LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - New bond conditions are on the way for anyone arrested in Angelina County who flee and cause a police chase.
Angelina County Precinct One Justice of the Peace Billy Ball has issued a court order that would require those defendants who cause police chases to wear a GPS monitoring device while out on bond. Judge Ball has sent a letter to the other three justice of the peace in Angelina County. According to Ball, so far, Donnie Puckett is the only one who has responded back.
"It has just got really bad, " Ball said. "These chases have gotten out of hand and they are dangerous. This change will hopefully deter people from running from police. It also will not cost the county anything because the defendant will have to pay for the device. if they cannot pay then they will stay in jail until they can."
Ball is working with Recovery Healthcare Corporation that specializes in monitoring devices for the judicial system. Ball said the device will cost $74 to install and then $8-$10 a day for the length of the case.
"The device will be removed either when the case is settled or the defendant is acquitted," Ball said.
Sheriff Greg Sanches approved of Ball's decision.
"These chases are very serious," Sanches said. "It's what we're telling people out there. We're not going to put up with it. We are going to get tougher on it."
Sanches said his deputies have gotten into several chases over the past few weeks after suspects fled from the scene. According to Sanches in one incident, one of the suspects rammed their vehicle into a deputy's vehicle in the chase.
"It's like a missile going down the highway, and if hits somebody at a high rate of speed, somebody is going to be seriously injured or killed," Ball said.
Sanches said the chases do not only cause a risk for officers but also for the general public.
"We had an individual that threw out chain saws and all kinds of other items at our officer in the past," Sanches said. "It not only put the officers in jeopardy but it could also have hit innocent people. Also there are times we have had gun fire."
Ball said he is aware their are critics who believe the cost is not fair to add on to someone already facing other penalties and bond.
"There's not a perfect situation but right now we are looking at trying to save someone's life," Ball said. "If there is a money issue, then I will look into it and I may consider reducing the bond to make up some of the difference."
Ball said he has already signed off on three cases under the new court order. One suspect has been able to bond out but two others remain in jail.