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Exploring The Effectiveness And Dangers Of High Speed Police Pursuits

2895 words - 12 pages

It is common for Hollywood to glamorise high speed police chases, often depicted with police vehicles speeding through the streets with sirens blaring and the offender always being caught without incidence, however this depiction could not be further from the truth with police chases often having serious consequences and the outcome often far from ideal. It is due to these less than ideal outcomes that the media and public at large often call for the practice to be banned or for further regulations to be imposed. This essay will look at police pursuits, it will explore their effectiveness and why they are initiated. It will also be asked whether the practice is safe for all those involved, police, offenders and the public at large. In conclusion it will be asked whether there is a viable alternative to high speed police pursuits and whether the practice should be allowed to be continued. It is first worth looking at the way a pursuit is defined, ‘Pursuit may be defined as an active attempt by a law enforcement officer on duty in a patrol car to apprehend one or more occupants of a moving motor vehicle, providing the driver of such a vehicle is aware of the attempt and is resisting apprehension by maintaining or increasing his speed or by ignoring the law enforcement officer’s attempt to stop him’ (May & Headley, 2008).
This is a quote from a Royal Canadian Mounted Police training video from an officer involved in a death relating to a high speed police pursuit “let’s face it, you’re driving around a big bullet, and it can kill...To take human life over a $40000 vehicle? It’s wrong for him to be there, it’s wrong for him to be in the stolen vehicle, it was wrong for him not to stop when he was initially instructed to stop, but it cost him his life and it wasn’t worth it. We lost in the situation, everyone came out as losers. The members who were involved are all scarred for life, the family certainly has a significant loss in their life, the vehicle we were trying to save – that was a write-off, so what did we gain from it- nothing” (Hoffmann & Mazerolle, 2005). This quote highlights one of the main issues relating to high speed pursuits, whether any possible apprehension is worth the risk to everyone involved. Who are the offenders, what crimes have they committed and why were they chased are questions that need to be asked to gain an understanding of whether the risk the offender posed to the community was greater than what risk the actual pursuit itself caused. Two Australian reports researching police pursuits both concluded that the majority of offenders involved in pursuits were young males and one quarter to one third were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of apprehension (Hoffmann & Mazerolle, 2005) (ACT Department of Justice and Community Saftey, 2007), this is in line with criminology teachings stating young males are the most likely to participate in criminal or deviate behaviour (Siegel, 2008).
A recent Queensland...

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