By ALICIA LEONARD
On July 10, 2008, officers of the DeFuniak Springs Police Department (DFSPD) were involved in a two-car accident. One of those officers had to be flown to a Pensacola hospital after suffering a shoulder injury. In an effort to keep readers informed, the Herald sat down with DFSPD Marshal Mike Adkinson Jr. to clear up any questions surrounding the accident and to find out how those officers were faring.
Adkinson described the events leading up to the accident, “There was call placed, like a be-on-look-out (BOLO) for a possible drug courier vehicle. My understanding is there was contact with another law enforcement agency before that call was placed, but the officers were not aware of the suspects and the vehicle wasn’t stopped. It got spotted somewhere again, in our area later, around the city limits, along the interstate. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) interdiction unit was preparing to pull them over. They normally do not do just stops on vehicles. It’s a canine unit, so, they called for back up. Happens all the time.
“We got the call and sent a marked unit, as well as an unmarked unit, because if something is found, it’s a good idea to have an investigator on scene. They were traveling southbound, pulled up to the medium, came to a complete stop, looks, does not see any oncoming traffic in the inside lane of northbound traffic. He went from from a dead stop to a roll toward the east exit and was hit. He wasn’t even going five miles an hour upon impact. The suspect continued on his way and the officer requesting assistance in the first place stopped following the vehicle and rendered assistance to the officers in need as did the other marked patrol in route,” said Adkinson.
The officers sent out word that they were pulling off surveillance from the vehicle to attend the accident victims and the vehicle slipped away.
Adkinson also stated that the officers were never involved in a pursuit as has been published in other media outlets. “We were never in pursuit. I don’t allow pursuit on these types of issues. Our policy is very restrictive where pursuits are concerned and in comparison with other agencies in our area,” Adkinson explained.
“We were at fault for the accident, but I requested that the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) come in and investigate the accident. We had the ability and jurisdiction to investigate the accident ourselves, but in a political season, I thought it would be best for all involved to ask for an outside agency to preform the investigation surrounding the accident,” Adkinson explained.
The accident was costly in more ways then one. Adkinson said he had received unconfirmed reports that the suspicious vehicle was apprehended near the Houston, Texas, with $229,000 on board. Since the DFSPD never made contact with the driver, none of those funds seized will come back to the city.
Adkinson said he’s most relieved his officers made it through the crash. “The people are what is important. It was a costly accident. We totaled a car. We lost possible seized funds, but our people are okay and the officer who was driving was disciplined as well. All of the officers have recovered and they have all reported back to duty and we are happy to have them back.”