High Speed Pursuits

2008 Words9 Pages
High-Speed Pursuits I. Introduction: Background and Definition of the Issue High-speed police pursuits continue to be the subject of debate and have brought about the need to revise pursuit guidelines. High-speed pursuits create a risk of injury or death to not only the officer and fleeing suspect, but to innocent bystanders on the road as well. High-speed police pursuits have become a recent subject to legal and media attention due to the dangers they present. This is a public safety issue as well as a law enforcement issue. The question plaguing law enforcement is; at what point does the need to apprehend a suspect outweigh the risk of endangering the public? The most common end result of high-speed pursuits is an accident. Since not all states keep records on high-speed pursuits, there is no national statistic on how many deaths or injuries result from pursuits (Falk). It is estimated that 400 to 500 deaths result from police pursuits each year and one out of every one hundred pursuits results in fatality (Hill). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 314 deaths occurred in 1998 due to high-speed police pursuits (Hill). Pursuits have the potential to become dangerous quickly. Approximately 50 percent of all collisions occur within the first two minutes of a high-speed pursuit (Hill). Figure 1 Police Pursuit Fatalities 1994-1998 Figure from (Hill). This figure shows high-speed pursuits puts suspects and bystanders at the greatest risk of death. A sample conducted in Adelaid, Australia found that 75 percent of pursuits occur between the hours of 8 pm and 4 am (Brewer). The most common stimulus for these pursuits was a traffic violation (Brewer). The common misperception of high-speed pursuits is that the fleeing suspect is guilty of a serious crime, however majority of the people who run are petty criminals.
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