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Imagine being a police officer doing your daily routine job. You are in a patrol car on the highway, watching the cars and trucks drive by. You are also looking for speeders to warn them to be more careful and maybe youll ticket them. It has been a very boring day for you, since you have only been called on your radio once, and it was for an accident (fender bender). Almost at the end of your shift, a blue car drives by going ninety miles an hour, but you know the speed limit is only fifty-five miles an hour. You pull the patrol car out of the gravel area that you had been sitting in and you start to follow the car.
You put your lights on and catch up to them. After a few minutes you pull the person over. You get out of the car and start walking over towards the blue car. You are right about to talk to the driver and he drives off, leaving nothing but dust in your face. Now, the adrenaline is pumping in your body, but what should you do?
You could call for backup or follow the blue car. Anything could happen. How far should you actually go? This is the question that will be answered in this paper. I will explain what police pursuit is and some different things officers do during a pursuit. I will also give some statistics about the fatalities that have happened in a police pursuit.
I will also illustrate my opinion about how far police pursuits should go. A true definition of a police pursuit occurs when a police officer attempts to stop a vehicle and the driver of the car refuses to obey the officer (Solgen, 1). At this point, the policeman pursues for the purpose of stopping the vehicle or being able to identify the car. The police officer should most likely be in a patrol car, so that the driver is aware that it is an officer. In a pursuit, the speed may vary. High speeds are potentially more dangerous, but even low or moderate speeds can create substantial risks in congested areas (Nugent, 1).
There has been a lot of statistics that have been recorded on the topic of police pursuits. In the 1998 Pennsylvania Police Pursuit Report, there were a total of 1, 900 pursuits. The pursuits have raised from 1, 880 chases in 1997 to twenty more in 1998. Most of the pursuits did not end up in any type of collision. There was also a very small injury rate that was shown in the pursuit studies.
Although there was not that many injuries in 1998 there was till nine fatal collisions. Ten people were killed due to police pursuits in 1998. Of the ten fatalities, eight of the people were drivers fleeing from police officers (1998 Analysis, 1). And the other two deaths were people who were not involved in the pursuit. The good thing for police officers is that none died during a pursuit in 1998. Some people say that there should have been no fatalities, including the people fleeing from the police officers.
The majority of pursuits in the last four years that have had fatalities occur are provoked by the fleeing driver and also injure passengers in that car and innocent bystanders. There are a lot of the same problems that occur repeatedly when dealing with police pursuits. Most of the time (around ninety percent of the time) police pursuits are generally triggered by a traffic violation. These violations could be running a red light, driving without stopping at a stop sign, or a speeding violation. Most likely, the driver in the pursuit is a young male, generally, under the age of twenty-four. They usually have very poor driving records.
In more than half of the cases of attempted fleeing drivers, alcohol and driving under the influence plays a major role. Also, in most fifteen percent of all pursuit cases, the drivers did not have a valid drivers licensee. Another interesting reported fact is that approximately half the offenders had at least one prior licensee suspension on their records (Nugent 6). Only three percent of pursuits have involved stolen cars. Finally, most of the pursuits that have happened occur at night or on Saturdays and Sundays. There are many factors that need to be considered by the officer to decide whether he or she should initiate, continue, or discontinue the police pursuit.
These factors should be able to insure public safety to the community (Solgen 2). They also will limit the police officers on how far they can go with the pursuit. One of the main factors that officers and law enforcement should be aware of is the nature of the offense. This is used to see how bad the original offense actually is. Police officers have to have reason to believe a criminal offense has been or is about to be committed. For example, the police would act differently to a pursuit that was started because of a speeding violation than a pursuit that was brought about because of a shooting and the suspect was running from the police officers.
Another factor that is important is the age and race of the driver. This is somewhat like profiling. One other factor to be considered by the police officer is the manner in which the driver is operating his or her vehicle. If the driver is driving recklessly at great speeds or if the officer thinks that the driver is a hazard to society than the officer will most likely pursue a chase. Another factor is if there are people around or if there is a lot of traffic around the area. The police officer may not begin a pursuit if there are pedestrians around because they need to insure public safety.
Some other factors include the length, time, or distance traveled in the pursuit, the presence of non-suspects in the pursued vehicle, and the nature and condition of the area traveled (Solgen 3). There are many special restrictions that police officers have to abide before being able to begin a pursuit. First, the police officer has to agree that they will not discharge a firearm for the only purpose of trying to stop a vehicle. Another restriction is that officers are not allowed to deliberately run into a pursued vehicle with a police car. Also, unmarked police vehicles are not to be used in a police chase. They are only allowed to be used where there is not a patrol car immediately able to be there.
With this restriction apprehension is required in the pursuit. The last special restriction that needs to be followed is that no police officer shall engage in a police pursuit unless they are trained in a course that is approved by the Ontario Police College (Solgen 4). This restriction started on January 1 st in 1991. It started because the Solicitor General for Ontario put together a committee to study the different points to police pursuit driving.
The committee examined policy, law, statistics, training, and radio communications (Nugent 7). Together, they decided that vehicular police pursuits are too hazardous to do as frequently as they did. So, they put together a course to train police officers and give them some restrictions to what extent they should actually go to. Bibliography: none
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