Guide to Understanding Restrictive Policies for High-Speed Police Pursuits

A police pursuit is perhaps one of the most dangerous duties an officer can undergo. It puts everyone involved at risk.

Due to the volatile nature of a pursuit, there are regulations designed to help officers decide whether the chase is appropriate or… to be avoided.


In this article, we’ll introduce brief guidelines on police pursuit policy, how officers should operate in the situation, and what impacts the pursuit itself.

Let’s jump right in!

What’s a Pursuit?

In simple terms, a police pursuit can be summarized as a ‘police vehicle chasing a vehicle with a perpetrator inside.’

This means that the perpetrator has to be aware that it’s the police that’s chasing him. The police officer has to indicate that he’s on duty. He has to be in a clearly marked police car. The officer also has to be on duty.

Additionally, there’s an inherent understanding of the danger that comes with the pursuit. Usually, it involves fast maneuvering, high speeds, and might break several laws (speeding is the most obvious one).

These actions cause danger to both the perpetrator and officer, as well as civilians and bystanders, and can result in an auto accident.

Pursuits should be done by officers who have received training to minimize liability and casualties.

There are three police pursuit policy models. Discretionary allows the pursuing officer to make all the major decisions relating to the pursuit.

The restrictive method puts restrictions on the pursuing officer’s decisions. It’s also the most widespread model. And the last discouraging model discourages pursuits unless in the most extreme cases.

When is it Viable?

Basically, if a suspect or felon is fleeing from the police by car, a chase is a viable option. But first, the officer has to evaluate his options.

In a situation where the police witness a car speeding in the streets, they should call in and check the license plate number. Perhaps there are additional felonies associated with the car, aside from the one who’s speeding.

Once the confirmation is received, the police car can turn on the sirens and pull the driver over. If the suspect doesn’t stop, the pursuit can commence.

Keep in mind that pursuit is only allowed in the most severe cases. This is due to the danger that a high-speed chase can cause.

If the speeding car has no prior warrants and is not involved in any dangerous criminal activity, the pursuit cannot be justified.

However, should the car be involved in criminal activity or carry a felon, the police can then engage in the chase.

You also need to consider the traffic. If the suspect is speeding along the empty roads at night, the police might pursue him because there’s a little chance of danger to bystanders.

If the roads are full of calls during the rush hour, it might not be worth the risk.

Other Things to Consider…

The danger of the criminal or a suspect is also essential. Should the person be involved in substantial criminal activity, they must be stopped and apprehended.

But if the driver of a speeding car has a warrant for something that doesn’t cause immediate danger to the society, perhaps a pursuit should be avoided.

A police officer always has to weigh the pros and cons of chasing a suspect in each particular situation.

The nature of the pursuit invariably puts bystanders in danger. Whether it’s a crowded street or solitary road, the impact of the pursuit can cause injuries and other hazards.

Police chases should be considered as a last resort when there’s no other way to apprehend the felon.

Failure to heed the severity of the action can be ruinous for people not directly related to the pursuit, and you can read more about it in this article.

Elements of Pursuit

At the start of a pursuit, policy dictates that a police officer has to contact the dispatcher and tell them why the pursuit is justified.

The pursued car needs to be identified by color, model, license plate, and any other distinct features. They’ll also need to describe the people inside the vehicle.

The officer also has to report the direction the car’s going, the current location of the vehicle, and its speed. Throughout the chase, the police have to keep track of the progress by reporting.

The other officers should be informed. They can serve as a backup, or perhaps the pursuing officer needs some air support. If the chase is bound to cross state or jurisdiction lines, the responsible units should also be informed.

The pursed vehicle can be stopped using three tactics. One of them is boxing in when officers surround the car by the police cars, and the pursued felon is forced to stop along with the police.

Ramming is another technique, and it involves slamming into the felon’s vehicle with the police car. It’s advisable to aim towards the back of the car, near the rear wheels.

This could make the car spin out of control, stopping the felon from getting away. However, it’s considered very dangerous and should be done in an open space without endangering innocents.

The last tactic in the police pursuit policy is roadblocks. The road is blocked, and this forces the pursued vehicle to a stop. But this technique is least used as it requires a lot of setups.

Firearms are also restricted. They should be used only in most extreme cases as a way to apprehend the felon. According to a court case from 2015, it’s acceptable to fire up to 5 rounds.

Did You Learn Something New About Police Pursuit Policy?

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