NORWAY – Police say a 16-year-old Bethel driver was apparently oblivious to a police cruiser’s loud siren and flashing lights Thursday afternoon as police tried for more than a mile to pull her over on Route 26.

The teen was stopped at about 1:30 p.m. and charged with failure to stop for a police officer after cruisers from Paris, Norway and Oxford converged on her 1999 Dodge Durango in front of Johnston’s Auto & Radiator Shop on Route 26 near the Oxford town line.

“She didn’t even know I was there,” said Paris police Lt. Michael Dailey. He said the incident started at about 1:15 p.m. when he got a call from an off-duty police officer in the Olympia Sports store on Route 26 in Paris. The off-duty officer told Dailey the store manager suspected the woman might be a shoplifter.

With a description of her vehicle, Dailey said he was able to catch up with the vehicle and get right behind it at nearby Walgreens, farther south on Route 26 in Norway. He said the teenager got stuck in traffic and he was able to get around her vehicle and pull her over. Oxford police officer Alan Coffin pulled across the two-lane highway and in front of her vehicle.

“It was something like you see on TV,” said Frank Paul of Paris, a customer at Johnston’s Auto & Radiator shop, who watched the scene. “She had nowhere to go,” Paul said.

Although Paul said police “pulled a gun” on the driver and told her to put “her hands in the air,” Dailey said both he and Coffin had their guns unholstered but did not “pull a gun” on her.

“There was no gun pulled on her,” Dailey said. “Our guns were probably unholstered because we don’t know what we’re dealing with.”

The teen was taken out of her vehicle and handcuffed, he said.

Dailey said he police and the girl never went more than 35 miles per hour throughout the incident, and she never made any passing moves as if to elude police.

Trying to determine how the driver could miss the cruiser behind her is another matter, Dailey said. The driver was not talking on her cell phone, but it is not known if she was listening to her radio.

“She said she just didn’t see the lights and siren,” Dailey said. “To drive about a mile and not to pay attention for that long. I don’t think there’s any excuse,” he said.

Dailey said the siren in his Explorer cruiser “is louder than most.”

He said the car was searched and although there was a lot of clothing in it, there was nothing that appeared to be from Olympia Sports.

By not acknowledging a police cruiser in this instance, Dailey said, “It makes us think there is more to it. You never know.”
The driver was detained and released. A parent was contacted by police. The incident isl under investigation.

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Paris police Sgt. Hartley “Skip” Mowatt consoles a 16-year-old Bethel driver as she speaks on her cell phone after police pursued her about a mile along Route 26 from Paris to Norway on Thursday afternoon.


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