Colorado Man Arrested After High-Speed Chase in Dodge Challenger Hellcat

May 10, 2019 Updated: May 10, 2019

Police arrested a Colorado man who allegedly led troopers on a high-speed chase in a Dodge Challenger Hellcat muscle car before crashing.

Rafael Cotlear was taken into custody on Tuesday, May 7, after allegedly driving the high-powered sports car on I-70 at speeds in excess of 130 mph, according to the Colorado State Patrol.

Colorado State Patrol Public Information Officer Jacob Best said in a statement that troopers had received reports of a reckless driver on the highway “traveling at a high rate of speed, making unsafe lane changes, and driving in a reckless manner.”

Troopers were initially unable to find the alleged speedster.

Then a trooper located the Dodge Challenger and tried to stop the vehicle, but the suspect began passing vehicles on the right shoulder, accelerating to speeds over 130 mph, Best said.

The pursuit was called off because heavy traffic and high speeds involved posed safety concerns.

But shortly afterward, an off-duty officer called in an accident involving a Dodge Challenger Hellcat muscle car that had crashed on a sharp corner. Best noted in the news release that the suspect had rolled the vehicle and ended up in opposing lanes.

The accident prompted road closures lasting about an hour.

Cotlear was found to have minor injuries and was taken to a local hospital.

mugshot of suspect
Rafael Cotlear was arrested following a high-speed chase on the I-70 in Colorado on May 7, 2019. (Colorado State Police)

He was later taken into custody and booked on charges that include driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, reckless driving, and reckless endangerment.

Cotlear remained in custody on $1,000 bond.

Crime in the United States

Violent crime in the United States has fallen sharply over the past 25 years, according to both the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).

The rate of violent crimes fell by 49 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the FBI’s UCR, which only reflects crimes reported to the police.

The violent crime rate dropped by 74 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to BJS’s CVS, which takes into account both crimes that have been reported to the police and those that have not.

“From 1993 to 2017, the rate of violent victimization declined 74 percent, from 79.8 to 20.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older,” the U.S. Department of Justice stated (pdf).

Both studies are based on data up to and including 2017, the most recent year for which complete figures are available.

The FBI recently released preliminary data for 2018. According to the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, from January to June 2018, violent crime rates in the United States dropped by 4.3 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2017.

crime rates
Rates of violent crime in the United States in 1993 compared with 2017, according to data from the FBI (L) and BJS (R). (The Epoch Times)

While the overall rate of violent crime has seen a steady downward drop since its peak in the 1990s, there have been several upticks that bucked the trend.

Between 2014 and 2016, the murder rate increased by more than 20 percent, to 5.4 per 100,000 residents, from 4.4, according to an analysis of FBI data. The last two-year period that the rate soared so quickly was between 1966 and 1968.

Property Crime

The property crime rate fell by 50 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the FBI, and by 69 percent according to BJS.

According to the FBI’s preliminary figures for the first half of 2018, property crime rates in the United States dropped by 7.2 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2017.

As with violent crime, the FBI survey only takes into account crime reported to the police, while the BJS figures include reported and nonreported crime.

Public Perception About Crime

Despite falling long-term trends in both violent crime and property crime, opinion surveys repeatedly show Americans believe that crime is up.

The vast majority of Gallup polls taken since 1993 show (pdf) that over 60 percent of Americans believe there is more crime in the United States on a national scale compared to the previous year.

Pew Research surveys show similar findings. A survey in late 2016 revealed that 57 percent of registered voters said crime in the nation as a whole increased since 2008, despite both FBI and BJS data showing double-digit drops in violent and property crimes.

Perceptions differed on a national versus local level.

Surveys of perceptions of crime levels on a local scale showed that fewer than 50 percent of respondents in every single Gallup survey (pdf) done since 1996 believed that crime in their area had risen compared to the previous year.

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