One of the few things that we know about the recent high-speed chase in Winthrop was that it ended in a serious crash. Another is that it could have been much worse.

Glen Witham, 39, is in critical condition after leading police on a four-town chase that ended with a head-on collision on Route 202 with an SUV driven by a woman who was eight months pregnant.

She is recovering at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, where doctors are monitoring her baby.

Both could be dead, along with countless other motorists and the pursuing deputies who were put at risk by Witham.

State and local police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the chase and are not releasing many details to the public. That should end soon, because just as when an officer uses deadly force, there are legitimate questions that the public needs answered.

It is still unknown why the Androscoggin County sheriff’s deputies were chasing Witham, except that he was wanted on unspecified felony warrants. What those warrants were issued for would make a difference in determining whether the chase was justified.

Police should also say whether their sheriff’s office pursuit policy was followed. We know that they made two attempts to stop Witham with spike mats. We don’t know why they continued to pursue instead of trying to intercept him another way.

In the end, just as when an officer fires a gun, decisions about whether to chase are made in the heat of the moment, by men and women balancing many factors to decide whether chasing or not chasing is the best way to protect the public.

There is no absolute answer. A policy that makes sense for Congress Street in Portland wouldn’t work on the Airline in Washington County.

We rely on officers to make the right decisions, and when there is an incident like this one, we should be told how that decision was reached.


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