Sunday, June 1, 2008

Reserve Judgement...

I began my law enforcement career as a reserve officer. That benefited me in many ways, but one way that came to my attention recently, stands out a bit more than others.

I have found that my time as a reserve let me get rid of the "I have to chase it" syndrome. A lot of coppers who only have a year or two on will chase anything they can. They'll chase cars for nothing more than a traffic infraction. They'll chase a guy on foot just because he wouldn't come get a ticket for jaywalking.

By the time I was hired full time, I had gotten that stuff out of my system. I have let kids run away from a ticket because I didn't feel like running across six lanes of traffic to catch them. It just wasn't worth my life for a lousy $40 fine. I'll get them next time, or else they won't make the same mistake again. Either way serves my purposes.

I don't feel the need to chase just any vehicle into the ground. If it's a guy who ran a stop sign, and I have no other reason to want him, I'll chase him until he does something stupid. As soon as he blows through a school zone at 60 miles per hour, I'm not afraid to terminate. It's not worth having him run a kindergartener down.

Now if it's something more serious, like say a murder suspect or a carjacking, all bets are off. I'll chase him until the wheels fall off... either mine or his.

I weigh the seriousness of the violation against the risk of apprehension, and my decision to continue the pursuit or terminate it is based upon that. Too many young officers don't think before they chase. Unfortunately, those are the pursuits that come back to bite us in the ass, and that's why our legislators try to prohibit pursuits in the first place.

To my fellow coppers, do us all a favor... think about what you are doing. I will not think less of you for terminating a pursuit.

5 comments:

Angie said...

good post. We are not allowed to pursue out of our jurisdiction. We have had quite a few officers hurt recently in chases.

Fire Fox said...

Most amazing to me is the "wrong way" driver who has to have stop sticks used to get him to finally stop. We hear the troopers chase someone at least 4-5 times a week on the midnight shift... usually ends up with us sending rescue to peel the moron off the pavement. Glad to know you've learned when it's better to back off than risk lives. I agree with you, there are times when you should definately chase. Thanks for doing the job that you do!

USAincognito said...

There are many departments that are beginning to make their own decisions when it comes to pursuits. Our county has to inform the LT on duty at the time in that a pursuit is in progress. That LT then determines if the pursuit should be continued or disengaged. Kind of covers the officer's butt too since the LT is the one making the call. But you are right, you gotta stop and think about how "serious" of a risk it is to engage in a pursuit based on how "serious" the crime in progress is. Comes with time under the belt and common sense.
Ah, heck, I can remember how gun-ho I was when I first started. Took maybe a year before I was not so much gun-ho - reality kind of kicks in and then you just get down to business, so to speak.

For The People said...

Amen! Great insight there!

Kojak said...

Well said brother. I have said it time and time again to the new rookies. It's just not worth getting hurt chasing them. Unfortunately some of them learn the hard way.