Police Pursuits

Imagine being a police officer doing your daily routine job. You are in a patrol car on the highway, watching the cars and trucks drive by. You are also looking for speeders to warn them to be more careful and maybe you’ll ticket them. It has been a very boring day for you, since you have only been called on your radio once, and it was for an accident (fender bender). Almost at the end of your shift, a blue car drives by going ninety miles an hour, but you know the speed limit is only fifty-five miles an hour. You pull the patrol car out of the gravel area that you had been sitting in and you start to follow the car. You put your lights on and catch up to them. After a few minutes you pull the person over. You get out of the car and start walking over towards the blue car. You are right about to talk to the driver and he drives off, leaving nothing but dust in your face. Now, the adrenaline is pumping in your body, but what should you do? You could call for backup or follow the blue car. Anything could happen. How far should you actually go? This is the question that will be answered in this paper. I will explain what police pursuit is and some different things officers do during a pursuit. I will also give some statistics about the fatalities that have happened in a police pursuit. I will also illustrate my opinion about how far police pursuits should go.
A true definition of a police pursuit “occurs when a police officer attempts to stop a vehicle and the driver of the car refuses to obey the officer” (Solgen, 1). At this point, the policeman pursues for the purpose of stopping the vehicle or being able to identify the car. The police officer should most likely be in a patrol car, so that the driver is aware that it is an officer. In a pursuit, the speed may vary. ‘High speeds are potentially more dangerous, but even low or moderate speeds can create substantial risks in congested areas”(Nugent, 1).
There has been a lot of statistics that have been recorded on the topic of police pursuits. In the 1998 Pennsylvania Police Pursuit Report, there were a total of 1,900 pursuits. The pursuits have raised from 1, 880 chases in 1997 to twenty more in 1998. Most of the pursuits did not end up in any type of collision. There was also a very small injury rate that was shown in the pursuit studies. Although there was not that many injuries in 1998 there was till nine fatal collisions. Ten people were killed due to police pursuits in 1998. “Of the ten fatalities, eight of the people were drivers fleeing from police officers”(1998 Analysis, 1). And the other two deaths were people who were not involved in the pursuit. The good thing for police officers is that none died during a pursuit in 1998. Some people say that there should have been no fatalities, including the people fleeing from the police officers. The majority of pursuits in the last four years that have had fatalities occur are provoked by the fleeing driver and also injure passengers in that car and innocent bystanders.
There are a lot of the same problems that occur repeatedly when dealing with police pursuits. Most of the time (around ninety percent of the time) police pursuits are generally triggered by a traffic violation. These violations could be running a red light, driving without stopping at a stop sign, or a speeding violation. Most likely, the driver in the pursuit is a young male, generally, under the age of twenty-four. They usually have very poor driving records. In more than half of the cases of attempted fleeing drivers, alcohol and driving under the influence plays a major role. Also, in most fifteen percent of all pursuit cases, the drivers did not have a valid driver’s licensee. Another interesting reported fact is that “approximately half the offenders had at least one prior licensee suspension on their records”(Nugent 6). Only three percent of pursuits have involved stolen cars. Finally, most of the pursuits that have happened