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Date: Revision : Reviewe d:

Number: GEN 511.01

12/14/9 3 09/19/ 11 08/29/ 11

Page:

1 of 9

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE DAVID GEE, SHERIFF

STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE SUBJECT:

VEHICLE PURSUIT OPERATION

I.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this standard operating procedure is to define guidelines for the safe operation of agency vehicles when engaged in pursuit operation regardless of nature or speed.

II.

SCOPE: This shall apply to all agency personnel engaged in a vehicular/motorized vehicle pursuit while operating agency vehicles.

III.

DISCUSSION: It is the duty and responsibility of every law enforcement officer to enforce the laws of the state of Florida and apprehend persons in violation of these laws. The operation of agency vehicles during a vehicular pursuit is an area of concern to both law enforcement and civilian personnel. It is imperative that guidelines be established which will assist in the safe and effective operation of agency vehicles when engaged in vehicular pursuits. The initiation of a motor vehicle pursuit in furtherance of a recognized law enforcement duty is permitted under the circumstances described below. However, in instances where immediate apprehension cannot be effected with reasonable safety and the inherent risk to the public outweighs the necessity of immediate apprehension, the pursuit will not be initiated or continued.

IV.

DEFINITIONS: A.

Agency vehicle - Any vehicle owned or leased by the agency.

B.

Apprehension of law violators in a motor vehicle - An active attempt by a law enforcement officer in an authorized emergency vehicle to apprehend the occupants of a moving vehicle.


C.

Vehicle pursuit - An active attempt by a law enforcement officer in an authorized pursuit vehicle to apprehend the occupants of a moving vehicle, providing that the driver of such vehicle is or should be aware of the attempt, increases his/her speed, takes other evasive action(s), or refuses to stop in an attempt to avoid apprehension. This definition is applicable regardless of the distance, speed, duration or number of agency vehicles involved in the pursuit, and whether or not an apprehension is made. If a law enforcement officer attempts to perform a traffic stop and the vehicle in question flees, it is not considered a pursuit if the law enforcement officer immediately deactivates the agency vehicle’s emergency equipment and changes course of direction and notifies Communications of their actions.

D.

Primary pursuit unit - Generally, the law enforcement unit which initiates the pursuit. If the initiating vehicle is not a marked car with emergency equipment, the primary unit status shall, when possible, be assumed by a marked car with emergency equipment.


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V.

E.

Secondary pursuit unit(s) - The law enforcement unit which trails the primary pursuit unit at a safe distance and which is available to assume the primary role or assist the primary unit.

F.

Emergency equipment - Siren and flashing and/or revolving blue/red lights which meet the requirements of Florida Statutes.

G.

Marked vehicle - a vehicle which has agency markings and all emergency equipment with or without overhead light bar.

H.

Low profile vehicle - a vehicle which has agency markings and all emergency equipment except an overhead light bar.

I.

Unmarked vehicle - a vehicle which has no agency markings and all emergency equipment with or without overhead light bar.

J.

Covert vehicle - an unmarked agency vehicle which is not equipped with emergency equipment.

VEHICLE PURSUITS: A.

Authorized Pursuit Vehicles: 1. 2. 3.

VI.

Marked patrol vehicles are authorized as primary pursuit vehicles. Unmarked agency vehicles may engage in pursuits until a marked vehicle can take over as the primary vehicle. All other vehicles, such as motorcycles, special purpose vehicles, patrol wagons, identification vans, and vehicles not equipped with emergency equipment, shall not become involved in pursuits.

B.

An agency vehicle engaged in pursuit operations shall utilize both emergency lights and siren.

C.

Law enforcement personnel, when accompanied by non-sworn passengers, shall only engage in pursuits when they are the primary unit and have initiated the pursuit. As other units actively engage in the pursuit, they are to relinquish primary unit status and disengage from the pursuit (unless given specific authorization by a supervisor to continue). Nonsworn passengers include victims, witnesses, citizen riders, interns, ridealong program participants, prisoners, authorized family members or other non-law enforcement persons.

PROCEDURE:

A.

Initiation: 1.

Pursuits may be initiated: a.

when the officer reasonably believes someone in the pursued vehicle has committed or attempted to commit any forcible felony as defined in Florida Statutes Section


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776.08, to include any felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual and any burglary of a structure or conveyance whether or not the structure or conveyance is occupied at the time of the crime and/or


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b.

when substantial evidence indicates the vehicle has been involved in and left the scene of a traffic crash involving death or serious bodily injury. If suspect information is known or the resulting injuries are determined less severe than initially reported, a pursuit shall not be initiated or shall be discontinued if in progress. Note: Exceptions to this provision shall include physical breaches to security checkpoints within the Port of Tampa, Tampa International Airport, or other statutorily defined locations with restricted or secured restricted access as determined by the Sheriff.

2.

Prior to initiating a pursuit, factors to be considered include, but are not limited to: a. b. c. d. e. f. g.

speed road conditions identity (known) and actions of suspect weather pedestrian volume time of day special circumstances: (1) (2)

3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

B.

active school zone driving against oncoming traffic

Pursuits shall not be initiated for civil traffic infractions only. In any event, pursuits shall not continue past the point in time when the danger to the public or law enforcement personnel outweighs the need to immediately apprehend the suspect. All communications related to pursuits will be via voice, not MCT. All units involved in the pursuit will advise status (i.e. primary secondary, parallel, etc.). Any unit involved in the pursuit equipped with on-board video equipment will activate the equipment (video and audio) for the entire incident and document same in the pursuit form.

Conduct of a Pursuit: 1.

2.

The decision of continuing a pursuit in which the fleeing vehicle refuses to stop will be evaluated continuously by the pursuing law enforcement officer, the shift commander, and/or patrol supervisor. This evaluation will include, but not be limited to, factors considered prior to initiating a pursuit. Upon initiation of a pursuit, only the initiating police vehicle (the primary vehicle) and two back-up vehicles (secondary vehicles) will normally be necessary. The number of units involved may be adjusted, with supervisory approval, to fit the situation. However,


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3.

circumstances such as preparation for implementation of a pursuit termination technique (i.e. P.I.T. or rolling roadblock) may justify the involvement of more law enforcement vehicles. Units in the general area of the pursuit shall remain in their assigned area unless requested to participate in the pursuit. Each unit that takes any action relative to a pursuit (blocking intersections, paralleling, assisting, preparing to activate tire-deflating devices, any type of aid in capturing the


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4.

suspect vehicle, or assistance in clearing streets and/or intersections of other innocent traffic, etc.) will be considered as involved and must notify radio via voice. Aviation Participation: a.

If aviation responds to assist, identifies the pursued vehicle, and maintains continuous observation, ground units shall (if circumstances allow) minimize line of sight of the pursued vehicle by reducing vehicle speed while continuing the pursuit. Note: An exception to minimizing line of sight would be appropriate in cases where suspects in the fleeing vehicle are known to be armed or immediate apprehension is especially necessary.

b.

If aviation services are employed, after identifying the pursued vehicle, the aviation unit shall: (1) (2) (3)

continue the pursuit, assume the communication responsibility of the primary law enforcement officer, and coordinate the pursuit (which includes advising ground units and supervisors direction of travel, conditions, and/or potential hazards ahead of the pursuit).

Note: Aviation intelligence shall greatly influence a supervisor’s determination as to the continuation of a pursuit. 5.

Intervention Tactics: a.

Pursuit prevention techniques: (1)

(2)

Tactical observation - an unmarked vehicle (not employing emergency lights and siren) and/or aviation can be used to observe vehicles prior to a pursuit being initiated. Suspect vehicles can be observed from a distance. Vehicle Intercept - the act of utilizing law enforcement vehicles to block the path of travel of a stationary vehicle or a vehicle coming to a stop. Vehicle intercept is also referred to as vehicle traps or boxing. The utilization of vehicle intercept is a specific technical maneuver which requires training prior to use. Covert vehicles or vehicles without emergency equipment should not be used to perform the Vehicle Intercept Procedure except in exigent circumstances.


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b.

Pursuit termination techniques: (1)

Rolling roadblock - the intentional act of using law enforcement vehicles to physically force a suspect vehicle to slow to a stop and then prevent the driver from exiting the driver’s door. The rolling roadblock is a specific technical maneuver which requires training prior to use. Covert vehicles or vehicles without emergency equipment


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(2)

(3)

(4)

6.

should not be used to perform the rolling roadblock except in exigent circumstances. Stationary roadblock - the intentional act of utilizing a barricade or obstruction across a roadway or path of travel of a suspect vehicle. This technique is generally considered deadly force and requires supervisory approval to implement. Precision Immobilization Technique (P.I.T.) - the intentional act of utilizing a law enforcement vehicle to physically alter a suspect vehicle’s path of travel in order to stop it. The P.I.T. is a specific technical maneuver which requires training prior to use. The utilization of the P.I.T. maneuver requires law enforcement personnel have justification (forcible felony) to pursue the suspect vehicle. Covert vehicles or vehicles without emergency equipment should not be used to perform the Precision Immobilization Technique except in exigent circumstances. Stinger/Stop sticks - are commonly known tire deflation devices that contain hollow spikes. Upon deployment, the spikes are introduced into the tire, causing deflation and reduction of speeds. The utilization of a tire deflation device requires training prior to use.

Firearms - law enforcement personnel shall not discharge firearms at a moving vehicle or shoot a firearm from a moving vehicle unless the use of deadly force is justified under state law, agency policies and procedures, and is consistent with providing due care for the safety of the public.

Note: Pursuing law enforcement personnel shall retain the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons and shall be responsible for the consequences of any reckless disregard for the safety of others. A determination to continue or terminate a pursuit should be based on the totality of the circumstances as they occur and, if appropriate, as the pursuit continues. C.

Communication: 1.

*

Upon initiation of the pursuit, law enforcement personnel shall: a.

b.

ensure all radio communications take place on the main district radio channel where the pursuit is initiated in, regardless of the radio channel the pursuing deputy primarily utilizes. Any pursuit initiated on an alternate channel (SES, CID, SID channels, etc‌) must immediately be switched to the main channel where the pursuit is occurring. notify the communications dispatcher of the pursuit by stating


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“I am in pursuit� (or words to that effect), c. provide the location, direction, approximate speed of travel, and environmental conditions, d. advise the vehicle description, the age and description of occupants (if known), e. state the known or believed law violation or reason for the pursuit, f. provide continuous information of the pursuit, including (among other things) location, speed, and direction of travel,


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g. h. i.

*

j. 2.

Dispatch responsibilities: a. b. c.

* 3.

provide any other information that could aid in identification, apprehension, or determination to either continue or terminate the pursuit, request assistance from aviation via radio, and have the secondary unit take over the radio transmission at the time the unit becomes involved in the pursuit. The secondary unit will relay appropriate information to dispatch and other units. If aviation services are employed and identify the pursued vehicle, the aviation unit shall assume the communication responsibility of the primary law enforcement officer. under no circumstances will pursuits be conducted via email, text messaging or any other form of electronic device.

Upon initiation of the pursuit, the shift commander and the supervisor in closest area of the pursuit shall be notified of the pursuit and the involved units. Transmissions shall not be repeated unnecessarily. Dispatchers shall patch radio communications between adjoining districts and jurisdictions.

Law enforcement supervisory responsibilities: a. b. c.

Upon initiation of a pursuit, affected supervisor(s) will acknowledge and monitor the pursuit, making appropriate decisions as necessary. Supervisors involved in or witnessing a pursuit will advise dispatch of status. Overall responsibility for the discretionary decisions concerning the continuance or discontinuance of a pursuit rests primarily with the shift commander or patrol supervisor.

Note: All supervisors monitoring the pursuit will have a responsibility in the initiation, continuation, and termination of the pursuit. D.

Inter-jurisdictional Pursuits: 1.

Pursuit initiated by own agency: a.

Notify the jurisdiction being approached of the pursuit. Relay pursuit-related information to include: (1) (2)

Charges Description of: (a) (b)

vehicle suspect


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b.

If an arrest is affected outside of Hillsborough County, the arrestee(s) shall be held at the scene until law enforcement members of the agency who has jurisdiction where the arrest occurred arrive to make the formal arrest. The arrestee(s) shall not be returned to Hillsborough County until formal procedures have been carried out.


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2.

Pu uit initiated by other rs agency: Participation: a . Participation in another agency’s pursuit is allowed if specifically authorized by a field supervisor. Additionally, participation is allowed if: (1) (2)

it is clearly demonstrated the pursuing unit is unable to ask for assistance, or the emergency circumstances dictate the need for assistance.

In these circumstances, agency pursuit policies are in effect for units that participate in another agency’s pursuit. b .

Assistance: (1) (2)

E.

Termination of Pursuit: 1. 2. 3.

The pursuit may be terminated by the primary unit at any time. Ultimate responsibility regarding continuance or termination of a pursuit rests with the supervisor. A termination order: a. b. c.

may be given by a supervisor at any time, includes air service participation as well as vehicle units, and requires all involved units to: (1) (2) (3)

4. 5. F.

Assistance in apprehending suspects in another agency’s pursuit will be rendered if it does not actively involve engaging in the pursuit. When a pursuit initiated by another jurisdiction terminates in Hillsborough County, law enforcement officers who work within Hillsborough County may respond to the apprehension scene to assist and transport the arrestee(s) to jail.

acknowledge the termination via radio, deactivate emergency equipment and drive their vehicle in a direction away from the vehicle being pursued.

The supervisor or shift commander will respond to the termination point of all pursuits. The supervisor will meet with all involved law enforcement personnel.

After-action and Reporting: 1.

Precision Immobilization Technique (P.I.T.) - Immediately after a P.I.T. maneuver is performed: a.

other vehicles (i.e., law enforcement or rescue vehicles) should avoid driving over scuff or yaw marks from involved vehicles, and


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b.

2.

the scene of initial P.I.T. contact, the path both vehicles followed during the P.I.T., and the final resting place of both vehicles should be preserved.

Incident and supplemental reports: a. b.

Personnel involved in the pursuit shall complete an incident report or supplement, as appropriate. If a PIT maneuver was attempted or performed, (1)

A Traffic Crash Investigator shall complete a supplement to the incident report and diagram (non-crash): (a) (b)

if no injuries occurred or if the vehicle (upon which the PIT was performed) post-PIT maneuver comes in contact with anything other than a pedestrian/cyclist.

OR

(2)

A Traffic Homicide Detective shall complete: (a) (b)

3.

a supplement to the incident report and diagram (non-crash) if injuries other to a pedestrian/cyclist occurred or a crash report if injuries to a pedestrian/cyclist occurred.

Additional documentation and after-action: a.

Supervisor responsibilities: (1)

(2)

The supervisor of the primary pursuing deputy shall immediately respond to the termination point of the pursuit. The supervisor shall be responsible for controlling the scene and ensuring adherence to Sheriff's Office policies. The supervisor will be responsible for completing: (a) (b)

A Vehicle Pursuit (via BlueTeam). If a PIT maneuver was attempted or performed, the responding supervisor must also complete: 1) 2)

(c)

a Use of Force Report (via BlueTeam) and a Vehicle Accident Report (via BlueTeam)

When a stop stick device has been used in a "hit" involving the suspect vehicle, a sergeant or corporal shall complete a Stop Stick Pursuit Form and fax the form to Stop Stick, Ltd. at (812) 5371011. The fax will serve to expedite the shipment of the replacement Stop Stick(s) to the Sheriff's Office.


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b.

Stop Stick usage - damaged or used Stop Stick(s) and a copy of the completed Stop Stick Pursuit Form shall be transported to Warehouse Supply, located behind the Orient Road Jail.


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c.

Vehicle Pursuit Report: (1)

(2)

(3) (4)

(5) shall:

The supervisor will be responsible for completing the Vehicle Pursuit Report (via BlueTeam). Any violations of policy or procedure shall be documented and brought to the District Commander's attention. Within forty-eight (48) hours, or as soon as immediately practical thereafter, a critique of the pursuit shall be held with the following persons in attendance: District Commander, Assistant District Commander, Shift Lieutenant, supervisor of the primary pursuing deputy, and the pursuing deputy. Any substitutions or additions of personnel in attendance shall be at the discretion of the District Commander. The District Commander shall ensure the “comments� portion of the Vehicle Pursuit Report is appropriately completed. Law enforcement Districts/Divisions shall forward the completed Vehicle Pursuit Report and a copy of the incident report to the appropriate Department Commander. Photographs taken at the conclusion of a pursuit deemed evidentiary in nature shall be placed into evidence. Photographs shall not be attached to or sent with the incident report. Digital photographs may be attached to the Vehicle Pursuit Report (via BlueTeam). The Department Commander (or his/her designee) a)

send a copy of the Vehicle Pursuit Report (cc function via BlueTeam) and a copy of the incident report to the Training Division, and b) forward the Vehicle Pursuit Report to Professional Standards.

*

(6)

(7)

The Training Division will prepare an analytical annual report for training needs. A copy of this report shall be forwarded to the Department of Operational Support Commander and the Department of Patrol Services Commander. The Professional Standards Section shall prepare an annual statistical report which shall be forwarded to the Sheriff.


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David Gee Sheriff Amends or Supersedes: SO 9502.03, SO 9703.14, SO 9706.28, SO 0106.15, SO 0107.22, SO 0310.25, SO 0412.57, SO 0501.08; SO 0811.41, SO 1109.20


Hillsborough Sheriff's pursuit policy