Police Pursuit Terms
It is All About Semantics
An excerpt from Candy Priano's presentation, "The Other Side of the Windshield":
We read it—and we hear it—over and over again when an innocent bystander is killed or maimed as a result of a police chase: "If the driver had not run, this tragedy would not have happened."
So, how many deaths will it take before we stop saying the obvious? How many deaths will it take before we decide to quit doing what is not working and use other resources and ways to apprehend drivers who flee?
1. It's no accident
Crimes committed with cars are becoming more common. Accidents are not premeditated. Pursuits occur when a person decides to flee and an officer decides to chase. People who flee are self-absorbed; they are not thinking about the safety of others. So, the burden to protect innocent victims, by necessity, falls on the police. "Car accident" is not accurate. The U.S. Department of Transportation uses the term "crash.
"Calling it an 'accident' evokes a negative reaction because of the way Desiree was killed," wrote Ron Guzman, father of Desiree, 14. Desiree and three other innocent bystanders were killed as a result of chase through a California school zone.
Calling it an "accident" negates the crime. The media can effect change the quickest by banning the use of the word "accident" when reporting on crashes resulting from police vehicular chases and emergency-response calls.
2. "Catching up," "following," & "pursuing"
Police chases lasts an average of 2.5 minutes and end with at least one death a day. Innocent bystanders pay the ultimate price three of those seven days. These deaths occur whether an officer is "catching up," "following," or "pursuing." If the officer or officers are visible in the driver's rearview mirror, the driver will not know the officers were "just following."
3. The pursuit was not high-speed.
If the pursuit was not high-speed that means low-speed chases kill.
4. Back off
The term "back off" means officers turn off their lights and sirens, turn around, and drive away in the opposite direction of the suspect. It does not include turning off lights and sirens and still continue to follow the driver. If the officer or officers are visible in the driver's rearview mirror, the driver will not know the pursuit was called off.
It is too late to back off when the pursuit is approaching a school zone, begins on busy streets, or the known driver is a flight risk, e.g., parolee, car thief.
5. "The pursuit just got started."
Then the pursuit never should have begun. Example: Officers identify a car as stolen or see a wanted parolee behind the wheel of a car. They turn on their lights and sirens even though it's rush hour on a busy boulevard with many intersections in front of them. What did the officers think would happen? Do officers really believe someone in a stolen car or a wanted parolee will pull over appropriately?
It's a fact: The most common terminating factor for an urban pursuit is a crash at an intersection.
Some of the Police Chases that "Weren't" are right here.
Who are innocent bystanders?