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week 2 discussion 1

  • What must the department or agency do to limit liability in the event of injury or death resulting from a police pursuit-related collision?  
  • What actions are necessary for establishing a pursuit training program?
  • Who are the stakeholders for such a program?  
  • Should law enforcement agencies place more significant restrictions on police-related vehicle pursuits?  Why or why not?  
  • How would these restrictions impact vehicle pursuit training?

Our discussion first, then the individuals response, tell the bad and good of post list references

The department must analyze and establish a policy regarding what is considered a valid pursuit and which ones should be called off. Many officers run code to almost everything, just because they can. This practice must be evaluated, and only life threatening emergencies should be validated. Training for pursuits is difficult to accurately prepare for. Police response can always train for known hazards, road conditions etc. The problem with this training is the unpredictable public. They usually do anything but what you want or expect when you are in a hurry (Shultz, Hudak, & Alpert, 2009 p.3). Some of this is also due to high stress of the officer, and his perception and reaction times are compromised. According to the reading, an effective training program would include a field training component, where a seasoned officer is paired with a less experienced officer who can observe and evaluate pursuits and code runs. The field training can be more valuable than classroom or staged trainings, because it places the officer in a real, unpredictable situation and the experienced officer can give input and advice to the new officer, helping to bridge the training vs. real world gap.

The stakeholders for this program would be the department who assumes liability for officers involvements, as well as the officers, who can be held responsible for mistakes that result in injury or loss to the public. The community also holds an express interest in this program, because ultimately, it is their safety that law enforcement is attempting to preserve in undertaking this dangerous practice. Every time an officer speeds through an intersection, he assumes the risk of an unwitting innocent bystander may not see the oncoming car and enter the intersection, causing a collision.

The ability to pursue violators is essential to the law enforcement effort, simply because if the public knows that they will not be pursued, they will be empowered to simply step on the gas every time they see an officer, and it is a free pass to escape. There is however a trade off where law enforcement is obligated to weigh risk vs. outcome, and terminate chases that simply are not worth the risk of injury or death to officer, suspect, or the public. The reading points out that terminating pursuit that do not rise to the risk level should be encouraged, and we can either track him with aerial resources or find the person again later (Shultz, Hudak, & Alpert, 2009 p. 5). This is assuming that the driver is known, and that calling off the pursuit will end the threat. Also, use of helicopters or aerial surveillance is a luxury that most departments simply do not possess. The officer should be in contact with his line supervisor, who will be required to make the decision of risk vs. benefit of continuing the pursuit. Restricting the ability to pursue is not an easy decision, simply because we do not want to give the public the knowledge that evading police is acceptable. However, we cannot risk lives by escalating traffic offenses to high speed pursuits. Educating the officers on risks, and providing field experience on effective ways to terminate unmerited pursuits can reduce those risks. We cannot completely eliminate the possibility of these risks, because of the unpredictable nature of what we do, but we can absolutely analyze and establish policies regarding valid risks, and removing needless risky behavior.

Schultz, D., Hudak, E., & Alpert, G. (2009, April). Emergency driving and pursuits: The officer’s perspectiveFBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 78(4), 1-7.

Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/2009-pdfs/april09leb.pdf

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