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Police Pursuits: What We Know

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2000
219 pages
This study went beyond previous police-pursuit research in compiling extensive data from four diverse sites and a national survey; and it examined the issues not only from the police perspective, but also from the perspectives of the public and offenders; the study built on some key prior research, examined liability and risk-management issues, and developed recommendations for police agencies.
The core of this book is a report on site-specific research conducted in Miami-Dade County, FL; Omaha, NE; Aiken County, SC; and Mesa, AZ. By examining police pursuits and pursuit policies in these four diverse sites, which ranged from major metropolitan areas to more rural jurisdictions, this research aimed to provide a more accurate understanding of how police professionals viewed pursuits in the context of their mission to provide public protection. The site research also encompassed the views of citizens and offenders. Among the findings are that those who flee from the police in vehicles do so regardless of whether the police respond with a high-speed pursuit; this challenges the deterrence argument that offenders will not flee from the police if they know they will be pursued and caught. The study findings also indicate that most violators who flee from the police have not committed offenses for which a full custodial arrest would be customary. Serious offenders were a minority of those who fled from police. A major discrepancy was found between police perceptions in pursuit situations and those of the offenders who initiated the pursuit by fleeing. This book identifies the elements necessary for a pursuit management plan, notably a clear policy, specific training, control and supervision, and accountability. Aspects of a model pursuit policy are presented, with attention to risk management; and associated legislation is suggested. Extensive tables, 120 references, and appended checklist for components of a defensible pursuit policy

Date Published: January 1, 2000