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Pursuit at High Speeds

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 25 Issue: 9 Dated: September 1998 Pages: 50-54
K W Strandberg
Date Published
5 pages
This article examines technology that may make high-speed chases safer or eliminate them altogether.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that a police department is liable for injuries resulting from a high-speed pursuit only if the actions of the officer "shocked the conscience." This ruling gives law enforcement more latitude when deciding if pursuit is warranted, but it is important that they have criteria upon which to base the decision and to support the action after the fact. Officers must constantly weigh the danger to the public against the need to capture an individual. Technological developments can help law enforcement. Many departments use spike strips, including some that can be remotely deployed, that puncture a vehicle's tires to slow it down and stop it. Many large departments also use air support during pursuits, so chase cars don't need to keep the fleeing vehicle in sight. An Emergency Vehicle Early Warning Safety System will reduce accidents at intersections. Computers and the GPS system, vehicle-to-vehicle communications (eliminating the cumbersome and time-consuming procedure of talking through the dispatcher), and remotely activated retractable barrier strips can also have an impact on high-speed pursuits.