Radio transmissions released of cop caught speeding more than 700 times

James Bell (Source: Sorrento Police)
James Bell (Source: Sorrento Police)

SORRENTO, LA (WAFB) - The radio transmissions of a Sorrento police officer who has been reprimanded for speeding have been released.

The alleged actions of Police Officer James Bell have started quite a stir in the small town of Sorrento, LA.

In the nine months he's been on the force his boss, Police Chief Earl Theriot, said the officer has written hundreds of speeding tickets.

But a GPS record of his police cruiser shows Officer Bell may be guilty of exceeding speeds of 75 miles per hour 737 times, often times outside of town limits.

"He should be cited just as a regular civilian should," said Sorrento resident Joshua Irvine.

9News has learned the only time Bell was ticketed while on the Sorrento Police force was by Louisiana State Police after an accident in September on Airline Highway.

According to a GPS unit in his vehicle, Bell was going 100 miles per hour when the accident happened.

Chief Theriot said he was told Bell was in the middle of a pursuit, but during the half hour of radio transmissions prior to the crash there was no mention of a pursuit.

In fact, the only time Bell radioed in during those transmission maintained by the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office was to report he had been in the crash.

"I'm out on Frank Drive and highway 61 with an accident," Bell said over the radio. "Driver didn't know how to get over and got in front of me and I hit her."

Some law enforcement agencies require officers to radio in at the beginning of a chase, Sorrento Assistant Police Chief Ricky Smith said officers on the Sorrento Police force are not required to radio in unless they are calling in a license plate or if it appears the alleged violator is attempting to flee.

As for the GPS report that shows that Officer Bell drove down Airline Highway at speeds more than 100 miles per hour on more than one occasion, Theriot said it's unacceptable and said he addressed the matter with all of his officers.

"You're out there for public safety," Theriot said. "If you feel it's going to bring a worse hazard, let them go. Somebody else will get him."

Officer Bell is still on the job in Sorrento.

The woman who was injured in the crash is suing the town and Chief Theriot.

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