Forget 'flatfoot': He runs down the bad guys

January 06, 1995|By Seattle Times

MILL CREEK, Wash. -- Fellow police officers call him "Greyhound," but Officer Robert Beidler is no dog when it comes to chasing -- and catching -- bad guys.

In three years with the Snohomish County sheriff's office, Officer Beidler has developed a reputation for being quick on his feet.

How quick?

Twenty times Officer Beidler has chased suspects on foot, and each time he has caught his quarry.

His most memorable chase involved a burglary suspect he found under a bridge along the Pilchuck River. Officer Beidler, 28, chased the man over a barbed-wire fence, down the riverbank, and in and out of the water three times before catching him nearly a mile from the bridge.

Officer Beidler enjoys a good chase. "It's kind of like being a kid," he said. "Somebody runs from you, and you chase them."

Some of his targets have expressed surprise that they were caught by a police officer. Like the river-running burglar, who told Officer Beidler that he thought police officers were fat and out of shape, always munching on junk food and cruising around in police cars.

A myth, said Officer Beidler, who stands 5 feet 11 and weighs 180 pounds. He stays in shape by exercising two hours daily Mondays through Fridays. Officer Beidler hasn't competed in track since high school, but said he used to run the 40-yard -- in 4.6 seconds.

He has compiled his record and reputation while patrolling unincorporated South Snohomish County, just north of Seattle, on the graveyard shift.

Sgt. Tim Shea, Officer Beidler's supervisor, said Officer Beidler has been particularly effective patrolling in the early mornings for car prowlers.

"He goes out looking for these guys," he said. "He creeps down side streets, and if he sees anyone, he goes right after them."

Officer Beidler recognizes the dangers that accompany police work but said foot pursuits don't make him any more susceptible to injury.

"Getting shot is something that can happen at any time," he said.

Although law enforcement has its down side, there are benefits. Officer Beidler's come courtesy of Sergeant Shea, who buys him a cup of coffee every time he drags in a suspect caught during a foot pursuit.

That's 20 cups and counting.

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