The goal of this paper is to inform the public of the difficult decisions that law enforcement officers and officials have to make on a daily basis in regards to police pursuits. This also includes the potential safety risks to the public, officers and suspects that are involved or not involved in a police pursuit. This paper will also highlight the statistics of police pursuits as well as the efforts and processes that are involved in making police pursuit policies. Police pursuits are often sudden decisions that have the potential to affect many other people’s lives. Police pursuits are a hard subject to fully understand by law enforcement and the public. Some people look at the frightening statistics that one person dies everyday, one police officer dies every 11 weeks or 1% of all line of duty police deaths are from police pursuits (Schultz, Hudak, and Alpert, 2010). Others look at the fact that if law enforcement doesn’t chase suspects that everyone one will end up fleeing if they know that no one will chase them or that serial killers will escape and kill someone else. These are some of the issues that challenge law enforcement officials to create pursuit policies. The hope is that this information will change the public’s view of police pursuits and make the public think about all the facts and circumstance before forming an opinion on police pursuits. This will affirm the hypothesis that although police pursuits are a dangerous task that law enforcement must perform in certain situations, they must be terminated on occasion due to the public and officers safety. Termination of police pursuits should take location, speed and the offense of the suspect into account before they are terminated.
Records of police pursuits show many disparaging facts. The majority of all pursuits start with a traffic violation (Schultz, Hudak, and Alpert, 2010). A series of North American studies have concluded that once a law enforcement officer initiates a pursuit there is a forty percent chance or two in five pursuits will end in a collision (Best & Eves, 2005). One out of one hundred high-speed pursuits end in a death, innocent bystanders that are in the wrong place at the wrong time account for forty two percent of people killed or injured in a police pursuit (Schultz, Hudak, and Alpert, 2010). Officers are in charge of protecting the public’s safety, which requires serious social risks and personal risks. When an officer initiates a stop on a vehicle, if the vehicle flees, the officer will pursue. In doing this, the officer responds to the suspects actions (acting as though they have no rules) with an approach to catch him. While trying to catch the suspect, the officer has to be vastly aware of his abilities, the environment around them and the road conditions to accomplish the goal of capturing the suspect (Schultz, Hudak, and Alpert, 2010). The officer will have to add to his decision-making process, to continue pursuit or call it off, the risk that is being created by the suspects reckless driving. They also have to think of bystanders and actions they could impose on the situation that could influence the suspect’s actions. The officer must also think about the likelihood of capture in the decision to continue the chase or call it off. The officer must realize and understand that a suspect’s refusal to stop when lights and sirens are initiated can turn into a high-risk dangerous event where the show of authority may negatively affect the suspects driving (Schulz, Hudak, and Apert 2010). The need to win and get the arrest can be due to the adrenaline high experienced by the officer. The officer must realize that the suspect is likely having the same adrenaline rush. The suspect is fleeing to escape the consequence of the actions that got him into the situation, which was likely a minor offense (Schultz, Hudak, and Alpert, 2010). Officer’s face many challenges trying to get the suspect...
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