COCOA, Fla. – The Cocoa police chief has changed department policy to prevent the cruisers from getting stolen.
“I don’t want to go into detail about the policy, but I can tell you it’s a no brainer, you don’t leave your car running and unlocked with a key in it,” Chief Evander Collier said.
Two Cocoa police cars were stolen in May, in one of the events, officers went on a two-county chase on Interstate 95.
The incident happened just days after Collier was sworn in as the city’s new police chief.
Xavier Cummings, 33, was arrested on May 6 along Interstate 95 near Daytona Beach following two chases spanning parts of Brevard and Volusia Counties.
According to an arrest report from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were alerted to a chase involving a stolen Cocoa Police Department vehicle. The cruiser was entering Volusia County, heading north on I-95 in Oak Hill.
Deputies said they managed to flatten some of the tires on the cruiser. A Cocoa officer involved in the chase managed to push the stolen cruiser off the road into a tree line and an Edgewater officer pinned the stolen vehicle in so that it could not leave, records show.
On law enforcement body camera video, deputies and officers can be seen draw their weapons and at least one police dog is seen in the video with its handler. In the video, Cummings is ordered out of the vehicle. According to the report, the man armed himself with pepper spray and exited the vehicle.
Deputies and officers can be heard in the video calling for the dog to be released. Deputies said Cummings managed to make it into another Cocoa police vehicle, which was left unlocked and had the keys in the ignition. Records show another Cocoa officer tried to deploy his Taser, but only one probe hit Cummings and it was not effective in preventing him from driving off in the second cruiser.
After the second stolen cruiser drives off, deputies and officers can be heard expressing their disbelief at the situation.
“Are you (expletive) kidding me,” one deputy is heard saying.
Collier joined members of his force on Wednesday as they walked through the Royal Garden Homes neighborhood to meet with residents to hear their concerns about crime.
“They were glad to see us out in the neighborhood, that was one thing, the presence. They were enjoying the fact that we were concerned about their concerns,” Collier said.
Collier said residents told him they want to see a stronger police presence in city parks.
News 6 also asked Collier about the death of a K-9 officer who was left in a Cocoa police car in June.
Collier would not comment on that investigation.