Police pursuit

On any given day, you can see a police pursuit on the six O'clock news. There's always a news chopper in the air capturing some type of police chase.

There's two types of police pursuit. A vehicle pursuit and foot pursuit. Let's talk about the vehicle first...

It's exciting, it's dramatic, and it can make for damn good television.

It can also be deadly.

For the cops, the suspect, and the public.

A vehicle pursuit take place when officers attempt to apprehend a suspect who is fleeing while in operation of a motor vehicle and attempting to evade capture.

Many things can go wrong in a pursuit. Remember, it's not just the suspect vehicle that is driving down the roadway at high speeds- it's the officer(s) who are in pursuit.

Factor in the citizens driving on the streets, the pedestrians in the area, the unknown road conditions (pothole, obstruction around the corner), and it becomes a maze of unknown variables which could all potentially lead to complete disaster!

As an officer, you can only attempt to control your vehicle (I say attempt because it is a machine and you really can't be in 100% control of it- brakes could fail, tire could blow etc)

You have no way of controlling the suspect and his vehicle, and you certainly have no control over other drivers on the road who may or may not be paying attention. The same with pedestrians.

If anything does go wrong, and someone is hurt or killed, get ready for a firestorm.

Politics demand someone take blame. And nowadays, it seems more often than not, Police get the finger.

One of the things that officers must consider BEFORE initiating a vehicle pursuit is whether it is worth it.

There is a real danger in a vehicle pursuit and the reason for pursuing must be considered.

The officer must determine if the apprehension of the suspect is so crucial that it outweighs the risk that the public will be exposed to in the vehicle pursuit.

If the suspect is wanted for a violent offence you could definitely make the case. If he blew a stop sign, or some other traffic infraction, probably not.

Officers are expected to advise dispatch when initiating a pursuit. Keep up your location, direction travelled, speed, vehicle you are following, and description of the suspect (if you have one).

If in the midst of a police pursuit the officer feels that the suspect is driving too erratically or dangerously, officers, dispatch, or command all have the authority to call it off.

Don't be afraid to pipe up and call it off if you believe it's become too dangerous; you may have just saved a civilian's life.

Officers can actually make the pursuit even more dangerous by actually "riding the suspect." If you're bumper to bumper or trying to get to that point, it can cause the suspect to hit the gas and drive even more erratic.

So what's the solution?

One tactic is to try and keep a bit of a distance behind the suspect so that he/she may consider stopping the vehicle and running on foot.

If you are able to stay within sight of the vehicle but not lose it, the suspect may believe their best odds of evading capture is to ditch the car and run. At that point, it become a foot pursuit...

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