Movies and television series have made high-speed police chases part of the expectations when law enforcement is apprehending a suspect. In these carefully choreographed scenes, cars zip in and out of their lanes, creating very little havoc except to whoever the villains of the story are. The truth is much more serious.
Over a 19-year period (1996-2015), according to statistics from the Bureau of Justice, almost 1 person was killed every day due to a pursuit-related crash. That would make almost 7,000 fatalities in that period alone. If there would otherwise have been no deaths and less destruction, then the cost is too high.
What is a No Chase Policy?
Sometimes, the risk of a high-speed pursuit is much higher than either law enforcement or civilians want. They usually involve the following factors:
Minor offenses. When law enforcement engages in a high-speed chase, it is usually for a minor offense. It can be a shoplifting incident, a traffic misdemeanor, or even a drug offense that the person in the other car is trying to cover up. Either way, it’s not worth the paperwork, insurance claims, or fatalities.
Vehicles. High-speed pursuit on foot or via helicopter are rarely an active threat to bystanders or the fleeing suspect. Most no-chase policies only restrict law enforcement from conducting a pursuit with a vehicle.
As a result, a no-chase policy dictates that for minor offenses in which the suspect uses a vehicle to flee the scene, law enforcement should not respond by leaping into vehicles and giving chase. This is not easy, because police officers feel like they let someone get away. As a result, the insult seems personal, and it can cloud judgement.
Is the No Chase Policy Standardized?
Many highway patrols already have policies related to pursuing suspects, but it’s not federally standardized. Instead, it depends on the city or state policies given by law enforcement. If you are entering into the security industry, you should be aware of the local policies on high-speed pursuit.
What Is A Different Response?
Even with a no chase policy, suspects must be apprehended. To reduce the risk to civilians, law enforcement, and even the fleeing suspects, the security sector has to respond in a different way.
Trust surveillance cameras. Many times, a high-speed chase is conducted because there is a fear that the suspect will “get away.” However, with the number of surveillance cameras and other ways to track vehicles and their misdemeanors, it might be better to immediately identify the direction of the fleeing vehicle. From there, footage necessary for identifying and apprehending the suspect can be found.
Request air support. If it is imperative that the suspects don’t escape, it is more effective in any case to request possible air support. Helicopters can easily track vehicles with less chance of encountering civilian bystanders.
Communicate with other patrols or posts. If law enforcement at a possible interception point can be alerted, a suspect can be apprehended without the need for a chase. In fact, roadblocks and checkpoints might even be more effective in this case.
The policies differ for every city and state, but a sobering question to ask before responding to the chase is if the cost is worth the risk.