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High-Speed Pursuit: New Technologies Around the Corner

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 1996
6 pages
This federally supported report presents information on the risks associated with high-speed pursuits, findings from major studies on police pursuit, the need for departmental policies, and tactics and technologies that may provide alternatives to high-speed pursuit.

Police vehicle pursuit is the most common high-liability area of law enforcement. Public opinion over pursuit-related injuries and deaths and/or liability costs to agencies across the United States has prompted a rethinking of pursuit policies. However, few effective options have existed for law enforcement to safely stop fleeing vehicles. In response, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice through its National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center is examining alternative approaches to improve the ability of law enforcement officers to stop fleeing vehicles and enhance the safety of officers and the public. This report begins by discussing previous research in the field of high-speed pursuits, the risks, and benefits. From past research, inherent risks were identified. The merit of a pursuit must be based on interpreting the risks presented. Departmental policies are necessary regarding high-speed pursuit for several reasons: reduce the number of injuries and deaths, guide officers in knowing how to pursue, maintain the basic law enforcement mission, and minimize agency liability. Understanding that police vehicle pursuits are dangerous to both police and the public, six prototype technologies are described that offer potential alternatives to high-speed pursuits: (1) retractable spiked barrier strip; (2) Auto Arrestor System; (3) Road Patriot/Road Sentry; (4) checkpoint barrier strip; (5) Fleeing Vehicle Tagging System; and (6) precision immobilization technique. Ultimately, there needs to be a balance between the need to apprehend a law violator immediately and risks created by the pursuit.

Date Published: October 1, 1996