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Chase or Not To Chase?: That's the Question Facing Police Departments Around the Country

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 33 Issue: 10 Dated: October 2006 Pages: 36-39,42,45
Kay Falk
Date Published
October 2006
8 pages
After reviewing issues in police policies on high-speed pursuits, this article describes the pursuit policies of the Chicago and Dallas Police Departments as well as other law enforcement agencies, followed by a discussion of training issues.
The decision of a police officer about whether to initiate or terminate a high-speed pursuit of a fleeing suspect involves balancing the need to apprehend the suspect with the potential risks a particular high-speed chase would pose to the public and to the officer. In applying this test, the Chicago Police Department instructs its officers to consider the speeds involved, maneuvering required to maintain vehicle control, the volume of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and weather and road conditions. Further, if the suspect's identity has been clearly established for later apprehension, pursuits should not be initiated or should be terminated once that information has been obtained. Officers are prohibited from pursuing suspects for minor crimes (less serious than theft) or for nonhazardous traffic violations. Procedures also address authority and accountability, responsibilities, and procedures when a pursuit is initiated and terminated. The Dallas Police Department restricts pursuits to the following circumstances: probable cause to believe a felony was committed that involved the use or threat of force; the officer reasonably believes the suspect poses a danger to the public that outweighs the risks posed by the pursuit; and to assist another law enforcement agency that has initiated a pursuit under the aforementioned circumstances. The training required for high-speed pursuits should include classroom training, training behind the wheel of a patrol car under various simulated obstacles and road conditions, and training in decisionmaking regarding the initiation and termination of pursuits based on departmental policy.