A recent USA today article pointed out the fact that the FBI’s figures on police pursuit related deaths were grossly understated. A part of the reason for this is that police fatalities during high speed pursuits were sometimes placed in a more generic category, but it still makes one wonder why they would do that- especially given that it’s a situation that is apparently taking the lives of a lot more policemen than was previously thought.
According to the FBI report, a scant 24 officers were killed while in “hot pursuit” during the period from 1980 to 2014. At the same time, a USA today investigation uncovered a figure that was much closer to 371.
Why is it important that these figures be as accurate as possible? The answer lies in the fact that the FBI figures seem to indicate that pursuit driving is relatively safe in most instances, but the figures uncovered by USA Today indicate that there are some huge concerns that need to be addressed with how police departments handle “Hot Pursuit” situations. It makes it so important to find out whose figures are accurate in order to determine whether police departments around the country should stand pat on how they handle pursuit chases or whether some policy changes are badly needed. Since the FBI did not directly refute the findings by the USA investigation, it would seem that they may be onto something.
In their defense, the FBI did do a nice job in 2012 of warning police officers of the dangers of laying spikes on the road to puncture the tires of vehicles that were being pursued. Over 20 officers have been killed during the process of laying spikes on the road since they were first used in 1996. All of these statistics point out the dangers for police officers during the entirety of the high speed pursuit process.
Police pursuit training and driving begins early in any patrol officer’s career. It underscores the importance for these officers to not only protect themselves during a high speed pursuit but to carefully consider several factors before ever initiating a chase in the first place. Not only is it dangerous for the officers themselves during the pursuit, but there is a high risk of injury or the accidental death of innocent civilians during the pursuit also. Here are some of the things that must be considered at the very least before an officer initiates a high speed chase:
- The severity of the crime that the person the officer is about to chase committed
- The dangers present in the immediate area of the chase, such as if it’s a crowded shopping area or a school zone
- The traffic situation in the area
- The weather and road conditions in the area
One thing is for sure with the facts that the USA Today shed light on; it’s a situation that must be looked at more closely to ensure both the protection of police officers and the safety of innocent civilians.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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