The streets of north Greenville were unusually quiet and serene that spring evening. I was making my rounds, watching for signs of burglaries and checking the alleys behind the businesses along Lee Street, the old main thoroughfare through downtown.
I’d been looking to the right down a side alley, and then turned my sight forward just in the nick of time. An oncoming vehicle had swerved halfway into my lane and I barely avoided a head-on collision.
Time for a little classic Officer Frazier Patrolman Number 14 action.
I slammed on the brakes, twisted the steering wheel hard to the left, yanked the gear shift into reverse and executed a beautiful bat-mobile reverse 180 with one of the tires churning out a cloud of acrid white smoke as the Goodyear Eagle rubber vulcanized against the asphalt.
The gear shift popped in protest as I forced it into drive while the car was still sliding in reverse, then I floored the accelerator and the pursuit package V8 roared in the joy of a newly initiated speed challenge. My Caprice Classic gained velocity and the distance between it and my intended prey closed in a matter of seconds. The violator was speeding along in excess of 32 miles per hour as I loomed up on his back bumper and hit my overhead lights.
At the very next intersection he turned right and decelerated to 30 mph, but it soon became obvious he had no intention of stopping. We continued to the next intersection, where he properly signaled and made another left turn. Assuming I had a drunk on my hands, I hit the siren, knowing from my extensive law enforcement training that the wailing screech would penetrate his fogged mind and make him realize that the long arm of Texas justice was flagging him down.
At the next intersection he made another left and continued at his leisurely place, all the while my massive cruiser was wailing and flashing like a rolling Vegas slot machine on a jackpot spin right on his bumper.
I decided to call for backup after a quick mental calculation that told me a pit maneuver probably wouldn’t be effective on a 1972 Toronado at 27 miles per hour.
The patrolman from the central east side of town fell in behind me in a Ford Taurus, which would have been useless in a high speed chase, but was as good as baby bear’s porridge for this one. We continued the pursuit with the violator signaling and turning at every intersection randomly right or left.
One of the local troopers was in the area and hearing the chatter on the police frequency decided to join in the chase, just in case things really got out of hand and us local boys ended up needing a hand from the State.
Soon after my Sergeant, who had decided to leave his desk and offer his supervision skills to the endeavor caught up to us and fell in behind the state trooper.
There we were, a big lumbering circa 1972 Toronado followed by four marked law enforcement vehicles with every light, siren, and PA available blasting an array of stunning sound and visual effects into the night.
Finally the Oldsmobile turned into a driveway and came to a lumbering halt.
Charged with adrenaline I bolted from my squad car, and suddenly fell back as if a giant hand had reached out and yanked me back into my seat.
So I unbuckled my seatbelt and erupted out of the squad car, whipping my collapsible baton out of its holster and snapping it open with a skilled flick of the wrist that would strike mortal fear into the heart of any felon.
Trembling with anticipation of a good, clean, fair fight with overwhelming odds on my side (considering half the law enforcement officers in the county were only inches behind me) I arrived at the door of the violator’s vehicle and asked him in my most professional command presence tone, “Sir, just what the hell do you think you are doing?”
I’ll remember the elderly driver’s answer to my dying day:
“Son, I seen you back there with your lights and siren on and knew you was in a hurry to get somewhere. I’ve been taking every turn I can to try to get outta your way.”