Pursuit of Justice: High-speed chases test law enforcement officials

A staple of any cops-and-robbers movie is the spectacular car chase scene, with its blaring sirens, screeching tires, daring maneuvers, close calls and a trail of wreckage.

In the movies, the chase usually ends in a crash with surprisingly few, if any, injuries.

The reality for law enforcement agencies here is quite different.

The Sequim Police Department’s vehicle pursuit policy says:

“Situations in law enforcement require a higher degree of common sense and sound judgment than sustained high-speed vehicular pursuits.

“Long-range consequences may hinge upon split-second decisions.”

Officers who begin pursuits, and the supervisors ultimately responsible for calling them off, must balance the public’s expectation that criminals will be caught with the danger to the public and potential liability resulting from a chase.

Unnecessary or short-lived

The small population, small urbanized areas and lack of long, straight highways in Clallam and Jefferson counties make Hollywood-style pursuits either unnecessary or short-lived, police say.

However, vehicle pursuits, including high-speed and the less well known low-speed variety, remain one of the top three liability issues for police, along with canine officers and the use of “deadly force.”

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The rest of the story appears in the Sunday Peninsula Daily News. Click on SUBSCRIBE to get the PDN delivered to your home or office.

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