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Police confront suspects at Sheetz

February 27, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

With guns drawn in the parking lot of a Dual Highway convenience store Wednesday afternoon, Hagerstown City Police officers confronted two occupants of a vehicle they believed had been reported stolen two days earlier in West Virginia.

After the two were removed from the 1995 Pontiac, police released the woman from custody.

The man, Dwayne Paige, 29, of 1016 B Security Road, Hagerstown, was charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and driving without a license, police said.

Paige was not in custody Wednesday night.

At 2:30 p.m., Officer Jeffrey Pepple went to the area of Washington Street and Cannon Avenue to contact the owner of the car, who said she had located the vehicle that had been reported stolen Monday to the Martinsburg Police Department.

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Pepple stopped the vehicle in the Sheetz parking lot at 301 E. Washington St. He and three other officers drew their weapons and ordered the driver and passenger out of the vehicle.

Police said the two said they obtained the vehicle from another person who was the suspect in the original complaint filed Monday in Martinsburg.

When police in Martinsburg were contacted, it was learned the vehicle had not been reported stolen but was listed as an unauthorized use, a lesser offense. The vehicle later was turned over to the victim, police in Hagerstown said.

Contacted Wednesday night by telephone about the incident, Hagerstown Police Chief Art Smith said the department policy about drawing weapons is clear.

"Our officers are trained that if they feel there is a possibility of danger to the officer, they can use their discretion on whether or not to draw their guns," Smith said.

He said there are four or five training sessions each year for officers on proper weapons use.

"Studies show that an officer often can gain control of a situation when his weapon is drawn," Smith said. "But bottom line, it's the officers' discretion."

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