In Florida, when a suspect flees the scene of a crime in a vehicle, it can result in a high-speed chase. These police pursuits are known to be dangerous and require careful yet quick decision-making on the part of the officers involved. All it takes is one small mistake and lives of innocent bystanders can be put into jeopardy.
According to USA Today, many police chases occur due to minor traffic violations or other minor crimes. Citing the need to protect the public and maintain order, officers insist that going after vehicles is necessary. However, since 1979, the amount of innocent people who have been killed in a crash that involved a chase equals to half of the more than 5,000 reported fatalities. Some point out that it is even dangerous for the authorities who are involved and it is considered to be one of the most dangerous law enforcement activities by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Steps have been taken by law enforcement agencies locally to ensure that officers always keep public safety in mind when considering a possible high-speed chase situation. In the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s State Highway Patrol Policy Manual, for example, the main goal of its policy is to ensure that the risk being taken makes sense in relation to the crime and the person being pursued.
In addition, the Highway Patrol policies prohibit officers from going after people in a vehicle if they are not suspected of drunk driving, risking public safety or committing a felony. A chase can only be initiated when the officer believes a person has committed the crime before they attempt to stop his or her vehicle. If a chase occurs, the officer must yield the right-of-way to other traffic, and the vehicle’s lights and sirens must be on.