The Police Entrance Exam - Vehicle Pursuits
Sergeant George Godoy
The information presented here is meant to be used as a rule of thumb guideline for vehicle pursuit questions on police entrance exams. Both the police written test and the oral board interview may include judgment questions regarding vehicle pursuits. Police agencies do not want to hire someone who disregards the safety of the public in order to stop a vehicle for a minor traffic violation.
Vehicle pursuits are always regulated by jurisdictional policies and applicable city, state, and federal laws. This article is intended to provide a common sense approach to vehicle pursuits based on a compilation of different police policies from several jurisdictions.
Decision To Initiate A Vehicle Pursuit
The officer intending to stop a vehicle will make every effort to avoid a vehicle pursuit. Activation of lights and siren are delayed whenever possible, until the officer is close enough that the opportunity to flee appears to be unavailable to the operator of the suspect vehicle.
If the operator of the suspect vehicle chooses to avoid being stopped and attempts to flee, the decision to initiate a vehicle pursuit lies with the individual officer.
Certain actions taken by the operator of the fleeing vehicle may escalate the danger to the public, the suspect operator, and the pursuing officer(s). In these cases, jurisdictional policy will prevail in determining whether a pursuit is continued or called off.
Any officer involved in a vehicle pursuit must drive with due regard for the safety of all persons concerned and any exemptions granted the officer, as an authorized operator of an emergency vehicle, do not include protection from the consequences of that officer driving with reckless disregard for the safety of others.
A vehicle pursuit study, covering 800 municipal and county agencies, indicated that two factors were likely to determine support for a vehicle pursuit:
1. The severity of the offense committed by the suspect
2. The risk to the public (traffic, road, and weather conditions)