Table of Contents
- Research Identification
- Historical Evidence
- Research Hypothesis
- Research Methodology
- Literature Review
- Part I Police Pursuits and Social Aspect
- Part II Police Pursuits and Legal Aspect
- Discussion and Analysis
- Recommended Strategies
The international contemporary political agenda identifies police pursuits as one of the most routinely encountered practice of criminal offenders combating (LA Department, 1998). In particular, very often the alleged offenders aspire to escape justice using their vehicular facilities. The key dilemma faced by police officers is the indication whether the potential benefits of an alleged offender apprehension are bigger than the risks associated with the harm infliction to policy officers, fleeing suspects and bystanders, who are not involved directly or indirectly in the process of chasing.
A popular academic opinion expressed in this regard is ambivalent. While the overwhelming majority of the law enforcement favorably oriented scholars vigorously advocate the idea that the imposition of excessive restrictions on police officers, who pursue the alleged criminals, can imperil their subsequent apprehension, since police officers may lack the legal power to undertake a particular detainment action. On the other hand, allowing them to act at large may result in a significant number of the negligent harm inflicted to suspects, police officers taking part in the pursuit and the general public as well.
Many issues contribute to the aggravation of the discussed problem. In particular, it has been assumed that future police officers are sufficiently instructed in terms of the personal arms application, but their driving skills remain inadequate for effective, as well as careful and secure pursuit of an alleged criminal. Moreover, it has been proposed for subsequent scholarly analyses that whatever training techniques are applied, they are not effective until a sufficient experience is gathered by a recruit, although there is no sufficient empirical evidence in this regard.
This part of the paper outlines the history of police pursuits, identifies the research hypotheses of the research and focuses on the popular academic opinion upon the subject at issue.
With regard to the growing number of lawsuits initiated by the damaged pedestrians, drivers and released criminals against the Department of Justice, the need to focus on police pursuits and their consequences becomes alarming. In other words, it is the task of practical necessity and immense theoretical importance to conclude whether the practice of reckless police pursuits is indeed justified in the light of casualties number of apprehended criminals ratio (Ackley Police Department, 2013).
The objectives of criminal justice are encapsulated in multiple academic works and legislative documents. The principle of obligatory punishment is, therefore, recognized as one of the most fundamental pillars of the United States of America existence as an independent international institution. While promulgating this objective, drafters of the United States Constitution and respective legislative provisions failed to recognize that the law enforcement may be inherently connected with the harm infliction.
However, a superfluous analysis of the available statistical findings and scholarly works, augmented with profound empirical studies conducted by the law enforcement enmeshed government agencies precisely indicated that the outcome is positive, since 91% of the entire number of pursuits ever initiated by the United States police officers resulted in offenders apprehension, while the alleged criminals remained unharmed and fit for the subsequent trial (Geller & Scott, 1992).
Overall, the objective of this paper is to demonstrate that however perilous socially and detrimental financially the practice of the police pursuits may happen to be, the outcomes obtained outweigh significantly the incurred financial loss and human fatalities among the civil population. The second part of the paper illustrates that although substantial indemnifications are regularly paid out by the United States Department of Justice to casual victims of police pursuits, generally this financial burden is overcome successfully.
Finally, the paper seeks to establish that the implementation and integration of the modern chasing technologies can significantly reduce the casualties among police officers, suspects and bystanders, while simultaneously reducing the financial harm inflicted to the community.
The first cases of police pursuits are documented by the historians of the ancient Rome and Egypt, demonstrating that the chasers used horses and chariots to detain the alleged criminals. Moreover, the manuscripts precisely demonstrate that the same problems were attributable to the law enforcers of the ancient times. The lawyers of ancient Rome initiated multiple legal proceedings, claiming that the marketplaces were destroyed by the soldiers chasing those deserters, or that a batch of commodities that had just arrived from Africa were totally destroyed by the Roman legionaries pursuing an alleged murderer of their commander (Alpert, 2011).
The Anglo-Saxon history of the United Kingdom revealed the presence of the similar problems. Most notably, the pursuit often resulted in the demise of the offender or, if offender happened to be more dexterous or physically prepared than his chasers, first police officers were often harmed.
The first United States police officers were often using horses to catch criminals, and the mortality rates reported to be extremely high then on pedestrians, the first police department and criminals.
The research hypothesis of this problem is to establish that current methods employed by police departments are completely consistent with the international practice, and the casualties among police officers and the civil population are completely admissible, since the objective of apprehending a criminal is considerably more important. Secondly, it is assumed that the integration of modern technologies into the pursuit process would result positively in terms of the task of victims and casualties reduction.
Moreover, for the needs of this paper, we assume that financial damages inflicted by police officers during pursuits is relatively acceptable and can be indemnified from the public treasury in general and from the resources of the Department of Justice in particular.
For the needs of this paper, a combinative approach regarding the research strategy has been followed.
- Firstly, in order to aggregate sufficient statistical background, the reports issued by the state authorities in general and by the Department of Justice in particular have been analyzed.
- Secondly, scholarly interpretation of those findings has been consulted in order to conclude their legitimacy, academic soundness and practical applicability.
- Thirdly, we referred to the international evaluation of the road and traffic situation of the United States of America, as well as the analysis of the documents and papers published by reputable international organizations.
Considering the presence of statistical findings, the study can be defined as cross-sectional in its nature.
This multifarious approach enables to gather information from different sources, hereby ensuring the absence of statistical or academic bias, which is most indispensably present in the event of one or several sources of the similar nature being consulted exclusively. The unanimous opinion of researches in this regard is that the combination of theoretical and practical documents and working papers culminates in a fusion, which can be considered as a legitimate and practically applicable instrument.
Part I Police Pursuits and Social Aspect
Currently employed methods of police pursuit and the problems
Despite the fact that the majority of the United States country divisions have their own, clearly formulated police guidelines on how pursuits of criminals should be correctly conducted, these guidelines are considerably outdated; hence, they do not consider a high-speed capacity of modern vehicles. Thus, reviews and modernizations of these guidelines are often culminated with their more restrictive role, whereas police officers, who directly participate in pursuits, have reported that these restrictions negatively influence the outcome of the entire process (Boston Department, 1999).
For the needs of this paper, it is practically important to emphasize the fact the different states employ various policies in terms of high-speed chase regulations. For instance, the state of Dallas is known to have one of the most sophisticated and articulate high-speed pursuit regulatory frameworks.
Therefore, it is particularly highlighted that the Department of Justice in Dallas prioritizes the well-being and security of the ordinary citizens, while mandating police officers to make every reasonable attempts to detain the escaping offenders (Chicago, Department, 1997). At the same time, the law strictly prohibits the officers to drive so recklessly, as to endanger the well-being and lives of innocent citizens, spectaculars, bystanders and other general public, who can be indirectly affected by the high-speed pursuit.
Generally, the officers of Dallas Police Department are required to take the following actions, while pursuing a criminal. Firstly, they must activate escalating flashers and mandate the escaping car to stop, using the visual or audible signaling equipment. The second step involves the activation of headlights and siren.
Besides, there is a specific legal provision, which prohibits pursuits in the event the emergency equipment is not absolutely functional and free from defects. Upon the completion of the above-mentioned steps, the officers are required to analyze the following factors. First and foremost, the nature of the allegedly perpetrated violation is to be considered. To be more specific, there is no need to pursue a shoplifter in the highly congested traffic, since the financial damage which can be hypothetically inflicted to the circulated car owners can be considerably bigger than the damage, which was done to the shop by the offender (Iowa Department, 2007).
However, in cases of the aggravated murder, robbery, hijacking or drug trafficking, any attempts initiated by offenders to escape should be most indispensably prevented. Secondly, the time of the day and climatic conditions should be taken into consideration, since at night, the pursuit is considered to be more complicated; hence, more damage can be done. Climatically, chasing offenders in winter or spring, when the road surface is not in a perfect state, is very difficult and inherently connected with crushes and other detrimental activity. The most factor to consider is the geographic location, since the pursuits conducted in rural areas are less harmful for the local population, police officers and criminals themselves.
In rural areas, the traffic congestion and the number of passengers and pedestrians is relatively lower than in cities. Statistically, for each 100 persons who die during police pursuits, 83 are killed on the streets of cities, while only 17 perish in rural areas and because of ill-conceived actions of the police or defense activities initiated by the criminals (James, 2004).
Following this assumption, the aspect of the population density analysis emerges. Therefore, before the decision to pursue a particular offender is taken synergistically by the staff of a police car, the officers must observe and conclude that the population density in a specific area is not excessive for pursuit. Legally, there is no precise requirement of how many people must be in the geographically designated area to make a pursuit impossible, given this to the discretion of the police crew. In order to analyze the situation correctly, police officers are recommended to take a specific training, assessing physically their subsequent pursuit route and obstacles that may be encountered by them and which may endanger the well-being and lives of citizens.
Then, police officers must evaluate their familiarity with the area of pursuit. Possibly, it would be convenient for them to use circumvent roads to intercept the escaping offenders or to utilize other geographically familiar means of their detainment. Pursuit in the areas where there are geographical peculiarities, especially in rural areas and countryside, is highly recommended, since offenders may be more familiar with the situation than the police crew. Statistically, it is reported that 41% of the fatalities among police officers are attributed to the use of landscape irregularities and hidden roads and ambushes by the fleeing offenders (Detroit Department, 1993).
The speed which is necessitated to capture offenders must be meticulously calculated by the police crew and should not be exceeded under any circumstances, since 95% of the entire crushes with by standing cars and pedestrians are strongly connected with the speed exceeding by the police. In conjunction with this factor, machinery capabilities of the vehicle used by the police should be meticulously analyzed. For instance, when the alleged criminals are fleeing using a modern BMW, while the chase is made on the Ford, the pursuit should not be initiated, since the population can be damaged, while offenders are likely to escape successfully due to their speed superiority.
Lastly, the proximity of educational facilities and schooling hours must be taken into consideration, since children are known to act irrationally (Baltimore, 1999). 7% of all casualties among the civil population are below 18 years, and in the course of their respective investigations, it was found out that it is of paramount significance to make children aware of such dangers in order to avoid appearing under the wheels of a police car.
Overall, the decision to initiate a pursuit should be based particularly on the absolute conclusion of the police department that the danger, which is imminent to the officer and the by standing public is less than the immediate danger that is positioned by the probable consequences of the alleged offenders escape. Moreover, when a suspect exhibits his or her intention to surrender, the pursuit should not be initiated in any event.
One of the most disputable aspects of police pursuits is a problem of the proper direction. One of the most commonly utilized defense mechanisms used by defendants in the court law is the assumption that they have not been properly instructed by police officers to stop. Therefore, it is a significant caveat for all pursing police crews to notify fleeing offenders that they should stop.
Another important argument, which has always circulated in the academic circles of the criminal justice, is the statement that pursuits are allowed only when a danger to the human life is positioned by escaping criminals. This provision should be interpreted in the light of the fact that petty crime perpetrators should not be chased on vehicles and should be apprehended another time (New York, Department, 2000).
Overall, having summarized the main points of current techniques and recommendations used by police officers, it can be inferentially concluded that this methodology is relatively consistent with the existing international standards and criminal justice postulates of the United States of America. Having analyzed the existing police guidelines on how a decision to pursue escaping offenders is to be taken, and what factors are to be taken into consideration, it becomes clear that a multifarious approach is to be followed by the officers. Moreover, it is clear that the interests of bystanders are prioritized, and in the event of the slightest danger to the life, physical health or financial interests of citizens, the pursuit will not be exercised.
However, several exceptions from this rule are present. Most notably, when suspects are considered to have committed felonies, including murder, aggravated robbery or other serious crimes, the pursuit should be conducted. Otherwise, the entire system of criminal justice of the United States can be substantially undermined by the deliberate prioritization of financial interests of citizens and business entities.
Fatalities among the police officers
Statistically, approximately 350 deaths across the United States of America are caused by police pursuits. From 1 to 5 persons who die are police officers, while the rest are civilians and escaping criminals (Alpert, 2011). Currently, it is not possible to conclude whether the premature demise of the dedicated police officers can be attributed to the deliberate actions of escaping offenders, or because of their personal reckless driving habits and miscalculations.
In comparison with other reasons of the policemens death on duty, it becomes evident that the portion of reckless driving deaths remains insignificant. To illustrate, in 2012, 127 police officers died because of their intercourse with offenders. From this list, 120 were shot during skirmishes with the criminals; five were intentionally murdered as an act of the revenge or victimized with the intent to obtain their arms, as well as police identity cards and insignia. Only two police officers died as a result of the offenders pursuit.
The death toll among police officers is traditionally high, and this possibility is always carefully analyzed and completely assumed by those, who aspire to become a member of the law enforcement agencies of the United States. Although it is not permissible socially and ethically, statistically the casualties inflicted to the ranks of the United States police force are minimal. Therefore, considering this aspect of the analyzed problem, the fatalities can be considered acceptable.
However, the fact that should be most indispensably highlighted in this context is the problem of nonrepeating. Numerous concerns have been expressed with regard to the common practice of reporting the demises of police officers as the intentional murder by offenders in order to conceal their reckless driving, which could have inflicted substantial monetary damages to the community.
Fatalities among the civilian population
In 2012, 193 pedestrians and bystanders were killed as a result of police pursuits (Ackley Police Department, 2013). In comparison with the number of the police officers dead (two officers) and the death rate among escaping offenders (95 killed), it becomes evident that those, who are completely innocent, represent the most vulnerable group of becoming possible victims. In fact, statistically, everyday someone dies as a result of police pursuits within the jurisdiction of the United States of America.
A statistical report prepared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated that approximately 375 police pursuits related deaths occurred in the USA per year, not to mention 50,000 cases of injuries. Considering the aggregate number of the entire police pursuits initiated, it can be recapitulated that every 100 pursuits taken result in one mortality case among the civilian population.
In the context of this paper, it should be contextualized that these figures have been obtained from the governmentally published sources. Nongovernmental agencies stipulated the higher figures , ranging between 400 to 500 premature demises among the civilian population per year exclusively. The problem of reporting becomes crucial in this context, since very often, the office of district attorney in clandestine synergy with police authorities classifies demises of the civilian population as intentional murders, which are attributed to escaping offenders. The judges are known to give their reticent approval to this practice.
Fatalities among the offenders
The casualty list of offenders, who died as a result of improper police pursuits, is the runner-up the victims agenda. Averagely, 350 people die annually as a result of police pursuits. From this list, approximately 70-100 dead people are the alleged criminals (Dallas Department, 1998). The statistics is aggravated by the fact that arms are commonly utilized by police officers, while pursuing criminals; and the majority of casualties are caused by firearms. In this context, it is necessary to emphasize that the use of fire is strictly regulated by the United States legislation, allowing police officers to fire exclusively under exceptional circumstances, while in practice, the concept of exceptionality is interpreted individually by each police officer.
In fact, this statistics is found to be relatively acceptable by the supervisory police authorities, since the general objective of the criminal justice system is to bring the culprit to liability, not to kill him or her instantaneously. In some cases, lawyers of the demised alleged criminals managed to stipulate the fact that their dead clients were innocent; therefore, the activity of the police was completely inconsistent with provisions of the criminal law.
In the light of the above stipulated findings, it is reasonable to recapitulate the fact that in order to perfect police pursuits, the lives of escaping criminals should be taken into consideration, alongside with the lives and well-being of the ordinary citizens and members of the police crews.
Balance of fatalities conclusion
With regard to the fatality ratio, it becomes evident that the most detrimental impact is inflicted on the civil population, since approximately 65% of all the victims are civilians, who died as a result of reckless police driving or that of the escaping offenders caused by the police persecution. These findings are absolutely unacceptable, although they are compatible with the general objectives of the criminal justice system of the United States.
The scholars are vigorously debating on whether this kind of policy is completely consistent with constitutional pillars of the United States of America. The crucial aspect of the political agenda in this regard is the priority of significance. In other words, the academic community is perplexed with the question of what is more crucial , preserving the fundamental tenets of the criminal justice system intact or safeguarding the life of the average American citizen, while leaving the alleged offender with impunity.
The most reasonable opinion in this regard has been offered by the Republican party of the USA, which expressed the statements, in which they considered that both goals are of equal importance. Specifically, an alleged criminal can be set at large, but in the long run, he or she can commit another murder, taking the life of the good American citizen. Therefore, in order to carry out the pivotal objectives simultaneously, it is highly recommended to improve the current methodology of police pursuits, prioritizing the defense of ordinary people, while improving the death statistics among the killed police officers and escaping alleged criminals.
Part II Police Pursuits and Legal Aspect
However, despite the size of the death toll connected with the practice of improper police pursuits, the financial line should not be disregarded. The biggest indemnifications paid out by the United States Department of Justice are connected with the cover of medication bills charged from the victims of improper police pursuits and the damage reimbursement because of the moral or physical harm suffered by those citizens.
In May, 2012, one of the biggest indemnifications was paid by the Herkimer village Police Department. Totally, $2 million have been paid to the relatives of the dead men, who died as a result of the physical harm inflicted to him because of the crush with the police car, which pursued the alleged culprits. The police officers received respective prison sentences because of this improper fulfillment of their professional obligations, while the criminals managed to escape.
Legally, the process of claim initiation is very complex and involves the analysis of multiple aspects. First and foremost, it is necessary to consider how the legal theories and particular statutory provisions dealing with the issue of liability will be interpreted in any particular jurisdiction. In fact, in the state of Texas, the judges are more favorable to the police, while in Alabama the suffered pedestrians and damaged bystanders are more likely to win the lawsuit.
Secondly, the jurors are known to be extremely biased in the paper of the police. Therefore, lawyers should elaborate eloquent sophistry with the intent to curb this prejudiced attitude of the deciders. Finally, the New York City bar recommends that specific actions should be taken in order to manage risks before and after a lawsuit is filled.
The rise of civil litigation
It is a particular necessity to emphasize the fact that the number of civil litigation cases dealing with police pursuits is dramatically rising. For every 100 fatalities and 21,000 injury cases emanated from police pursuits, 97% are culminated with legal proceedings started by the injured parties or the relatives of the injured party in the event of premature demise caused by the police reckless driving , the use of firearms or other causes of death (James, 2004).
On the statutory level, the emergency auto mobile driving is carefully controlled. The basis of these regulations is the uniform vehicle code adopted by the United States Department of Justice. The legal foundation for all the lawsuits arising from this practice is the so-called concept of due regard to the safety of all persons involved in the traffic, and this rule is applicable not only to average drivers, but police officers pursuing a criminal, as well.
As far as the basis for liability is concerned, a reckless disregard for the safety of others is classified as a legal definition thereof. Over the axis of these two provisions, the concept of liability is constantly revolving. In other words, when the trial commences, the jury is asked to conclude on whether a typical officer exercised his or her due regard obligation and whether his or her driving can be classified as reckless. Besides, the jury is requested to analyze the peculiarities of the very case at hand, such as climatic conditions, the danger posed by escaping criminals, the use of firearms by them and other issues.
Another cornerstone of this practice is the concept of foreseeability. In other words, jurors are commonly expected to figure out whether potential dangers and risks of the particular pursuit were foreseeable for police officers. The attorney for the police, in his or her turn, must demonstrate that his or her clients could not foresee the negative repercussions, which eventually took place, while the team of the claimant must demonstrate that police officers deliberately neglected their constitutional duty to consider all the aspects of the pursuit and that the risk assumed by them was intentional.
70% of the entire indemnification sums paid to the victims is attributed to the medical costs suffered by them. Averagely, the injury treatment of each individual victim costs $100,000 annually. The aggregate amount of medication costs paid by the United States budget to the victims of the reckless police driving amounted to $152 billion during the 2010- 2011 financial year, as declared by the United States Department of Justice.
In this regard, it should be contextualized that these amounts considerably exceed the costs of inmate maintenance. Financially, it is highly recommended to reconsider current strategies of police pursuits employed by police officers, since they bear immense danger to the civil population of the United States of America, who is traditionally known for their propensity to litigation against the government authorities.
It is very important to highlight the fact that it is impossible to dispense with the medication bills; therefore, the number of fatality cases and injury cases should be reduced at all costs. Another option available is contracting the insurance companies. In any case, the annual royalty paid to them will not exceed the costs of medication paid out by the Department of Justice; therefore, this option is the most indispensably considered.
Discussion and Analysis
Having analyzed the cornerstone points of this paper, several inferential conclusions can be made. First and foremost, it is practically impossible to get rid of police pursuits completely. Under any scenarios, criminals take any reasonable attempts to escape justice and avert negative repercussions of the detainment, which are imminent to them, trying to flee from the chasing police officers. Therefore, the option to convince them not to do so is not available.
Consequently, in order to remove the jeopardy endangering the well-being of the ordinary citizens, police officers must act reasonably, evaluating all the peculiarities of the particular individual case. Thus, the most viable condition is not to pursue criminals in highly congested areas for petty crimes, including shoplifting, not aggravated robberies or other insignificant criminal misdeeds.
On the other hand, the gravity of serious crimes conditions the necessity of pursuits. In these instances, the scrutiny and carefulness should be demonstrated by police departments to ensure the absolute compatibility with existing legal prescriptions.
The situation must be meticulously analyzed; the proximity of schools or high congestion of people must be taken into consideration, as well as machinery requirements of police cars. In case a police officer reaches the decision that the initiation of a pursuit does not endanger the well-being and security of his or her fellow citizens, he or she may commence. Otherwise, the escaping culprits should be set at large.
The analysis of casualties ratio precisely suggests that currently, the most vulnerable group of victims are the ordinary citizens, pedestrians and bystanders of the United States community, since they represent 65% of the entire casualty list.
Moreover, the medication bills paid out by the United States Department of Justice are extremely high, which poses an additional burden for the United States national treasury. Considering the fact that during the upcoming years, it is practically impossible to reduce this burden, it is highly recommended to sign a contract with insurance companies and shift the responsibility to them.
As far as the most viable strategies are concerned, the training and technological modernization remain the aspect of high priority. Although these issues are indispensably associated with high costs and public expenditures, it is necessary to highlight the fact that in the light of the upscale medication and moral harm indemnification bills paid by the United States Department of Justice, the financial resources necessitated for the implementation of the schemes are relatively small. The calculations provided by the United States Department of Justice suggest that approximately $100 million are needed for their practical implementation, while the benefits of schemes would be enormous in terms of the community.
First and foremost, training of the personnel remains the key aspect. Emergency driving courses should be conducted on a regular basis, desirably two times annually, while police departments, which are mostly involved in pursuits, should be specifically targeted.
Statistically, in the state of New York, police pursuits are 17% more common than in the state of Alabama; therefore, the training of police personnel in New York should be more intense and diligent. A specific focus during the training should be placed on the observational capabilities of police crews, who must identify pedestrians and bystanders in a timely manner and skillfully circumvent them.
With regard to the technological aspect, the use of retractable spike barrier strip is recommended. Currently, the device is not employed by the United States law enforcement authorities, while its efficiency has been proven by the number of experimental studies conducted by the United States research universities. Moreover, the disputable alto arrestor system is an electric technology that permits the immediate stop of the running vehicle of escaping criminals. A possible use of this technology should be carefully studied and analyzed, since the dispatch of electronic impulse to the engine of escaping car can immediately eradicate all the possible negative consequences discussed in this paper.
Having summarized the main findings of this paper, several inferential conclusions are to be made.
- First and foremost, police pursuits are often associated with high rates of mortality among the civilian population and escaping criminals, while victims among the ranks of police groups remain minimal. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that the interests of the police are prioritized, while privileges and rights of the United States citizens and escaping criminals are routinely disregarded by chasing police crews.
- Secondly, it is necessary to recapitulate that the problem has been recognized on the government level, since multiple reports have been published by the United States Department of Justice, the administration of the President by the number of nongovernmental organizations, who are seriously interested in the research of this phenomenon. The very fact that the problem is perceived is sufficient to assume that specific actions should be initiated by the United States government in the forthcoming future to eradicate the negative statistics associated with the problem.
- Thirdly, however awful the moral side of the problem may seem to be, the financial outcome of the problem is really terrible, since abundant indemnifications operate on the annual basis by the United States Department of Justice to the victims of car crashes and the family members of the demised people.
However, the analyzed literature precisely suggests that viable remedies to remove the negative side of the problem really exist. Provided that specific strategies of the training and technological modernization of police facilities are properly conducted, it is reasonable to assume that the financial negative outcome, as well as the casualty list will be significantly diminished in the upcoming future.