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And the chase was on...

"Not a day goes by when law enforcement officers don't make split-second decisions. Last Sunday was no exception for Port Orchard Police officers and Kitsap County Sheriff deputies who were involved in a high-speed chase that canvassed city and county streets.In the end, Port Orchard resident Steven Gunderson was taken into custody after allegedly trying to run down a PO police officer with a stolen minivan.Authorities said the 27-year-old man stole the vehicle from a shopping center parking lot and fled from deputies.The object for police seemed clear: Nab the bad guy.It was 5:30 a.m., and no one was up and around, so deputies gave chase. They later pulled out their guns on the unarmed Gunderson.What would have happened if the ordeal occurred during rush hour while plenty of people were about?What if joggers and bikers were out navigating the area's public roads that often lack adequate shoulders?You run, we chase, said PO Police Sgt. Dave Loflin.Loflin, who's worked in law enforcement for more than 20 years, said individual officers make their own decisions based on common sense, training and the situation.We just try to be aware of our surroundings and hope we know at the time that we're right, he said.So here's a piece of advice to not take with a grain of salt: If you detect a high-speed chase in your neighborhood, or-worse-in your car's rearview mirror, get out of the way.Citizens are notorious for gawking, said Sgt. Craig Montgomery of the Sheriff Department. He added that earlier last week, he drew his gun on some armed suspects across a roadway. Meanwhile, steady streams of traffic closed the rift in the standoff. He said he couldn't believe it.We have to secure the safety of the officers on the field, Montgomery said. Because if we're gone, who's going to stop the bad guys?According to authoritiees, Gunderson nabbed a minivan a woman had left in the Port Orchard Thriftway parking lot about 5:30 a.m., its motor running and the key in the ignition, while she was in the store shopping. When the 59-year-old discovered her vehicle had been stolen, she called called the police.Within minutes, city and county officers werelooking for the minivan. Two deputies finally eyeballed it traveling eastbound on Lund Avenue near Bethel Avenue. At that point, the vehicle headed across Blackjack Creek Bridge, topping 70 miles per hour, police said. Eventually, the vehicle made a U-turn and headed north on Jackson Avenue toward Mile Hill Drive. That's where Port Orchard officer Bob McFann stood waiting with spike strips, hoping to flatten the minivan's tires as it topped the hill.The vehicle went straight for McFann and he dropped the strips and ran for cover.He wasn't hurt. Ultimately, deputies cornered the van at the dead-end of Edwards Court in Retsil. They held the suspect at gunpoint-with houses in full sight on either side of the roadway-before arresting him on suspicion of first-degree assault, felony eluding and first-degree theft. Deputies said they are still investigating the origin of a locked safe found within the stolen vehicle at the time of the man's arrest.We had no choice, we had to pull a gun out on him, though we didn't want to put anyone at undue risk, Montgomery said.Officers are trained, he said, to change lines of fire. They can run behind garbage cans or trees or crouch behind cars, reducing the risk of gunfire in someone's backyard. But officers can only do so much.For bystanders, it's best just to go inside, Montgomery advised."

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