High Speed Chases
How do you feel about high speed chases? I know the media focuses on the policy of no high speed chases if the "majority of the public" will be put in danger but do you feel they are ever warranted? Are there policies in your department that you view as "unfair" when your life may be on the line? Have you ever experienced a situation where a high speed chase resulted in the death of an uninvolved citizen?
Chases are necessary to catch criminals. In jurisdictions with "no chase" policies the criminals run and know they won't get caught. We need to introduce severe penalties for running. The criminal is placing public safety at risk and should be hammered in courts. Add on a huge mandatory prison sentence that is worse than whatever they could be running from to give them incentive to stop.
Originally Posted by Xiphos
Given that the SCOTUS has held that unless an action taken by an officer during a pursuit "shocks the conscience" the officer is not liable for the behavior of a fleeing felon during a pursuit, it would seem that officer discretion still rules the game.
If the risk of letting someone go outweighs the risk of chasing them, then the chase is on.
We just moved from a "chase anyone who runs" policy to a "only chase people who you have PC to believe have just committed a VIOLENT felony" policy. It's stupid. What if the guy just killed his wife and entire family and it about to go to the office and smoke everyone there and has an arsenal of guns in the trunk? You're not gonna know why they're running until you catch 'em. Letting them go is a coward's idea of mitigating civil liability. If you want to be a coward and re-write your policies so that your officers have to act like cowards, go turn your badge in and go to encyclopedia salesman school.
can't agree more -
You never know why they're running if you don't catch them...
what if they just wiped out the entire family - or robbed someone - or whatever - and the call just hasn't come in yet =/
if we don't chase - then what good are we - like a gun with no bullets - might as well take away all marked units, give us unmarked, and take all reports over the phone...
I agree with the posts up to this point - laws must be tougher, and courts must be tougher - plus the public has to realize - we are the ones who are trying catch someone breaking the law... that is what you trust us to do - if you want us to do our job, then please shut up and let us do it...
and get out of my way when my lights and siren are going so I can... otherwise don't whine and complain when you tie my hands and I don't get there on time, or I have to stop a pursuit because I may run over a family of migrating North Alaskan white tailed Geckos...
as always - it should be left up to the officer who is in the pursuit, and his back up - because they are the ones who can decide if the situation has gotten too dangerous and they need to end the pursuit or not...
Part of why we just swtiched was some kind of Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling that states that departments no longer have qualified immunity for any civil liability incurred by a fleeing suspect (before, if the guy drove through an orphanage kiling all the kids, it was on him). Our brass read that as "if you chase them and they do something stupid, you WILL be held liable." What it shouldbe interpreted as is, "if you chase someone and the reason isn't good enough to warrant an all-out chase and then something bad happens as a result of a poorly-conceived pursuit, then you CAN be held liable." So they should've amended the policy to state that traffic conditions, time of day, location, violation, etc should all be taken into consideration when it comes to making a decision on whether or not to continue a pursuit. But no...they would rather us be a mobile report-taking force of secretaries instead of a police department responsible for finding bad guys and locking them up before they can prey on the innocent. Sorry for the rant...still a little worked up. Being forced through policy and mismanagement to act like a pussy and let the bad guys do whatever the F they want to do ISN'T what I signed up for.....
I agree with the above in reference to the Officer having discretion and the penalties in the courts needs to be severe and mandatory.
Ill also add that government should pass laws to force ALL car makers to include an ONSTAR type system on all vehicles sold in the USA. IF you start chasing a vehicle and can check the plate to determine that its on the correct car (not always possible but...) if so dispatch should have the ability to shut the vehicle down. ONSTAR and other high end car makers have this ability, why cant all car makers do it? Why cant it be mandatory?
As the others have said, I agree... If criminals have no fear of being caught, then they of course are going to flee in those jurisdictions that have these idiotic "no chase" policies. Statistically, if you end a pursuit the bad guy keeps fleeing anyway; so my question is why stop pursuing if they're going to flee anyway?
Just an fyi, I write policy at my department, ours currently leaves it the officer.
ohhhh ho ho (best Tim "the Tool man" Taylor voice) BigDawg - OnStar would be beautiful
but I can argue the point of "I don't want big brother in my car" all day with ya...
I would love it at work, and not be too crazy about it in my personal car =/
I think the problem is that the criminals aren't held liable for any and all damages that arise during their capture... If you're trying to rob a bank, and (God forbid) an innocent bystander gets killed - that should be the same concept as if you're running from the police and the cop gets T-boned, destroying his cruiser -
slap the suspect with criminal dmg to property, agg flight, agg battery, and everything else you can think of - because everything was a DIRECT CAUSE of donkey head running from the police...
How about a vehicle sized Taser-type of weapon - that would be incredible :)
I have a certain opinion that I will keep to myself but for the most part.....MANDATORY PENALTIES!!!!
No questions asked. You refuse to stop you will receive a sentence, end of discussion. If you run and injure someone MANDATORY SEVERE PENALTIES!!!!!! Period. NO DEALS!!! NO DROPPING OR REFUSING CHARGES!!! F'in lets make a deal prosecutors.
That being said I greatly dislike pursuits. I can put a police car up a suspects tailpipe as well as the next officer but mistakes made at high speeds are usually costly.
The mandatory penalties are a good move... The laws are on the books, but way to often they'll drop the eluding charge as part of a plea deal. Eliminate that, and make the punishment serious, mandatory, and required to be served consecutively with any other sentence.
I'm not completely in favor of leaving the decision in solely in the hands of the officer. The officer must be able to terminate a pursuit (by the way -- PITT or roadblocks are terminations of the pursuit!) at any point that he or she feels it's too dangerous, absolutely. But their supervisor also has to be able to call it off if they realize the cops in the chase are too wrapped up to assess things, or there's some other reason to call it off -- including the driving history of involved officers. (Hey, I know some cops I wouldn't want chasing a butterfly in the desert... good cops over all, but they just can't drive.)
While I support some policy guidance -- the days of "they run, we chase till the wheels fall off" are pretty much gone, folks -- there needs to be enough room to discourage people from running. Xiphos summed it up pretty well... When they know we won't chase, they won't stop.
Amen! A DUI here has very little wiggle room for plea bargains, some mandatory sentences, and it cannot be remanded. Shouldn't fleeing the police be at least as serious?
Originally Posted by lewisipso
I hate pursuits too. When I first started they were exciting. Now they just scare the crap out of me because of the possibility of injuries/death to uninvolved people or the officers involved.
We instituted the "Violent Felony Only" policy several years ago. Word is out about the policy and we saw no increase in people refusing to stop. In fact, for whatever reason, there have been a decline in pursuits in our jurisdiction.
jks - my supervisor is part of my back up - and yes, they have the option to terminate the pursuit - I agree with that most of the time
although there are some out there who the second you say "he's not stopping" they start blasting out "well, you're not chasing"...
but that's another story for another day - but I forgot about the other questions -
as far as policies that are "unfair" when my life is on the line... I have to say, my department is probably 99.9% officer safety first - after all, rule #1 is go home at the end of the day - they do NOT support cowardice... but tactics, intelligence, bravery, and training get you most everywhere - I haven't found an instance yet that made me feel that I was being treated unfairly when my life depended on that course of action...
I think that sometimes letting a fleeing suspect go is the right thing to do in the interest of public safety. That said, I think that overly restrictive pursuit policies are just as reckless as overly permissive policies.
Under my department's policy, vehicle pursuits are only authorized in cases where deadly force would be reasonable.
A former co worker of mine had a short lived chase, just a few miles, when I worked for the city numerous years ago. The pursuit went through town and was for nothing more than a traffic violation. The vehicle came to a sudden stop in the middle of a downtown street and became a domestic hostage situation. The victim later stated that had the police not chased him he would have held her at gun point until he got somewhere to commit a murder suicide. As it was the suspect was preoccupied with my coworker that he lost his attention on the victim. She was able to bail out of the vehicle. He fired one shot at her missed and then capped himself.
I have grave concern for deadly force only, or no pursuit at all policies. The problem with that is in the unknown. What if our former department had a no pursuit or deadly force only policy? My coworker only knew that the suspect wasn't stopping for a traffic violation. Had he terminated the pursuit that victim would surely be dead today. Until the officer is able to contact the driver the officer has no way to determine, outside of prior information, why the offender is running in the first place.
Should the option exist in determining when a pursuit should be left alone? Sure. However, outside of serious circumstances legitimate pursuits need to be conducted as safely as possible and terminated as quickly as possible. All this following for 14 states, 18 agencies and 12 tanks of gas later is a little to much for me. I am not referring to the slow speed refuse to stop with the flashers on until they get to a better lighted area either. Commonsense dictates.
Pursuits are a dangerous gamble. A gamble that makes me very uncomfortable. However to greatly restrict an agencies ability to protect and serve in such a fashion is a mistake. The justice system nationwide does not take pursuits seriously. It's a joke to everyone but the officer and the innocent person that is injured because of one. They take the subsequent lawsuits quite serious however and that is a travesty. Take the ability of discretion out of the hands of judges and prosecutors and make punishments mandatory. As a matter of fact I'm thinking out loud that if I have to use my unit to stop a pursuit or an innocent is injured and the suspect is the owner of the pursued vehicle their insurance pays for all damages. But that is just a thought.
Until the judicial system steps up and recognizes pursuits as the danger they are innocents will be hurt if we pursue and if we don't. I know I won't sleep well ever again if I terminate a pursuit similar to above and an innocent who was expecting me to help them is killed. My family will never be the same if the person killed is me. Pursuits are a extremely dangerous ever evolving mostly high speed incident and need to be better addressed by the judicial system. The patrol cops/agencies can only do so much mitigating until they have no teeth left to bite with at all.
My force is currently trying to recover the costs of damage to the patrol car i was in when I rammed a man wanted for rape in order to stop him from fleeing in his car.
Originally Posted by Twan007
I'll let you know how it goes!
+1 High speed pursuits generally end badly for usually everyone, but the shit head you are chasing. Our policy is we WILL pursue, but our Watch Command has the authority to shut it down at anytime he/she feels it is getting out of control. With a larger department we could have many many units involved which means when it ends, 99.9% we catch the shit head.
Originally Posted by lewisipso
thank you lew - I've never been one who's great when it comes to expressing exactly what I'm thinking - but that's pretty much perfect
I have real mixed feelings on high speed chases even though they're necessary I think we have to evaluate each incident. Having been involved in numerous chases over the years two really stick in my mind.
The first was a chase that ended up with the suspect and two LEOS DOA. Suspect hit them head on at 100 mph+ and both were officers I spent some time with. It turned out the suspect was a wanted fugitive but the chase actually started over a theft.
The second was a possible robbery suspect who rammed one of our crusiers, tried to run down officers and finally hit a civilian couple in the rear end causing their car to catch fire. The result was the driver DOA and the passenger was knocked into the back of the car. I got the driver out and with the help of a helicopter observer, yes the pilot dropped him right at the scene, we were able to get the passenger out before the car was fully engulfed.
I asked myself many times if it was worth it and have just never found an answer.