Tribal police help apprehend suspected bank robber

By Danielle Frost

A Grand Ronde Tribal Police Department car was damaged in a high-speed pursuit through Polk County on Friday, Sept. 29, but no Tribal police officers were injured.

The pursuit began in Salem, where officers there pursued Richard Louis Whittington, 43, of Sheridan after he allegedly robbed a Key Bank. He then drove his BMW on Highway 22 at speeds up to 100 mph. Whittington then continued on Red Prairie Road and crossed Highway 18.

Polk County deputies joined the pursuit and Grand Ronde police were dispatched to assist as well, Lt. Tim Hernandez said.

Spike strips were set up to slow the suspect vehicle down, and then a Tribal police officer used his vehicle to force the fleeing car into a ditch along Red Prairie Road.

“Our officer took the opportunity, while the pursuit was at slow speeds, to stop the suspect,” Hernandez said. “He did what he needed to do to get him off the roads so he didn’t hurt anyone.”

The Tribal patrol car sustained minor cosmetic damage in the incident, Hernandez said. An estimated damage amount had not yet been determined.

Whittington was being held at the Polk County Jail on three charges including reckless driving and attempting to elude a police officer. His bail was set at $22,500. Salem police and the FBI also are investigating.