WASHINGTON CITY — A report of a stolen vehicle led St. George Police and Washington City Police to conduct a felony stop in the parking lot of Wal-Mart in Washington Saturday night only to find the registered owner had failed to report that her vehicle had been returned.
After St. George Communications Center received a report of a stolen vehicle from a woman who said she had lent her vehicle out and it had not been returned, Washington City Police and St. George Police were dispatched to find the missing vehicle, said Washington City Police Sgt. Ed Kantor.
At 9:47 p.m. police officers located the vehicle in the Wal-Mart parking lot, located at 625 W. Telegraph St. in Washington.
“Something big is happening,” Christian Warmsley texted St. George News at 9:58 p.m. with photos. “Guns were drawn,” he said.
Cody Pitcher also witnessed the stop. “It appeared from across the parking lot as though one officer had his weapon drawn,” he wrote in an email.
Kantor said it is standard protocol to draw weapons on a felony stop.
“I can’t say for certain if they had their guns drawn,” Kantor said. “But I can say that is standard protocol for felony stops. They respond with appropriate force until they know if there is a real threat. If it’s determined as not a threat, the force de-escalates.”
Once the officers approached the vehicle it was found that the vehicle had been returned to the owner. Police ran warrant checks for all individuals in the vehicle and all were cleared. No arrests were made and no citations were written.
“They were able to sort it out,” he said.
This type of occurrence is quite common Kantor said and this incident offers an example to remind the public that if you report something — stolen property, missing person, anything — and the status changes, notify police dispatch immediately. Whenever a person reports a circumstance to the police, the information is recorded onto the National Crime Information Computer database, which is a nationwide system. Until the information is cleared it remains on the database as an active case.
Oftentimes reporting citizens will find a missing child or stolen vehicle but will neglect to report it to the police. This puts officers in a situation where safety becomes a key factor especially in situations of auto-theft, which is a second-degree felony, or missing persons, Kantor said. Officers then follow protocol and perform felony stops where they must draw their guns for protection.
“It’s not an overreaction,” Kantor said. “We believe: plan for the worst, hope for the best.”
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