Agencies joined forces to make arrest in chase

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There were no shootouts last week when police arrested an accused bank robber on Interstate 20 in McDuffie County.

No car wrecks either, despite rush-hour traffic and pursuit speeds of more than 80 mph.

Authorities credit their success to coordinated communication after the robbery of the Bank of America branch on Washington Road.

Still, they say, it wasn't easy.

"It was a logistical nightmare," said Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Scott Gay, one of several who helped coordinate the chase that involved the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, the McDuffie County Sheriff's Office, the Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Each agency used handheld radios to coordinate its officers. Cell phones and emergency dispatchers were used to communicate among agencies.

Because of their radio frequencies, Richmond County deputies are not able to communicate directly with neighboring agencies on an interstate channel, Lt. Gay said.

Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said his department can communicate with the Georgia State Patrol.

Solving such technological challenges is at the heart of a statewide interoperable communications system. However, it has yet to be implemented in Richmond County.

Despite technical differences, authorities said they were delighted with the coordination.

Sheriff's Lt. Scott Peebles said his department had practiced a similar scenario in the past, but he was surprised at how the operation came together.

"We practiced it with just our agency and didn't get it that smooth," he said.

Lt. Gay said authorities were initially unsure what type of car the suspect was driving, but they did have a description of him and used that to set up deputies along the roadway as spotters. Point men were assigned to each department and were using their mobile telephones to coordinate with their counterparts, he said.

"We were having to visually inspect each car as they passed by," Lt. Gay said. "We had people on both sides of the road and people that matched the description (of the suspect) were pulled over."

With a Georgia State Patrol helicopter hovering above, authorities eventually spotted Alex Rodger III and stopped his car at a roadblock. Cash and a gun were found in the vehicle, and he was arrested on armed robbery and gun charges.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (11) Add comment
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patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 02/18/09 - 02:10 am
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Way to go guys. It's good to

Way to go guys. It's good to see the police get positive p.r. when they do their job right.

As It Is
2
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As It Is 02/18/09 - 02:24 am
0
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Excellent job to all agencies

Excellent job to all agencies and law enforcement officers involved. I am sure the fine women working at Bank of America greatly appreciate knowing this thug with a gun who terrorized them is now behind bars, again. The Georgia inter-agency communication systems are deplorable and way behind where they need to be. Many situations require officers from various agencies and the lack of proper communication greatly hampers their ability to effectively do their jobs. In 9/11, it was determined that poor and ineffective communication systems cost the lives of many police officers and fire fighters. The loss of their lives unnecessarily was deplorable and the cost far greater afterwards dealing with their deaths vs. improved communication systems being purchased as they should have been. Our officers deserve the very best equipment to work with in order to save and protect theirselves and us - at the very least, they need to be able to effectively communicate with each other via their vehicle and hand held radios.

belle
311
Points
belle 02/18/09 - 07:35 am
0
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My teenager was on a charter
Unpublished

My teenager was on a charter bus returning from a field trip when the police began swarming in on the suspect and the helicopter landed on the roadside next to the bus...she was never frightened, just impressed and excited. Good job guys!

Motorman5039
0
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Motorman5039 02/18/09 - 08:11 am
0
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Good job officers...As far as

Good job officers...As far as it being a technological challenge for Richmond County deputies to be able to communicate to neighboring agencies, well, that is a bunch of bs, all it takes if for the creation of a comlink channel by communications...Better yet, why don't someone from RCSD command staff or dispatch go talk to someone from CCSD command staff or dispatch and find out what they use to be able to communicate with GSP?

3M3T1B
9
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3M3T1B 02/18/09 - 08:30 am
0
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So what did the various law

So what did the various law enforcement departments do with all that homeland security money they got after 9-11? Wasn't that earmarked for upgrading telecomm equipment?

Roadkill
0
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Roadkill 02/18/09 - 09:20 am
0
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Good job to all agencies.

Good job to all agencies. Now, having a communication background, it wouldn't be that hard to add another channel to the radios for inter-agency communication, provided the bandwidth needed is available.

john
1212
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john 02/18/09 - 10:25 am
0
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I agree with 3M.

I agree with 3M. interoperability has been arond big since sept 11. lots of money for interoperable radio systems. lots of local first responders jsut bought new radios that still wont talk to other organizations. They should check out SC and their palmetto 800 system.

curly123053
5378
Points
curly123053 02/18/09 - 10:38 am
0
0
Interagency telecom was

Interagency telecom was pretty much accomplished with the Homeland Security grants in SC, mainly Aiken County and Barnwell County. I can remember several times in Barnwell County where a car would file in behind our ambulance doing a code 3 transport from Barnwell to Aiken or Augusta so they could follow us through intersections without stopping. When we contacted Barnwell dispatch about the tailgater a few seconds later a law enforcement officer would come up on the EMS channel for more info and the tailgater would get stopped and arrested. Interagency communications worked good down there as well as in Aiken County. What is the problem Richmond County? Maybe the Emergency Prepapredness director should help set up a system to improve interagency telecoms? You figure a county the size of Richmond would be one of the 1st to implement interagency telecoms thereby causing the smaller counties to want to see how they did it. Not be one of the last ones !

curly123053
5378
Points
curly123053 02/18/09 - 10:48 am
0
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Thank you John, your posting

Thank you John, your posting as I was typing went well with my experiences in Barnwell County. SC made interagency telecoms one of their priorities after 9/11 and it pays off.

jack
10
Points
jack 02/18/09 - 01:08 pm
0
0
Great job guys/gals! We owe

Great job guys/gals! We owe a lot to our police agencies for the great juob they do. We should be paying them what they are worth.

gnx
7
Points
gnx 02/18/09 - 03:14 pm
0
0
Great job for catching the

Great job for catching the criminal - but all those vehicles involved in the I-20 portion of the chase were unnecessary and dangerous. I counted at least 8 cars from Richmond County alone whipping madly through heavy traffic in construction zones. Many of those cars were 5-10 minutes behind the original cars chasing the suspect. By this time many of CC's cars had joined in the chase, rendering the inclusion of additional vehicles from RC completely unnecessary. I believe a friend of mine said she counted about 40 cars parked on either side of I-20 when she passed the area where the criminal was apprehended and most of them were still there 30 minutes later when she was making a return trip. I realize there are some who will say 'whatever it takes' but I believe many of these cars should have remained out of the chase, especially once it crossed county lines. The first two RC cars should have been sufficient and CC could also have limited their number of cars once SP and DNR were involved. What would have happened had RC or CC experienced another robbery or a vehicle accident in one of the areas left unattended by all those extra cars?

curly123053
5378
Points
curly123053 02/18/09 - 06:10 pm
0
0
Sounds like it was a little

Sounds like it was a little bit on the overkill side of things, but at least they got him with nobody hurt.

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