LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11)-- The day after a 58 minute car chase wrecked six police cars and spanned from Jeffersontown all the way to Pleasure Ridge Park, Jeffersontown Police Chief Rick Sanders has had a chance to breathe and look back on how fortunate it is that no one was hurt.
“Also realize there is a lot of luck involved with this,” he said with a smile. “I thank God was on our side and I'm glad he was because nobody was injured."
In a one-on-one interview with WHAS11 Wednesday, Sanders went back through the car chase that ended with 30-year-old Travis Mettling behind bars and facing a long list of charges.
"I commend my officers for the way that this happened, the way it was handled and the way it ended,” Sanders said.
The chase ended with no guns being fired and the suspect as well as officers only having minor injuries. For Sanders, the way his department handled the situation was a success. WHAS11 asked him about the cost a chase like this can put on his department, but he adamantly insisted that when it comes to keeping his town safe, there is no amount of money that matters.
"That's really not something I think about,” Sanders said. “When we are involved in something like this or any kind of an action, I don't care what the cost is we are going to do whatever it takes to protect the public."
One way that Sanders and his department tried to peacefully end the situation was by having one of his sergeants talk to Mettling via cell phone. Sanders was able to share some of the details of that conversation and said this particular sergeant has extensive training in hostage negotiations.
“There were a lot of things the sergeant talked to him about,” Sanders explained. “For instance [Mettling] has a child and the sergeant said, ‘Think about this: if your child was on the side of the street and this was going on and your child were to be injured, how would you feel about that as a parent?’ The sergeant did a great job and I was encouraged for a while that the suspect was going to stop the vehicle and we were not going to have to do what we did in the end."
However, in the end, the Jefferstontown Police Department did have to take action to capture Mettling by forcing him into a wreck and cornering him with cars as well as officers on foot. Sanders felt frustrated that his department had to protect the public from someone he believes should have already been behind bars. When Sanders saw Mettling’s criminal history, he couldn’t believe that someone like that was out on the street and in the end threatened the lives of citizens during the car chase as well as Jeffersontown and Louisville Metro police officers.
“We always talk about the police after these on how we did, what we did, why we didn't do this or that, but we never focus on what I think is the real problem which is why is this guy running from the police?" Sanders said. “That's unacceptable. This guy just risked the lives of my officers, the public, everybody involved in this pursuit and I think he should be dealt with harshly.”
So harshly, in fact, that Sanders vows to be at every single one of Mettling's court appearances to make sure he does adequate time for this chase. At the same time, Sanders did say that he hopes that while locked up Mettling gets the help he needs to combat his drug addiction.
"We need to deal with that. If he needs treatment, get him treatment,” Sanders said. “Let's don't release him today hoping he'll get treatment down the road. We spend 80 percent of our time on 20 percent of the people, and it seems like the repeat offenders that we have to deal with on a regular basis. I recognize that we can't arrest everybody and keep them in jail. I get that, but this is a guy who should be kept in jail for what he did to my department, to my community yesterday. I think he should be held accountable."
With regards to those asking if this chase was worth it, Sanders said he fully supports the decision to go after Mettling. He posed the question: what happens if his officers don’t go on the chase and down the road Mettling attacks one or multiple citizens or even another officer?
“I would not have been able to sleep at night,” said Sanders thinking about that possibility. "Had he been wanted strictly for a traffic violation we would not have chased him; but, this guy has violence in his past - domestic violence which could end in death. These are serious allegations against him. Those are the kinds of things we take into consideration when we decide whether to chase or not to chase. I really want to emphasize the fact that this suspect if you look at his rap sheet, and he has an extensive rap sheet, and the fact that he's out on the street and he's the one orchestrating this pursuit, that really causes me concern."