INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The speed limit on West 38th Street just west of the art museum is 45 mph, and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department patrols routinely catch drivers going from 20 mph or more over the speed limit.
“The top five that I have stopped people for through here are 101 (mph), 102, 103, 107 and 119 –119 in a 45,” said Officer Marlin Sechrist, a community affairs officer with IMPD’s northwest district.
As for the excessive speeder, those hitting 100 mph or greater, Sechrist said he hadn’t experienced that kind of speed until the pandemic.
The lead foot complaints land on Sechrist’s desk. “It is an ongoing problem because of the high speeds and multiple fatalities we have had through here.”
The officer has been with the department almost 20 years, and this stretch of asphalt on West 38th Street is part of his beat. Earlier this month, News 8 went along with him to patrol 38th Street and see if the complaints were valid. Within a few minutes of setting up the radar, Sechrist spotted what appeared to be a speeder.
“He made a quick change around; hit my lights to indicate I’m here. They saw us now; he is slamming on the brake,” Sechrist said during a patrol with News 8.
The driver came to a complete stop before coming alongside the police car, and then takes off.
As Sechrist moved up on the speeder again — allowing the driver time to move over to the right side of the road and stop — the driver approached the stoplight at 38th and Cold Spring Road. Suddenly, the driver took a hard left and ran through a red light.
“Hold on, guys. He’s running,” Sechrist said.
The chase lasted less than 10 seconds.
Sechrist announced over the radio, “I’m terminating. He took off from a traffic stop southbound, 38th and Cold Springs. I’m not pursuing — 84 (mph) in a 45.”
Sechrist did not chase the driver, for one reason, News 8 were guests in the car. The decision also involved the safety of other drivers.
Police recorded the make, model and plate number of the car, which was broadcast over the police radio.
“Our policy is when someone takes off from a traffic stop like that, we put it on the radio, what’s going on, that they took off from the traffic stop. That way, other officers in the area know about it.”
Sechrist added that “obviously that is a felony they just committed for refusing to pull over. In my experience, that is about the sixth or seventh time that has happened at this location.”
A few minutes later, News 8 learned the owner of the car had an outstanding warrant for resisting arrest and dealing drugs, and was considered to armed and dangerous. Sechrist said police will pay him a visit at his home.
News 8 received an update from IMPD on the search for the owner of the car Monday morning:
“This individual currently has an active warrant, unrelated to the traffic stop. The officer was not aware of this at the time and has since shared his information with other units and officers on the district. Officers in the area continue active patrols.”
IMPD made a second stop on the day News 8 joined Sechrist. The vehicles was a brown SUV clipping right along on 38th Street. Sechrist got the SUV stopped, and then got out of his patrol car and approached the vehicle and spoke to the female driver.
“Is there a reason you were doing 69 mph in a 45-mph zone?”
The response: “No”
When Sechrist returned to the SUV later, he said, “I didn’t mention it earlier but obviously I can smell weed, right. How long ago did you smoke it?”
The driver admitted to smoking pot before getting behind the wheel of the car.
Sechrist responded to the SUV driver, “Before I let you drive away, I have to do a couple of field sobriety tests to make sure you are OK to drive. OK, can you step out for me? If you pass the test, you will be out of here with a ticket.”
She passed the field sobriety test and was sent on her way with a speeding ticket.
One last stop of the day with News 8, Sechrist spotted a vehicle pulling away from traffic and stopped it.
“Hi, I’m Officer Sechrist with IMPD. The reason you got stopped, you were doing 75 mph in a 45-mph zone.”
As it turned out, the driver had never had a driver’s license. Sechrist and his road partner gave the driver a ticket and waited for a relative with a valid driver’s license came to pick up the car.
Overall, Sechrist said, the day with News 8 in typical not only for his IMPD district, but for patrol officers across Indianapolis.
“Honestly, it is, and not just for our unit. It is everywhere in the city. Again, we are not focusing on the people of the general public that are just doing 1-2 mph over the speed limit. We are looking for those aggressive drivers that are putting themselves and everybody else in danger. So when people are driving that way, they typically have other issues going on and that is why we focus on those individuals.”