Since police pursuit driving has become an important public policy concern and a topic of research during the past few years, the current study was conducted to evaluate attitudes of police officers in four agencies toward pursuit driving.
Police officers selected for the study were part of a major project on pursuit driving. The study sample included 1,055 sworn police officers from police agencies in Florida, Nebraska, Arizona, and South Carolina that differed in terms of size and location. Each subject received a questionnaire containing chase scenarios. Critical pursuit concepts were operationalized in chase scenarios by creating categories that corresponded to existing empirical information on factors affecting police officer decisions to engage in pursuit driving. Factorial analysis revealed the most influential factor in police officer attitudes toward pursuit driving was the offense for which the suspect was wanted. This factor was more than twice as important as environmental factors such as chase area, traffic conditions, and weather. Violent felonies were viewed as the most important offense category justifying even a risky pursuit. In some cases, police officer attitudes conflict with their own department policies. 10 references and 4 tables