Homeworks academic service


A discussion of the features related to police pursuits

By Terry Goldsworthy Posted January 24, 2017 12: Melbourne 3000 The carnage in Melbourne's CBD on Friday, in which five pedestrians died after being hit by a vehicle driven by a wanted offender, has again highlighted the issue of police pursuits. Any policy governing police pursuits must balance the need to apprehend offenders with community safety. So what is the appropriate balance? And have Australian jurisdictions got it right? The inherent problem with police pursuits Police pursuits are among the most challenging operational situations facing officers.

These decisions involve life-and-death outcomes and must be made quickly, under stressful conditions. Such decisions will often be dissected later in great detail, and with the benefit of hindsight.

As a Victoria Police report on pursuits said: The fallout public opinion and media commentary that follows a pursuit indicates it truly is the case of damned if you do, damned if you don't. There is no standard definition of a police pursuit in Australia.

But an Australian Institute of Criminology study applied the following definition: A police pursuit is an active attempt by a law enforcement officer operating a motor vehicle with emergency equipment to apprehend a suspected law violator in a motor vehicle, when the driver of the vehicle attempts to avoid apprehension. How common are pursuits and deaths?

An Australian Institute of Criminology study identified that in 2009 there were 3,806 pursuits, in 2010 there were 3,865 pursuits, and in 2011 there were 4,175 pursuits across Australia.

  1. When looking at pursuit data, simply recording the number of pursuits will not show anything substantive. Its reasoning is it did not want to educate criminals on how to evade police.
  2. Motor vehicle thefts, in which Milwaukee police are instructed not to engage in high-speed pursuits, increased from 12 per day in 2013 to 18 per day in 2014.
  3. High-speed pursuits can happen so suddenly that officers often have little time to think before they must make critical decisions. Vaughn asked if a suspect could be shot for possessing a small amount of crack and equated the two events.
  4. A police pursuit is an active attempt by a law enforcement officer operating a motor vehicle with emergency equipment to apprehend a suspected law violator in a motor vehicle, when the driver of the vehicle attempts to avoid apprehension. Consistency is key One of the problems with restrictive policies is that there must be consistency in how they are applied.
  5. In its ruling, the Court noted that the need to catch Garner, who was suspected of burglary, did not outweigh the suspect's life because he did not pose a considerable threat to society even though he committed a felony.

The study noted that less than 1 per cent of pursuits resulted in a fatal crash. It identified that between 2000 and 2011 there were 218 deaths in 185 crashes. Of those killed 38 per cent were bystanders, while the other 62 per cent of deaths involved the driver or passenger of the pursued vehicle. Traffic matters and stolen motor vehicles were the most-common offences prior to a fatal pursuit being commenced.

Police pursuits chart In Queensland there were 148 pursuits in 2014-15 and 135 in 2015-16.

Managing High-Speed Pursuits

Only 3 per cent of these were for matters concerning imminent threat to life, or homicide. Estimates in the US suggest one person dies every day as a result of a police pursuit. One news source claimed that between 1979 and 2013 there were 11,506 pursuit-related deaths in the US. Of those deaths approximately 1 per cent were police, 55 per cent were suspects and 44 per cent were bystanders. Pursuit policies In general, police pursuit policies could be described as those that are liberal — in that they allow officers a large degree of autonomous responsibility in deciding to continue or stop the pursuit — and those that are restrictive, which impose strict criteria that need to be satisfied before engaging in a pursuit.

  1. Future directions After reviewing its safe driving policy in the wake of pursuit-related deaths, NSW police were criticised for not releasing the updated policy.
  2. National Decision Model, United Kingdom. As a Victoria Police report on pursuits said.
  3. Suspects also endangered themselves by choosing to run from the law.

In the UK, police services rely on the National Decision Model risk management tool to decide whether a pursuit is justified. This type of policy has the advantage of providing a simple, robust and consistent policy tool for police to use in a variety of situations.

Police pursuits: when does the end justify the means?

National Decision Model, United Kingdom. Terry Goldsworthy Despite impressions to the contrary in the media, the US has moved toward more restrictive policies.

In Australia, there has been a general movement toward more restrictive pursuit policies as police services seek to reduce their exposure to risk. In 2016, as a result of a report into police pursuitsthe Australian Capital Territory restricted pursuits to when there is a serious risk to public safety, or in relation to a major crime involving the injury or death of a person.

Do restrictive policies work? To complement the more restrictive pursuit policies, there are moves to create offences or increase penalties for those who seek to evade police. In simple terms, the theory is to let offenders flee and catch them later. This policy is only effective if you actually charge the offender with the offence at a later date.

In Queensland in 2016 there were 5,018 incidents of evading police. But just 43 per cent, or 2,180 cases, resulted in someone being charged. Of more concern was that the number of incidents of evading police increased by 36 per cent, up from 3,695 in 2015. It could be argued that offenders are learning that, by not stopping for police, they will never be brought to account. In 2012, Western Australia introduced tough new laws for those who evade police, with mandatory sentences.

But despite this, pursuits have increased.

  • Police can then follow up on the vehicle once it is parked to apprehend the suspect;
  • But just 43 per cent, or 2,180 cases, resulted in someone being charged;
  • Pursuit Policies Since high-speed pursuits are so dangerous, why are they so prevalent?

There is also now a push by the WA opposition and the police union to allow police to ram fleeing vehicles. Consistency is key One of the problems with restrictive policies is that there must be consistency in how they are applied. Recent examples in Queensland have highlighted this inconsistency.

  • So the goal is not to prohibit pursuits but reduce their number;
  • Supreme Court case that established officers cannot legally kill unarmed persons just because they are running away from the officers;
  • This decision should be made based on the agency's policy;
  • A Level 3 Control could be ramming the suspects' car or using firearms;
  • An officer should respond with Level 2 Controls, including rolling roadblocks or controlled deflation devices spike strips;
  • Highway Patrol officers were told to only chase criminals suspected of violent felonies, drunk drivers, and reckless drivers.

In one instance, an officer doing in excess of 200kmh in pursuit of an offender was stood down and disciplined. There is also the case of two Queensland police officers currently before the courts on charges of dangerous driving for allegedly continuing to pursue offenders wanted for violent armed robberies, despite the pursuit being terminated by senior officers.

  • Crime rises when agencies declare a no-pursuit policy;
  • Police departments can opt out, for example, of giving NHTSA an accurate count of officers, bystanders, and suspects injured or killed as a result of high-speed chases;
  • Estimates in the US suggest one person dies every day as a result of a police pursuit.

WA introduced new laws aimed at protecting police from criminal charges after an officer killed a bystander during a high-speed pursuit. Future directions After reviewing its safe driving policy in the wake of pursuit-related deaths, NSW police were criticised for not releasing the updated policy.

Victoria Police has been similarly criticised in the wake of the Bourke St deaths for not releasing its pursuit policy. Its reasoning is it did not want to educate criminals on how to evade police. But such reasoning is infantile.

There must be transparency on policies that have such an impact on life-and-death situations involving innocent members of the public. While Victoria Police's actions in last week's events will be examined, the aim should not be to lay blame, but rather improve the tools police have at their disposal to deal with highly fluid and dangerous events.

After all, policing is not an easy job. Terry Goldworthy is assistant professor in Criminology at Bond University.