Police Pursuits on the Rise in Pennsylvania

Jul 21, 2013

The number of police pursuits in Pennsylvania has increased once again, according to state police.

Law enforcement agencies across the commonwealth reported 1,522 vehicle pursuits in 2012, up 69 from the previous year.

Eight hundreds pursuits began as simple traffic violations, registration plate violations or inspection violations, and 214 chases were initiated because of suspected DUI. Felony criminal offenses accounted for 228 pursuits, and 131 were due to a stolen or suspected stolen vehicle.

State police spokesman Adam Reed said more than 70 percent of police chases ended in the apprehension of the fleeing motorist.

“Chances are good that you’re going to get caught if you try to run from the police,” Reed said. “The odds just aren’t in your favor, and it’s simply not worth it. It’s not worth putting your life at risk, the officer’s life and the public’s lives in danger just because you’re trying to get away. Chances are it’s not going to end well.”

Fourteen deaths were reported in 2012, 13 of which were violators fleeing from the police, while one fatality was a bystander. No police officers were killed as a result of the pursuits.

Five hundred seventeen of the pursuits ended in 693 crashes, with 187 accidents involving injuries, according to Reed.

“If an offender runs through a busy intersection or a traffic light, other motorists in the area could get involved in it and could crash and the offender could crash as well in the course of a pursuit,” Reed said.

While more than half of all pursuits occurred because of a traffic violation, Reed said a large portion of fleeing suspects were involved in some other unlawful activity.

“A very common reason for an offender or suspect to not pull over for police is because they have something illegal in the car or because they do have an arrest warrant out for them,” Reed said.

Fifty-eight percent of apprehensions were accomplished using a non-aggressive method called “trailing,” in which police vehicles follow the suspect without using lights and sirens in an attempt to bring their vehicle to a stop, Reed said.