Not worth it? Determining when officers should call off a pursuit for public safety

Not worth it? Determining when officers should call off a pursuit for public safety

YAKIMA, Wash.- “This happens a lot. The officer goes to stop a car and they just take off,” Chief Robert Udell said.

A simple stop that turns into a high-speed chase.

That's what happened Tuesday night at the West Hills Memorial Cemetery but as a man drove away from police attempting to get over a gap, he ended up flipping his car into the street.

No one was seriously hurt, but Udell with the sheriff's office said people try to pull stunts like this all the time when trying to avoid officers.

He said you may see them work in the movies, but they usually have a different result in real life.

“Jumping bridges and all that sort of thing, but that's not reality. The reality is that is can cause serious death of injuries to somebody that is not involved,” he said.

That reality came true as recently as 2014.

The city of Yakima paid a family around $400,000 because two people were killed by a truck that was speeding away from police.

So, it brings up the question of when should officers call off a pursuit.

Udell said they take a number of things into consideration when making that decision such as: time of day, location and the flow of traffic.

“There might be a lot of traffic. There might be kids getting off the school bus and that would be a time when deputies would say, 'not worth it,'” he said.

But law enforcement also has another option. Using necessary force to end the pursuit as soon as possible.

Udell said spike strips, bumping the suspect’s car with a patrol vehicle and road blocks are all used when necessary.

He's says sometimes it just best to stop them before anybody gets hurt.

“A lot of time people are on drugs, alcohol or they're panicked about going to jail. They're not making good decisions when they're driving,” Udell said.

Udell said even if they do call off a pursuit, they're still going to be looking for whoever was behind the wheel.

He said many times the people running away have been arrested before, so they'll know how to find the person even after they drive away.

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