Pinellas Park Police Department VEHICLE PURSUITS Subject:
2203 Version 5
2-6-2008 Authority of:
Chief Dorene Thomas Distribution and Scope:
STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE
This policy applies to all members of the agency.
CONTENTS: 2203.01 2203.02 2203.03 2203.04 2203.05 2203.06 2203.07 2203.08 2203.09 2203.10 2203.11 2203.12
Initiating A Pursuit Tactics Responsibilities of the Primary Unit Responsibilities of the Secondary Unit Supervisor's Responsibilities Dispatcher Responsibility Aviation Support Termination of the Pursuit Reporting Information Inter-jurisdictional Pursuits Legal character and intent Road Blocks
POLICY It shall be the policy of the Pinellas Park Police Department to strictly regulate the manner a vehicular pursuit is undertaken and performed. Motor vehicle pursuits are permissible only when prescribed conditions are met. A motor vehicle pursuit shall be discontinued immediately once it becomes apparent that it is no longer justified or no longer meets the criteria to continue under this policy. DISCUSSION A. The primary mission of law enforcement is to protect lives, property and maintain security for citizens. Within this goal, it is important to establish procedures to be followed before police officers become involved in vehicular pursuits. B. Once the driver refuses to obey or fails to comply with a police officer's order to stop, the pursuit policy and procedures will apply. A pursuit will terminate when all police units having direct engagement with the violator have (1) turned off all emergency equipment, and (2) resumed normal driving. C. The fact that an officer is engaged in a pursuit does not relieve nor protect an officer from the consequences of the reckless disregard for the safety of others. Every precaution must be taken to protect other motorists and pedestrians because a pursuit driver, if involved in a collision, may be subject to criminal indictment or civil damages for injuries inflicted. FSS 316.072(5) "Obedience to and effect of traffic laws", grants authority to emergency vehicles to disregard traffic controls, when in the pursuit of an actual or SOP 2203.Vehicle Pursuits.V5. (LR 8/2013)
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Pinellas Park Police Department VEHICLE PURSUITS suspected law violator provided the operator does not endanger life or property. The statute specifically makes clear that the driver of the emergency vehicle is not protected from the consequences of reckless disregard for the safety of others. DEFINITIONS Authorized Police Pursuit Vehicles – marked police patrol automobiles equipped with emergency lighting and siren; unmarked supervisory automobiles equipped with emergency lighting and siren; unmarked police patrol automobiles assigned to the traffic unit equipped with emergency lighting and siren. Authorized Plan – The plan to be used to end the pursuit as safely and soon as practical. Plans must incorporate an approved termination tactic, or the plan may provide for aviation assistance where ground units pursue until an air unit can engage, allowing ground units to back off. Boxing-in / Curbing – In the course of a pursuit, a termination tactic by two or more patrol vehicles to force a pursued vehicle in a specific direction, or to force the pursued vehicle to stop or reduce speed accomplished by the maneuvering into place, while moving, patrol vehicles in front of, behind, or beside the fleeing vehicle. Officers may utilize a curb or parallel barrier to restrict the movement of the violator on one or both sides of the vehicle. Officers perform a controlled deceleration as a group, forcing the violator to stop with the intent of ‘no-contact’ between any of the vehicles. This tactic is similar to a moving roadblock but is conducted at low speeds, generally 45 mph or less. Higher speeds increase the risk of danger and injury if vehicles inadvertently collide or the violator chooses to ram a police vehicle. Caravanning – In the course of a pursuit, the following and direct participation in a pursuit by unauthorized police vehicles. Corralling – A termination tactic where close pursuit and support units maneuver their vehicles in a coordinated effort to direct the violator into an area where the operating ability of the violator is restricted. The area could be a dead end road, parking lot with barriers, vacant lot surrounded by brush, etc. Once the violator has been restricted, other tactics may be employed to affect an apprehension. Deadly Force Situation – A situation where an officer has probable cause to believe a suspect has inflicted or threatened to inflict serious physical harm to another person; and, the suspect is engaged in an attempt to escape apprehension by law enforcement officers; and, the immediate capture of the suspect is crucial because the suspect poses a threat of death or serious physical harm to an officer or others. Divided Highway – any roadway striped for three or more traffic lanes or contains a median divide. Disabling Action – Any tactic where a close pursuit or support unit or officer uses an object (other than an approved vehicle immobilization device) or method (other than an approved termination tactic) to stop or disable a vehicle. This includes shooting at or into a vehicle or forcing a vehicle into an object. Any disabling action other than approved termination tactics shall only be used when the use of deadly force would be justified. Fleeing and Eluding Violation – A motorist having knowledge that he/she has been ordered to stop their vehicle by an authorized law enforcement officer and willfully refuses or fails to stop the vehicle in compliance with that order. (FSS 316.1935) Non-Hazardous Driving – A motorist driving in an area where there are no or very few other motorists or pedestrians present and the motorist is avoiding any other motorists or pedestrians nearby, and the motorist is traveling within prescribed speed limits and not violating traffic control devices. SOP 2203.Vehicle Pursuits.V5. (LR 8/2013)
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Pinellas Park Police Department VEHICLE PURSUITS Paralleling – A maneuver by one or more patrol vehicles to drive alongside the pursued vehicle while it is in motion or the following of a pursuit in progress by driving on roads and streets that parallel the road or street on which the fleeing vehicle and pursuing police vehicles are traveling. Precision Immobilization Technique (PIT) - a termination tactic conducted at low speed where an officer bumps a fleeing vehicle in the rear quarter panel causing the vehicle to spin, ultimately having a disabling effect. This tactic is performed at low speeds of 35 mph or less. Primary Unit – The unit initiating the pursuit or the unit closest to the fleeing vehicle during the pursuit. Pursuit (Vehicle) – For the purposes of this directive, a motor vehicle pursuit is defined to occur when an officer has signaled a motorist to stop by use of emergency lights and siren, and the officer reasonably believes the motorist is aware of the officer’s presence and intent to have him/her stopped, and the motorist attempts to evade the officer by increasing speed or by taking evasive action, and the officer reasonably believes the driver is refusing to obey the officer’s orders to stop. Ramming – A deliberate offensive act by a driver of a vehicle to forcibly strike another vehicle in an attempt to stop or disable the other vehicle. Reckless Driving – Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property (FSS 316.192). Roadblock – Any method, restriction (including a partial restriction), or obstruction used or intended for the purpose of preventing free passage of motor vehicles on a highway in order to effect the apprehension of an actual or suspected law violator in a motor vehicle, including a rolling roadblock. Rolling or Moving Roadblock – A police vehicle moving in the same direction but in front of and deliberately slowing or attempting to slow the violator by use of the police vehicle. Contact between vehicles is highly probable. Deployment will be one unit to the front of the subject vehicle, one to the rear, and one to the side and slightly to the rear of the subject vehicle. The lead unit will slow his speed while the other police units maintain their relative positions. Upon stopping the subject vehicle, the officers will utilize high risk traffic stop procedures. Moving road blocks will only be used with supervisory approval and where the safety of the public is not unduly jeopardized. Secondary Unit – Any unit participating in the pursuit close behind the primary unit. Serious Physical Harm – Harm or injury that involves severe tissue damage, major broken bones, major disfigurement or permanent paralysis. Stop Sticks - The “Stop Stick” vehicle immobilization device is a means of slowing or terminating pursuits, preventing a stationary vehicle from fleeing, and/or preventing the continued driving of a person who poses an endangerment to the public. The vehicle immobilization device is designed to puncture vehicle tires through the use of sleeved spikes causing rapid deflation of the tire(s). Trained agency members may deploy the device into the path of a vehicle, or placed forward or behind the tire(s) of a stationary vehicle. Use of the “Stop Stick” is not considered use of deadly force (SOP 2202). Supervisor – For the purposes of this policy, “supervisor” refers to any sworn member of the rank of Sergeant or above, or a police officer acting in the capacity of a shift or section supervisor. Termination Tactics – Tactics that are approved by the Pinellas Park Police Department to facilitate the apprehension of a fleeing suspect in a motor vehicle when the pursuit of a vehicle is SOP 2203.Vehicle Pursuits.V5. (LR 8/2013)
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Pinellas Park Police Department VEHICLE PURSUITS justified but the use of deadly force is not. These tactics include aviation support, the precision immobilization technique (PIT), deployment of STOP sticks, corralling, and boxing-in/curbing. Other tactics they may be deployed when deadly force is justified are ramming, rolling or moving roadblock, and other disabling actions. Traffic Checkpoints – A controlled restriction of motor vehicle traffic at a particular point of a roadway. Traffic will be channeled into one lane by placing traffic cones at a safe approach distance. Drivers to be cited will be removed from the traffic flow for appropriate enforcement action. Unauthorized Police Pursuit Vehicles – Police vehicles not equipped with both emergency lighting and siren; police motorcycles; unmarked, non-supervisory police vehicles not assigned to the traffic unit; personally owned vehicles. Violent Criminal Behavior – For the context of this policy, behavior constituting a violent felony crime where the suspect caused or was likely to cause serious physical harm or death to an officer or another person. Violent Felony Crime – For the context of this policy, violent felony crimes are identified as: Sexual Battery; Robbery; Kidnapping; Aggravated Child Abuse; Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult; Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; Murder; Manslaughter; Unlawful throwing, placing or discharging of a destructive device or bomb; Armed Burglary; Aggravated Battery; Aggravated Stalking; Home Invasion/robbery Carjacking. PROCEDURES 2203.01 Initiating A Pursuit A. If the actions of the driver constitute a fleeing and eluding violation, then an officer may pursue the vehicle provided: 1. The officer has probable cause to believe the violator poses an immediate or future threat of death or serious physical harm to the public or other person(s) due to recent violent criminal behavior or, 2. The driving behavior of the fleeing violator is non-hazardous to other motorists and citizens and the speed of the subject vehicle is no greater than 40 miles per hour and, 3. There is an authorized plan, knowledgeable to the primary unit and/or supervisor, to end the pursuit as soon as practical. (Pursuit Flowchart) SOP 2203.Vehicle Pursuits.V5. (LR 8/2013)
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Pinellas Park Police Department VEHICLE PURSUITS
B. The decision to pursue a vehicle must be made within the requirements defined in this policy. An officer's decision to initiate, continue or discontinue a pursuit may be overridden by a supervisor at any time. C. Officers must consider the crime for which the suspect is wanted, the need to immediately apprehend and the risk to the community created by the pursuit (area of the pursuit, environmental factors, traffic congestion and weather conditions). The officer must constantly consider the risks created by the pursuit as they change during a pursuit. D. Officers should not place themselves in a position of danger when approaching motor vehicles. Standing directly in front of or directly behind a vehicle that is moving is dangerous. E. Terminating a pursuit for safety reasons shall be considered a decision made in the interest of public safety. 2203.02 Tactics A. Emergency vehicles shall be driven in a safe manner and with due regard for the safety of all motorists. B. Only two non-supervisory police units shall have direct engagement with the fleeing vehicle during the pursuit: a primary unit and a secondary unit. A supervisory unit may also engage at their discretion. A supervisor and only a supervisor may authorize more than two units to have direct engagement in the pursuit. Multiple units may be needed to facilitate certain termination tactics or to address a situation of multiple fleeing vehicles. C. Officers operating motorcycles are prohibited from pursuing a fleeing motor vehicle or participating in an active pursuit, to include paralleling. D. Caravanning by field units is prohibited. E. Ramming or forcing a fleeing vehicle into a parked car, ditch or other obstacle shall be considered deadly force and employed only when the use of deadly force would be justified. F. Officers shall not pursue a suspect the wrong way on a divided highway and shall proceed with extreme caution when pursuing the wrong way on residential streets. G. Officers shall not employ a termination tactic they have not been trained to use unless a situation exists where the use of deadly force would be justified. H. The use of vehicle immobilization devices are allowed in accordance with the Pinellas Park Police standard operating procedure SOP-2202 â€œVehicle Immobilization Devicesâ€?. I.
Only police vehicles equipped with front and rear emergency flashing red/blue lights and a siren will be used as pursuit vehicles.
In the event of an equipment failure that could result in the unsafe operation of the patrol vehicle during a pursuit, the officer shall immediately discontinue participation in the pursuit and notify the communications center.
K. If it is evident the suspect vehicle will become disabled very soon because of visible smoke or fire, an effective deployment of a vehicle immobilization device, or parts of the vehicle are coming detached, close pursuit units may continue to follow as long as the probability of the suspect vehicle slowing to a stop is high. SOP 2203.Vehicle Pursuits.V5. (LR 8/2013)
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Pinellas Park Police Department VEHICLE PURSUITS
2203.03 Responsibilities of the Primary Unit A. The officer driving the primary unit shall notify the communication section that he or she is in pursuit. The primary unit shall provide dispatch the following information: 1. unit identification; 2. crime for which the suspect is being pursued; 3. suspect vehicle description, including license number; 4. location, direction, and speed of both vehicles; 5. description of the occupant(s) and if the suspect is known to the officer. B. The primary pursuit vehicle shall have all emergency equipment activated during the pursuit. C. If a supervisor communicates with the driver of a pursuit vehicle, the driver shall acknowledge the communication. D. The driver of the pursuit vehicle shall make sure that two-way radio communication has been established with either dispatch or a supervisor. The driver of the pursuit vehicle shall take any steps necessary to ensure clear reception of radio traffic. In the event of a radio failure, or radio reception is so poor that the primary officer cannot copy or understand radio traffic, the officer shall immediately terminate participation in the pursuit. 2203.04 Responsibilities of the Secondary Unit A. The driver of the secondary unit will remain at a safe distance behind the primary unit, but close enough to provide support and communication with dispatch when necessary. B. All secondary units shall have all emergency flashing lights activated during the pursuit. Sirens shall be on when appropriate (noting that the siren can interfere with clear radio communications). Sirens shall be used when crossing intersections against traffic control devices. C. A secondary unit shall not attempt to overtake or assume a primary position unless the primary unit drops out of position, or the movement or tactic is part of a termination tactic or authorized by a supervisor. 2203.05 Supervisor's Responsibilities A. The supervisor shall have control over the activities of the pursuit. Once the supervisor is notified that a pursuit is in progress, the supervisor shall take command and monitor the pursuit activities. B. The supervisor shall request critical information necessary to determine the following: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Whether the pursuit should be continued; Whether the units involved in the pursuit are sufficient; The status of aviation support; Whether neighboring jurisdictions have been notified of the pursuit and if their assistance is needed; A plan to safely terminate the pursuit.
SOP 2203.Vehicle Pursuits.V5. (LR 8/2013)
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Pinellas Park Police Department VEHICLE PURSUITS C. The supervisor will continue to direct the pursuit, approve or order alternative tactics and maintain control until the pursuit has been terminated. In the absence of adequate information from the primary or secondary unit, the supervisor may order the termination of the pursuit. D. The supervisor shall terminate the pursuit if, in the opinion of the supervisor, the pursuit is not warranted. E. Should the fleeing vehicle be stopped, the supervisor shall immediately respond to the location where a pursuit has ended to provide guidance and necessary supervision. 2203.06 Dispatcher Responsibility A. Upon being notified of a pursuit, the dispatcher will immediately notify the on-duty shift supervisor and seek critical information from the pursuing officers. B. The dispatcher will immediately hold all traffic on the channel using the emergency tone alert. C. The dispatcher will advise all units not involved in the pursuit to utilize a designated channel. Communications on this channel will be kept to a minimum. The pursuit will be conducted on the primary channel. D. The dispatcher shall contact the Sheriff's Office at the earliest opportunity to request aviation support. E. The dispatcher will advise a neighboring jurisdiction if we are pursuing into their jurisdiction. 2203.07 Aviation Support A. Once contact is made with aviation support and aviation support has the suspect in sight, ground pursuit shall disengage close pursuit tactics. B. Pursuing vehicles and supervisors shall monitor instructions from the aviation unit in order to determine which direction to maneuver or to set up and deploy apprehension or termination tactics. 2203.08 Termination of the Pursuit A. The driver of the primary unit and the supervisor shall continually evaluate the risks and likelihood of a successful apprehension of the suspect. The following elements shall be considered grounds for termination of pursuit: 1. The conditions of the pursuit become too risky for the safe continuation of the pursuit; 2. The supervisor orders it terminated; 3. If information is communicated that indicates the pursuit is out of policy; 4. Visual contact with the violator cannot be maintained; B. A pursuit will be considered terminated when the police units having direct engagement with the violator have turned off all emergency lighting and siren equipment and have resumed normal driving.
SOP 2203.Vehicle Pursuits.V5. (LR 8/2013)
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Pinellas Park Police Department VEHICLE PURSUITS C. Police units do not have to alter their direction of travel upon terminating a pursuit. Upon terminating a pursuit, police units shall not “follow” a vehicle outside of the Pinellas Park city limits. Police units terminating a pursuit outside of the Pinellas Park city limits shall immediately return to the City of Pinellas Park. 2203.09 Reporting Information A. All pursuits of a motor vehicle or incidents of a motor vehicle fleeing and eluding a police officer shall be documented on a written report. B. Information relevant to the pursuit shall be included on the report reference to the original crime for which the vehicle was being pursued. C. All officers directly involved in the pursuit shall write a supplemental report to the original offense report regarding the pursuit. D. Officers involved in a pursuit originating with another agency will complete an "Assist Outside Agency" report detailing their involvement with the pursuit. E. Officers attempting to stop a vehicle that flees and no pursuit is initiated shall document all relevant facts on an “MIR” titled “Fleeing and Eluding”. F. Officers initiating a pursuit shall complete a “Defensive Action Report” should the violator become injured at any point during the pursuit or subsequent arrest. G. Any officer who deploys stop sticks, whether they are struck or not, shall complete a “Defensive Action Report” documenting the deployment. H. Copies of all written reports will be forwarded to the Operations Division Commander via chain of command. The shift supervisor will ensure that the Operations Division Commander be notified as soon as practical after termination of pursuits involving damage to property, injuries to persons or death. F. Midnight shift pursuits not involving property damage, personal injury or death may be reported to the Operations Division Commander after 0800 hours, at the discretion of the shift supervisor. 2203.10 Inter-jurisdictional Pursuits A. Upon notification by another agency that they are pursuing a vehicle into Pinellas Park, the dispatcher shall ascertain the facts surrounding the pursuit and relay them to the shift supervisor. The shift supervisor will determine if any units will be assigned to assist. B. Pinellas Park police units shall not have direct engagement in pursuits originating in other jurisdictions. Pinellas Park units may render assistance by blocking intersections (for public safety reasons) or render assistance at the point of termination should it be in Pinellas Park. C. The shift supervisor shall have the authority to override the provisions of section B above in extreme circumstances. D. When a pursuit initiated by another agency, that has entered Pinellas Park, leaves the city, Pinellas Park units will immediately terminate their involvement in the pursuit, (unless otherwise approved by the shift supervisor), and will do so in a manner so as not to jeopardize themselves or any other units that may be involved in the pursuit.
SOP 2203.Vehicle Pursuits.V5. (LR 8/2013)
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Pinellas Park Police Department VEHICLE PURSUITS E. The primary police vehicle shall remain as the primary vehicle in other jurisdictions. All police officers leaving the City of Pinellas Park shall communicate their direction of travel and jurisdiction they are entering immediately to the communications center. 2203.11 Legal character and intent This pursuit/emergency driving procedure is for internal management assistance only and is not intended, nor shall it enlarge an officer's civil or criminal liability in any way. This procedure is not intended nor does it create a legal duty or higher standard of care or safety, with respect to claims against the City of Pinellas Park, the department, or any employee thereof, than the general laws of the State of Florida. This procedure shall not inure to the benefit of any third persons. Violations of this directive can only form the basis for non-judicial administrative action by this department. The directive shall be used in conjunction with all other relevant departmental policies, procedures and regulations. 2203.12 Road Blocks The use of a police vehicle for a roadblock is supported by department policy subject to the following restrictions: A. A vehicle may be used for a roadblock (stationary or moving) only when a deadly force situation is occurring. B. Road blocks may only be used upon the order of a supervisor. C. A traffic checkpoint is not defined as a roadblock for the purposes of this directive, however; authority to establish a traffic checkpoint shall be a sergeant or higher rank supervisor. D. The ranking supervisor at the scene of the roadblock shall be in charge and will determine staffing levels for the perimeter.
SOP 2203.Vehicle Pursuits.V5. (LR 8/2013)
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