangerous area, criminals that should be apprehended are going to get away," he said.