Police pursuits are a necessary evil in the world of law enforcement. The problem is that far too many people (officers, innocent bystanders and suspects) are losing their lives as a result of these pursuits. Not only is there a cost in lives, but there is a huge financial burden associated with police pursuits as well. The settlements from lawsuits associated with police pursuits have reached into the millions of dollars, and law enforcement agencies simply cannot afford them. The attitude of the general public has changed. Where they used to expect law enforcement to chase criminals until they are caught, now they expect law enforcement to weigh the need against the dangers involved and be held accountable for their decision.
This research paper will bring to light the need for restrictive pursuit policies. It will address the need to weigh the severity of the crime versus the danger the pursuit imposes on the public and the pursuing officer. Some of the ideas discussed will include alternative ways to track the suspect vehicle, ways of disabling the suspect vehicle, and things that need to be taken into consideration for initiating, continuing, or terminating a pursuit. The research will show that police pursuits are costly: both in lives and money. In Clark v. South Carolina Department of Public Safety, the courts held that it is the pursuing officer and the department’s responsibility to know when to terminate a pursuit (Batterton, 2008). If guidelines for when it is acceptable to initiate or continue a pursuit are spelled out in a policy that the officer is familiar with, then there should be a reduction in the loss of life and ordered judgements from the court.