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Public Attitudes Toward Police Pursuit Driving

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 26 Issue: 3 Dated: May/June 1998 Pages: 185-194
Date Published
10 pages
Because studies have reported risks and benefits of police pursuit driving but little is known about public perceptions of police pursuit driving, this study examined citizen attitudes toward police pursuit driving in Aiken County, South Carolina; Omaha, Nebraska; and Baltimore, Maryland.
The study instrument presented pursuit scenarios by creating categories that corresponded to existing empirical information on police officer decisions to engage in pursuit driving. Potential costs or risks to the public were evaluated with respect to area of pursuit, traffic, and weather conditions. Study participants were asked to imagine that the police had initiated a traffic or felony stop and that the suspect refused to pull over and actively attempted to flee and avoid apprehension. Findings from the three sites that indicated citizens supported the police in their attempt to apprehend suspects for serious crimes. This support diminished, however, when the nature of the offense was not as serious. In addition, findings suggested that public support decreased when information about the dangers of pursuit was presented. Support for pursuit was strong and criticism was minimal when a police officer was shot or a felony was committed. Support for pursuit was minimal, especially under high-risk conditions, when a traffic violator was pursued. 16 references, 4 notes, and 4 tables

Date Published: January 1, 1998