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Slow Pursuits Lead to Fast and Safe Apprehensions

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 73 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2006 Pages: 57-59
John Specht
Date Published
March 2006
3 pages
This article describes the restrictive pursuit policy of the Hillsboro Police Department (Oregon) and how it has increased public safety without compromising the department's ability to apprehend dangerous offenders who flee from police in vehicles.
Police high-speed pursuits can lead to traffic crashes, property damage, injuries, and deaths. Since April 1992, the Hillsboro Police Department (HPD) has sought to develop a pursuit policy that will provide greater public safety. The pursuit policy was most recently revised in 2003. It was updated to authorize police pursuits only in cases in which the "actions of the suspect are a direct threat to life" or when "the officer reasonably believes that delayed apprehension of the suspect poses a clear and immediate danger to the public and/or officers." The decisionmaking responsibility is left to the officer on the scene rather than a supervisor. Under this policy, however, abandoning a pursuit in the interest of public safety on the road does not mean the officer stops apprehension efforts; the officer relies on other resources to apprehend the offender. In 2005, the HPD had only two pursuits. One involved a traffic offense, and the other a stolen car. In both cases, when the driver began a high-speed attempt to escape the officer, the officer turned off the car siren and flashing lights while calling for saturation of the area with other officers. In both cases, the suspects quickly stopped their dangerous driving and abandoned their vehicles. Officers were able to take the suspects into custody shortly after the initial contact. The department has found that discontinuing pursuits and flooding the immediate area with police has been effective. Veteran officers have observed that they are apprehending more offenders under this policy than they did under a hot-pursuit policy.