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Police Pursuits and the Use of Force: Recognizing and Managing "The Pucker Factor"; A Research Note

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 14 Issue: 2 Dated: (June 1997) Pages: 371-385
Date Published
15 pages

This study analyzes the force used by police after a pursuit as part of the effort to take the suspect into custody.


The data used are part of a larger research project that includes the Metro-Dade Police Department in Miami (Florida); the Omaha Police Department (Nebraska); the Mesa Police Department (Arizona); and the Aiken County Sheriff's Office (South Carolina). In addition, data were collected from jail inmates in three of these cities or the neighboring areas. At each site, police officers were sampled and asked to complete survey instruments that measured their attitudes and experiences concerning pursuit and the use of force. Suspects who ran from the police were interviewed in Omaha, Miami, and South Carolina. Public opinion surveys were conducted in Omaha and Aiken County. Findings show that most officers acted professionally after a pursuit, but some have become anxious at the end of a pursuit and have tended to "pull the suspect out of the vent window" to make an arrest. The nature and extent of force used to take a suspect into custody after a pursuit suggests an immediate need for corrective measures. The targets of reform must be organizational elements, including policies, training, supervision, and accountability systems. Departments' pursuit policies should require that, whenever possible, any officer other than the primary pursuit officer should make the physical arrest of the suspect. Further, officers must be trained to understand the dynamics of pursuit and its effect on their state of mind. This training must include information about how to manage anger and frustration. 5 tables and 16 references

Date Published: January 1, 1997