Cops chasing suspects: why does it go on?

Every now and then I see a police car, or several of them, chasing a suspect who won’t pull over. Granted ramming the car or shooting out the tires is futile and perhaps dangerous on a freeway…but why are there never any police units up ahead, to intercept the fleeing car? If cops up ahead blocked the suspect’s progress, especially on a freeway, he would have nothing to do but pull over and get out and flee on foot.
And isn’t it interesting that the suspect’s car never breaks down, or runs out of gas? Nor does he ever get stalled by (suddenly?) very heavy traffic–especially on a freeway!
And I didn’t see the movie Vanishing Point, but I think they amassed an immovable blockade there–as mentioned by ex-cop Rodd Dornsife in The Ticket Book. Or maybe the suspect might have to go to the bathroom? :smiley:

Lots of those things happen to fleeing suspects. It’s also very hard to setup a roadblock if the blockee has choices of where to turn. Helecopters help but roadblocks can often be avoided.

You watch way too much Channels 5, 9 and 11 (LA TV stations noted for showing car chases. I once saw a police chase that ended in the suspect being shot. The chased vehicle has gotten slowed down by traffic, why do you think these guys sometimes drive in the emergency lane (ya know the one next to the center barrier or next to the slow lane) or if they are on surface streets they are going the wrong way in traffic. The police have to be careful what they do because the street are, for some reason, filled with people not involved and don’t want to be involved in a car chase. How embarrassing-I just realized I watch way too many car chases. Gotta go I am sure there has to be one going on now, don’t want to miss it.

One time the Texas DPS had two 18-wheelers park crossways and block Interstate 20. How do I know this? My dad was in the passenger seat of the car they wanted to stop (his future brother-in-law was driving). He didn’t do anything bad though…just 135 mph in a 55 zone…:D:D:D

Those police-chase videos sure are addictive, though; I hope the high-speed pursuits continue just so Fox can keep them in its lineup. If it weren’t for all the inane chatter of the news dweeb, I could watch that stuff all day long.

Have you seen the one with the guy on the motorcycle who winds up smacking into a bus as he crests an off-ramp, and then when the cops get there and he’s writhing on the ground in agony from the enormous blunt-force trauma he’s just subjected his body to, he’s still trying to crawl away.

Man, them chemicals will mess you up.

You can tell how dumb criminals are just by seeing them still fighting when they have been caught and have no chance of getting away. A guy has five cops on top of him and he’s still fighting them!

Actually, a former co worker of mine “resisted arrest” with like 5 cops on him. The judge found him not guilty by reason of insanity (he just ** had ** to be nuts). Actually, I agreed with the judge, he ** was ** nuts. :rolleyes:

I was friends with a guy who ended up getting killed as the result of a police chase. He was not the one being chased. He was simply driving down the street when another vehicle, which was being chased by the police at a high rate of speed on a residential street, slammed head first into his car. My friend lingered in the hospital for about a day and a half before his parents had him taken off the machines. He was just a kid, only 18. The part that made me angry was that ten or more police cars were chasing a man who had committed an unarmed robbery at a shoe store. He only got away with like $20, and the police chased him for over five miles before the accident stopped him cold in his tracks. The bastard lived, unfortunately. The part that really made me angry was that he got 25 years in jail for the unarmed robbery, and only 18 months for killing my friend.

The cops chase the criminals in the hopes that the criminal does not get away to commit another crime.

That being said, sentences related to homicide with cars are way too lenient in comparison with homicide by guns. Some people do not belong behind the wheel of any vehicle, but the light sentences or lack of charges one gets for killing someone with a car, emboldens the dangerous drivers to hit the road with impunity.

Not only that, but do you think anyone would ever stop if they knew cops never chased anybody? Punishment isn’t just for the wrongdoers, it’s supposed to work as a deterrent so others don’t act criminal.

Agreed. A car is very useful, extremely useful, but it also demands responsibility and respect. A violation of that responsibility should be met with much more dire consequences.

IIRC, Baltimore has instituted a “no chase” policy. The idea is the helicopters monitor suspects to see where they stop then have the ground units close in.

Here in Quebec there was an incident where the jackass trying to evade the police crashed his car and killed himself and his passenger. The media blamed the police and a big fuss was kicked up over how there shouldn’t be car chases. Stupid stupid stupid. Some guy breaks the law, he should be caught. Period. If he kills someone trying to get away, he should be held fully accountable.

Y’know, if I think about this anymore, I’m liable to get pittish. Grrr.

This subject was just covered on a TLC /Discovery program. Pretty much the same points of view as are being expressed here. It was mentioned that Cities and Counties are instigating more no chase policies. As Jeff Olson mentioned, Boston does have a no chase policy, but it is very expensive to operate a helicopter versus a patrol car. The work that is being done now is in refining technology to direct electrical charges fleeing suspects engine. The charge is to “burn out” the onboard computer chips and shut the car down.

In Denver there have been a couple of recent chases that ended with innocent drivers being killed by the fleeing suspect. I really think that this type of pursuit is dangerous and should be controlled, but I do not think you can just let people go.

I would think the cases where police stop someone in less violent methods are far, far more common.

Police in many states wont go into high speed chases or stop once a helicopter gets above. They just keep track of him until he stops or runs out of gas.

The road block method wouldn’t win many friends, some idiot would try and ram it and the police, for the most part, do not want the suspect hurt or get that kind of damage to police property.

Lots of places use the spikes across the road that slowly let the air out of the suspects tires. These result in mixed reactions, you have to get it in the exact path of the car (kinda easy to avoid) and you have to get it out of the way before the chase cars roll over it too.

I mean, those chase videos are cool and all, but you see the same ones over and over again, so you know most people just give it up.


dewt writes:

> Here in Quebec there was an incident where the jackass
> trying to evade the police crashed his car and killed
> himself and his passenger. The media blamed the police
> and a big fuss was kicked up over how there shouldn’t be
> car chases. Stupid stupid stupid. Some guy breaks the
> law, he should be caught. Period. If he kills someone
> trying to get away, he should be held fully accountable.

Consider the alternatives. Let’s take the case mentioned before, where someone robbed a store of $20. The police have two alternatives: They could continue every high-speed chase, or they could quit any chase that involved a minor crime. Suppose they have a policy of continuing every chase (and further suppose that the person being chase is prosecuted for vehicular assault or murder if he hits anyone). What bad things could happen from this? Well, there’s a given percentage chance that an innocent bystander will be killed or injured. There’s a long enough history of police chases that it should be possible to know fairly accurately what the chances are of someone being injured or killed. Furthermore, for each crash that kills or injures a bystander, the person being chased will spend some given amount of years in jail for the crime, and that jail time will cost the state (or province) some given amount. Also, this crash has some given chance of injuring the police, the person being chased, their cars, and houses along the streets. This should be figured in, since this is also a cost to society.

On the other hand, suppose they take the other alternative and quit any high-speed chase where they’re following someone who’s committed certain minor crimes. What bad thing could happen from this? Well, the claim is that this will allow someone to get away who will go on to commit further crimes. (I wonder though. Surely in some cases the police can see the license plate as the car pulls away. Won’t they be able to catch the criminal in some cases even if they don’t continue the case?) O.K., let’s assume that’s true. For every chase that’s stopped, there’s a certain number of later crimes that will be committed.

It should be possible to calculate this. For every 1000 high-speed chases continued, there will be w number of deaths, x number of injuries, y amount of dollars in property destroyed, and z amount of dollars in jail time that the state will spend. For every 1000 chases that are stopped, there should be a certain given number of extra crimes committed. Figure in the same way what the cost to society in terms of deaths, injuries, and property lost results from those crimes.

I don’t have these numbers, but I suspect that they can be calculated. I suspect that they would show that it’s better to stop a chase for a minor crime but to continue it for a major crime.

Oh, I forgot to mention one thing: Even if you do capture a criminal after a chase, rather than stopping the chase, there’s still a good chance that he will go on to commit other crimes after serving his sentence. So what you need to figure in as the benefit of continuing the chase is how much extra crime a criminal who has been let go will commit compared to one is arrested and served his sentence.

Judging by the chase videos shown on TV, a good majority of chases involve stolen cars, so just getting the license plate number probably won’t do much good.