If I have heard this
once I have heard it ten thousand times. While the statement is certainly true, it is far
from the whole story. The decision to pursue, or not to pursue, is a complex one and
fraught with many pitfalls. When police agencies say that they are damned if they
do-and damned if they dont- that is certainly true as well. Research has shown
several important facts:
- 40% of pursuits end in crashes. 20% of pursuits end in personal injury. 1% ends
in death. Conclusion: Police pursuit is a high-risk activity with life or death
- Less that 17% of suspects flee for an underlying felony. Most suspects flee for
no drivers license, no insurance, no registration, DUI, so their parents wont find
out, or like offenses. Conclusion: Your typical fleeing suspect is most probably, young,
stupid or drunk-not a hardened criminal.
- When police departments tighten pursuit policies there is no increase in the
number of suspects who flee. Conclusion: It is the same young, stupid, or drunk suspects
who flee-no matter what the policy is, rampant crime is not the result of tight policy.
- When police discontinue or decline to pursue the fleeing suspects generally
respond in a short distance by trying to blend in with traffic or by ditching the car and
fleeing on foot. Conclusion: When police dont chase the suspects dont run for
long and when a pursuit becomes dangerous the decision to disengage defuses the situation.
Most of the above facts fly in the face of conventional wisdom and demonstrate
that police pursuits and pursuit policy require law enforcement agencies and citizens
alike to think outside the box. Your life depends on it.