NEW LEBANON, Ohio (WDTN) – A police pursuit through Riverside and Dayton on Sunday is one of several recent incidents to threaten public safety. A man opened fire on officers as he fled. Now, a Montgomery County judge is trying to crack down on people who run from police.
Judge James Piergies spoke passionately about trying to save lives, of children and families in the community, but also the drivers themselves who flee from police. He says fleeing is just not worth it.
Judge Piergies, of the Montgomery County Municipal Court’s Western Division, says, “We have to send a message, especially to our young people that you can’t fly through town at 90 mph and endanger the rest of the populace.”
Judge Piergies committed to making a difference after two teens were killed in March after trying to get away from police. They fled a traffic stop, sped through Trotwood, and eventually slammed into an RTA bus at an estimated 100 miles an hour.
Now, in Judge Piergies’s courtroom, anyone convicted of fleeing and eluding police is sentenced to 180 days in jail, no questions asked.
The judge says, “I meet with the local chiefs twice a year. And I told them it was coming, and they were all in favor of it and they encouraged me to go forward with it.”
Judge Piergies says it was a difficult decision, but he says it’s necessary to deter people from putting others at risk. “No judge likes to impose jail, but I think sometimes it’s the only way to get the message across. And I would like to encourage my friends on the bench to consider this.”
The judge says he’s seen a noticeable change, not just in court but in the community. A few days ago, he was at a neighborhood watch meeting. “There was a lady in the audience who indicated one of her nephews had come before me and was actually doing time. And her statement to me was, ‘he got exactly what he needed,’ because he didn’t respect anybody.”
judge Piergies says he’s already sentenced three people to the maximum 180-day sentence. Previously, an offender could spend as little as a few days in jail waiting for a court date. Sometimes they avoided jail time altogether.