Fatal Peoria County crash leads to police pursuit questions

Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 7:37 PM CST
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PEORIA COUNTY (25 News Now) - An arrest warrant has been issued for the man suspected of leading Peoria County deputies on a chase that ended in a deadly crash. Now, it’s raising questions about the decision to engage in a pursuit with a suspect.

According to a release from Peoria County State’s Attorney Jodi Hoos, Jeremy Perry, 43, is wanted for two counts of Aggravated Driving Under the Influence and one count of Aggravated Fleeing and Eluding. Perry is charged in connection to a police chase through Peoria County Sunday morning, leading to a crash that killed Miriam Schmid of Edwards and sent three others to the hospital near the Shoppes at Grand Prairie. With little information to go on surrounding the details of the incident, questions are being raised as to what lead to the chase in the first place.

Law enforcement officials say when it comes to engaging in a pursuit, the process varies from department to department. But the framework is all based on one set of documents: the Police Pursuit Guidelines from the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board. It’s a broad average of policies from departments across the state, rolled into a single reference. The guidelines explain how to understand what circumstances call for a pursuit in greater detail.

An anonymous law enforcement source says during his time as a field training officer at his department, he based his training around three requirements for a pursuit: the suspect has to actively be eluding you, the person has to have committed a forcible felony, and you can prove the person was armed with a deadly weapon. At this time, it’s unknown what lead to the decision to lead a pursuit, or end it.

Brian Fengel is the Director at the Central Illinois Police Training Center. He says when it comes to decision-making, officers leave it up to a supervisor who isn’t feeling the rush of adrenaline while engaged in the chase.

”They have to evaluate it quick, and of course, at that time, when it’s going on, you don’t have a model policy or a departmental policy in front of you.”

Fengel adds officers spend 99% of their time behind the wheel. That’s why it’s so important for each agency to have their own policy: to appropriately address the needs of each situation as possible and for the characteristics of the entire community.

”There are a lot of agencies that are accredited, there are a lot of agencies that are not,” he says, addressing the need for all departments to have some framework to operate off of.

25News has submitted FOIAs for the Peoria County Sheriff’s pursuit policy. As for the the arrest of Jeremy Perry, the statement from the state’s attorney’s office says the matter is still under investigation, with more charges are expected when the case goes to the grand jury next month. You can read the full story behind the arrest and the crash that lead to it here.