POLICE's RAPID RESPONSE CRITICAL TO PAIR'S ARREST

May 10, 2002 12:00 am

Union County law enforcement provided another example Monday of how our local officers are able to work together quickly to accomplish an important mission.

KEY TO THE ARREST of suspected bank robbers Tracy Humphreys, 29, and Paul Kolar, 23, was the quick response of Elgin Police Chief Dayton Sibley. The officer was ready to roll within seconds of learning at 3:30 p.m. that the Elgin US Bank branch had been robbed.

Sibley was only about 30 seconds behind Humphreys and Kolar when the pair headed out of Elgin toward Imbler on Highway 82. Although the suspects reportedly reached speeds of 100 mph or more in what was believed to be a stolen car, Sibley wisely pulled back when the pair entered Imbler, fearing what might happen if a child or some other pedestrian stepped in front of the fleeing car.

Meanwhile, the Elgin chief was communicating with Union County Sheriff's Department and Oregon State Police officers, who knew the route the suspects were traveling toward La Grande. They were preparing to set up a spike strip to halt Humphreys and Kolar when the suspects' vehicle left the highway north of Island City and went over a low embankment.

SIBLEY JUMPED OUT of his car, pulled his gun and ordered the suspects to get on the ground. Within a short time, Union County Sheriff Steve Oliver and Oregon State Police Lt. Reg Madsen arrived, along with other officers. The group made short work of arresting Humphreys and Kolar, who were wanted for escaping from a county jail in northern Idaho Sunday night.

Law enforcement officers are sometimes branded as low-key, coffee-sipping, doughnut- munching types — hardly ready to do the job they are paid to do. That image of casual Barney Fifes proved to be false Monday afternoon. It's good to know our local officers are trained and ready to instantly respond to threatening or dangerous situations. Our community is the better for it.

MEETING BASIC NEEDS

Mail carriers are doing the community a great service when they pick up bags of nonperishable food items Saturday.

RESIDENTS ARE ASKED to fill a plastic bag with canned or packaged food and place it near their mail box. The La Grande Post Office also will have large containers in its lobby Saturday for people who have post office boxes there or those who forget to leave their bag of food at their mail box.

Last year the local letter carriers collected 16,000 pounds of food. This year's goal is 20,000 pounds that will be sent to the Union County Food Bank to provide food for families that otherwise might go hungry.

The goal is achievable. Filling a bag with nonperishable food is a simple way for people to say they care about their neighbors.