U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Dynamics of Vehicle Chases in Real Life

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 51 Issue: 7 Dated: July 2003 Pages: 68,70,74
Arthur Sharp
Date Published
July 2003
5 pages
This article reports on the findings of a survey that examined the policies and views on police pursuits of 30 randomly selected law enforcement departments of all specialties and sizes.

Eighty-three percent of these departments stated that they restrict the circumstances under which officers are allowed to engage in vehicular pursuits. Ninety-three percent limit the number of cars that may be involved. Policies tend to limit the involvement of unmarked cars in pursuits because of their lack of visibility and emergency lights. Should unmarked cars begin pursuits, they drop out as soon as a marked unit is engaged. Ninety percent of the respondents stated that their safe-pursuit policies are becoming more restrictive. This is due to increasing concerns about citizen and officer safety, the threat of civil lawsuits, and the adverse media publicity about police pursuits that cause harm. The majority of agencies have policies that specify when a chase can be initiated or terminated, and by whom. The most frequently mentioned conditions to be considered in the pursuit decisions are the nature of the suspect's violation, weather, the presence of pedestrians on the roadway, the benefits compared with the dangers of chasing a suspect, the patrol car's capabilities, and officers' familiarity with the roads. Eighty-three percent of the responding departments indicated that their officers are trained in pursuit driving and the decisions about whether or not to pursue a particular suspect. This article also presents survey findings on the content of pursuit written reports, the particular infractions for which departmental policies allow pursuits, and who has the authority to terminate a pursuit.


No download available