Training >> Browse Articles >> Police Driving


The Art of the Chase: Vehicle Pursuits

The Art of the Chase: Vehicle Pursuits

Sergeant George M. Godoy

Restricted Pursuits

Some jurisdictions have very restrictive pursuit policies. For example, the Denver Police Department enacted a policy restricting vehicle pursuits and officers are not authorized to pursue vehicles that:

  • are stolen or involved in non-violent crimes
  • are simply fleeing
  • are in violation of traffic laws
  • are involved in hit and run accidents not involving death or serious injury

Due to the increase in lawsuits, many municipalities have enacted heavy restrictions on pursuits. However, a recent poll by the US Justice Department indicates that officer initiated vehicle pursuits are generally supported by the public as a quality crime ­fighting tool. 70% of those polled said pursuits were a necessary risk in the war on crime. Over half of those polled thought the decision to pursue should made by the officer and not restricted by department policy. Many experienced cops believe that over-restricting their ability to conduct vehicle pursuits, severely handcuffs their ability to do effective police work. They feel such restrictions give the bad guys another weapon against law enforcement.


Definition of Vehicle Pursuit – An active attempt by one or more police officers to apprehend a suspect who is operating a motor vehicle and trying to avoid capture.

Suspect tactics may include driving at high-speeds and evasive tactics, such as driving off the roadway, making sudden or unexpected movements or maintaining a legal speed, but failing to yield to the officer’s signal to stop. Routine traffic stops or other instances where officers activate emergency lights and siren and the operator stops within a reasonably short distance are not a vehicle pursuit.

When answering common-sense questions about high-speed pursuits, consider this:

No assignment is of such importance and no task need be expedited with such speed, that the risk to public safety become secondary. No task undertaken in the official capacity of a police officer is of such importance to justify the reckless disregard of the officer’s safety, or the safety of others.

Before initiating a vehicle pursuit, an officer should determine if:

  • The suspect presents a clear and immediate threat to the safety of others
  • The suspect has committed or is attempting to commit a serious crime
  • The necessity of immediate apprehension outweighs the level of danger created by pursuit

All emergency vehicle operations should be conducted in strict accordance with existing statutes. When engaged in any vehicle pursuit, an officer will simultaneously use the police vehicle emergency lights and siren.

This article was written by Sgt. George M. Godoy of PoliceExam911 and was republished with permission. Sgt. Godoy offers a Police Training Video Course that guarantees improved scores and results for police applicants. RealPolice endorses the PoliceExam911 training method and highly recommends it for police applicants or students serious about getting into law enforcement.

  • Avatar_max160_max160_max50


    over 4 years ago


    What? No new articles?

  • Mustang1_max50


    over 5 years ago


    Very Informative.. Well maintained Police vehicles and experienced drivers is a requisite

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 6 years ago


    Good info and Officer Safety training

  • Mourning_star_max50


    almost 6 years ago


    Hey bad guys...If you don't feel like stopping when we try and pull you over...DON'T! Just keep on driving. Heck do what ever you want! And if we still stick behind you, with our annoying lights and sirens, just drive faster and more reckless, because it's the initial reason for the stop that counts. Right? Drive the wrong way on a highway at 20+over the speed limit? That's not dangerous, we don't need to stop you. It's not like you were pointing a gun at anyone. It's not like you're a hazard to the public, and could kill someone with your reckless disregard for life, safety, and the concerns of others. Oh yeah, and last but not least, it's OUR fault you are running, because you wouldn't be running if we weren't chasing you. By the way, did I mention that we caught a homicide suspect, (convicted) for a head light out on a traffic stop? Can I also mention that he had left the scene of one killing of a family member with an axe, and was on the way to another family members house with said axe? He didn't run, but what if he did? According to this, we should have let him go because it was only a headlight, right? Someone would have died. The true deterent to these pursuits is to make it so hanous a crime, that you get thrown under the jail, not the misdomeanor it is now. Even now that we have a felony pursuit charge, it still doesn't have teeth. You should be able to articulate attempted murder when someone purposely drives at excessive speeds, and/or are reckless on purpose in order to get officers to break off the pursuit. Ask yourself this...if a man was walking down the street with a gun and was pointing it at people, what would you're reaction, and use of force be? How is that different than a one ton vehicle at 30 or 40 miles or more over the speed limit? The vehicle is being used as a weapon.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 6 years ago

    Where's the Art part?

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    almost 6 years ago


    i thought this was a decent intro to someone that might face these types of questions on his/her police exam. should give them a good idea of what to answers to pick.

  • Usmcrlee_max50


    almost 6 years ago


    The title of the article and the brief description were completly misleading. I wound up skimming through the pages trying to find something worth reading. I'll print this off and read it to my kids to put them to sleep at night....

  • Blue_hills_max50


    almost 6 years ago


    Remember... it's the suspect who initiates the pursuit, not the officer. The suspect sets the event into motion when they choose to ignoire our lights/siren and elude us. Thank you for reminding everyone that we MUST always operate our vehcles with due regard for public safety. Times have changed folks, we have to be much smarter about the way we drive and who/when we pursue. Go home safe to your family! Don't get tied up in unnecessary litigation or better yet DIE froma wreck because you just had to chase the stop sign runner at high speeds. Be smart and be safe. Cornman, OCPD LEDT

PoliceLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a degree program. Use PoliceLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.

Recent Activity

Stvdaazvais posted in: "Family Game Night About The Ps 3", 1 minute ago.
klamm143 posted in: "Photo's", 7 minutes ago.
MarlyB posted in: "Photo's", 12 minutes ago.
MarlyB posted in: "Well, So What We Gonna Do NOW???", 14 minutes ago.