Because little is known about police pursuits and pursuit driving and many communities develop important police policies in an information vacuum, a national survey of police agencies was conducted to examine relevant policies and practices and actual incidents of recent pursuits in their jurisdictions.
The survey was conducted between October 1994 and May 1995 to collect pursuit and use of force information from police agencies throughout the United States. The survey instrument asked about mandated vehicle pursuit policies; pursuit data collection and incident analysis; incidents resulting in accidents, injuries, assaults on officers, or reports of officer misconduct; pursuit training; and discipline and litigation resulting from pursuits. Similar information on police use of other types of force was also requested. The survey sample included 800 municipal and county police agencies, 40 percent large agencies and 60 percent smaller agencies. Responses were received from 737 of the 800 police agencies. Nearly all police agencies reported having written policies governing pursuit situations. Police agencies, however, had differing expectations; municipal police agencies were significantly more likely than county police agencies to restrict pursuits to felony incidents, and municipal police agencies restricted pursuits to marked vehicles and imposed supervisory responsibility more often than county police agencies. Although only 31 percent of police agencies systematically maintained pursuit statistics, 71 percent could provide estimates of the number of pursuits their officers had engaged in during 1993. Many police agencies acknowledged taking only limited steps to prepare their officers for pursuits. Slightly more than 12 percent of police agencies reported having to discipline officers at least once during 1993 for pursuit- related actions. Nearly 16 percent of police agencies indicated they had been involved in litigation resulting from pursuits, and 25 percent said pursuits resulted in officer use of force, in addition to the pursuit itself, to apprehend a suspect. 12 references and 5 tables
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