Police pursuits in Pennsylvania increase for second year in a row

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The number of police pursuits in Pennsylvania increased again last year, State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan announced today.

Law enforcement agencies across the state reported involvement in 1,522 vehicle pursuits in 2012, compared to 1,453 pursuits in 2011. Of the 1,522 pursuits, 27.8 percent were discontinued by the police and 29.8 percent ended when the violator stopped voluntarily.

“Vehicle pursuits involve a very high degree of risk,” Noonan said. “We must constantly balance the risk we present to ourselves, and the public, against our duty to apprehend.”

Fourteen deaths were reported in 2012, noting that 13 of those killed were violators fleeing from police; one death was an uninvolved person. No police officers were killed as the result of police pursuits.

Noonan said 517 of the pursuits resulted in 693 crashes in 2012, with 187 of those crashes involving injuries.

“The message here is don’t run from police – it’s not worth it,” Noonan said.

The statistics are contained in the 2012 Pennsylvania Police Pursuit Report, which was compiled by state police and can be accessed through the PA State Police Reporting System at http://www.paucrs.pa.gov.

Other information contained in the report shows that:

  • More than half of all the pursuits (800) were initiated because of traffic violations, including speeding. The other most common reasons for police to initiate pursuits were for driving under the influence or suspected DUI (214); felony criminal offenses (228); and stolen or suspected stolen vehicles (131).
  • More than 70 percent of pursuits resulted in the ultimate apprehension of the fleeing motorist.
  • More than 58 percent of the apprehensions were accomplished using a trailing pursuit, in which officers simply follow the violator’s vehicle in attempt to bring it to a stop. Trailing pursuits are the least aggressive type of pursuit.

“Under state law, every police department in Pennsylvania must have a written emergency vehicle-response policy governing procedures under which an officer should initiate, continue or terminate a pursuit,” Noonan said. “By law, these policies are confidential.”

The Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code defines a pursuit as, an “attempt by a police officer operating a motor vehicle to apprehend one or more occupants of a vehicle when the driver of the vehicle is resisting the apprehension by maintaining or increasing his speed or by ignoring the police officer’s audible or visual signal to stop.

Since 1996, the vehicle code has required state police to compile and publish pursuit reports.

Police agencies in Pennsylvania report pursuit data directly to state police through the Internet-based Pennsylvania Police Pursuit Reporting System, which is maintained by the state police Bureau of Research and Development.

The report is designed to provide statistical information to police agencies to help them evaluate their pursuit policies and to help identify training successes and deficiencies.

The report does not attempt to explain increases or decreases in any of the categories and does not organize the statistics by department, municipality or county.

For more information about the PA State Police, visit http://www.psp.state.pa.us.

Source: State Police

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