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High-Speed Police Pursuits & Restrictions in the US Essay

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Updated: Jun 10th, 2022

In his article published on the Washington Post news portal, Christopher Ingraham (2015) stated that annually, high-speed police pursuits result in more deaths than tornados, floods, hurricanes, and thunderstorms. Multiple surveys report that the initiation of the police chases is the decision the police officers are to make within seconds (California Law Enforcement, 2006; Healy, 2013). As a result, the vast majority of all the pursuit scenarios involve the individuals responsible for non-violent crimes rather than highly dangerous criminals (Crockett, 2015; Frank, 2015; Ingraham, 2015). As a result, the question arises whether police pursuits contribute to public safety or undermine it exposing innocent bystanders to the threats of being injured or killed by the vehicles involved in the high-speed police chase. This issue has been researched and analyzed in a large body of research worldwide. In the United States, the data that demonstrates the statistics of damage produced by police pursuits have been collected. Law enforcement agencies have been frequently criticized by the families of the victimized bystanders and by the owners of damaged property for the reckless attitude and flawed decision-making that resulted in more harm than produced by the pursued criminals. As a result, multiple policies regulating the decision-making of police officers have been implemented. Some of them demonstrated imperfections and were modified over time. Overall, the police pursuit restrictions could have brought positive results saving lives for many innocent pedestrians, drivers, and passengers limiting the number of dangerous high-speed chases in the city. The research methodology proposed in the paper aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the restrictive policies applied to police pursuits.

Purpose of the Research

The U.S. Department of Justice defines pursuit 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 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” (Nugent, Connors, McEwen, & Mayo, 1990, p. 1). The reasons for a police chase may vary from traffic violations to robberies and attempted murders. Pursuits occur when the driver who has committed a felony of some kind refuses to stop by the warning the police officer in the pursuing car and decides to escape at a high speed. In many cases, such cases result in a poor judgment or lack of focus of one of the drivers and a consequential collision with an object, a building, another car, or a pedestrian. The restrictive policy targeting the rates of high-speed police pursuits holds the law enforcement agencies responsible for the damage they produce engaging in car chases that result in injuries, destruction of property, and fatalities (Cooley & Gavery, 2016). In other words, the policies limit the situations in which the law enforcement agencies are deemed immune to the outcomes.

The research described in this paper is the review of the literature concerning the subject of high-speed police chases that took place on the territory of the United States over the past couple of decades. Specifically, the research targets the data demonstrating the rates of police pursuits, the frequency of negative outcomes such as car accidents, the number of injuries individuals (felons, bystanders, and police officers) and fatalities. The research carries qualitative character and attempts to find the answers to research questions and hypotheses presented in the following section.

Research Questions and Hypothesis

Since the literature review would be conducted for the purpose to evaluate the effectiveness of high-speed police chase restrictions, the most important questions it will need to focus on are the following:

  1. What were the rates of high-speed police pursuits on the territory of the United States over the last couple of decades?
  2. What damage did they result in for the bystanders, police officers, private property, and the pursued felons? What kind of crimes did the pursued lawbreakers commit?
  3. What kind of policies were implemented?
  4. What was the effect of the policies restricting the high-speed police chase?
  5. How did the numbers of police pursuits change in correlation with the implemented policies? How did the number of victims change compared to what it used to be before the implementation of the policies?

The hypothesis this literature review will test is that the restrictive policies as to the high-speed police chase result in the decrease of the number of police pursuits across the United States, and in turn, the number of victimized individuals also drops. This will be the only aspect of the policy evaluated in the research. Such potential outcomes as the effects on the crime rates and the number of criminals who managed to disappear from the crime scene uncaught will not be taken into consideration as the main focus of the paper is on the car chase namely and how it impacts the individuals involved.

The research will concentrate on the correlation and comparison of the data before and after the implementations of the restrictive policies to demonstrate whether or not they produced an impact on the pursuit rates that are deemed as a dangerous (and in many cases, unjustified and unreasonable) happening. In other words, the research will evaluate how the restrictive policies fulfill their primary tasks that are outlined by the U.S. Department of Justice as: a) providing the police officers with clear instructions as to their actions in pursuit situations; b) reduction of damage to people and property; c) helping the police to maintain its mission as the protectors of public safety (Nugent, Connors, McEwen, & Mayo, 1990, p. 2).


The search for the relevant sources will be conducted with the engines such as Google Search and Google Scholar. The located sources will be sorted based on such inclusion criteria as matching subject (restrictions as to police pursuit, effects and implications of the policies, statistics concerning the number of victims and amount of damage produced by the police chases, before and after patterns). The sources will be searched with the help of such keywords as the high-speed police chase, police pursuit, restrictions, policies, effects/outcomes, before and after, statistics. All of the sources will be then sorted based on their reliability. In other words, the sources from scientific journals, books, and reliable websites (surveys, analyses, statistics reports) would be preferred to news articles and blogs. The sources would not be strictly judged according to their date of release as the data from several decades would be desired. In addition, the sources will be sorted based on the geographical regions they discuss. Only the sources describing the policies and statistics in place on the territory of the United States will be included in the literature review. That way, the sampling method applied to select the studies and sources of information for this review is non-probability sampling.

Variables, Unit of Analysis and Statistical Technique

The unit of analysis of this review includes the representatives of law enforcement and their response to the implementation of the restrictive policies in reference to the pursuit. The data collected prior to the policies were in power will be regarded as the independent variables. The dependent ones will be represented by the data after the policies were applied so that the policies would act as the determinant.

The statistical technique this review will rely on is meta-analysis that will allow the researcher to process multiple sources in order to locate a large body of diverse data. All the acquired information will be synthesized and evaluated for the deeper understanding of the subject, the identification of the answers to the established research questions, and the fulfillment (or disproval) of the hypothesis.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Research


Literature review relies on multiple sources of data, and therefore, allows the researcher to obtain clear and detailed information as to the chosen subject. Besides, many of the sources are evaluated prior to their inclusion in the review, and that is why the data is likely to have a higher degree of reliability and validity. Finally, literature review includes the sources that come from various points of view and thus, ensures the critical approach to the subject.


Some of the sources included in the review may provide biased on incorrect information and could jeopardize the overall findings. Besides, it is possible that some of the required information would not be found in the reviewed literature and that way, the study will end up providing the reader with incomplete or limited data. Finally, in case if the selected subject is too general or too specific the precise information relevant to the purpose of the research could be difficult to locate in the course of sampling.


California Law Enforcement. (2006). Vehicle pursuit guidelines. Web.

Cooley, A. G., & Gavery, B. (2016). Police Pursuit and High-Speed Driving Lawsuits. The Police Chief, 73(10).

Crockett, Z. (2015). .

Frank, T. (2015). .

Healy, P. (2013). .

Ingraham, C. (2015). .

Nugent, H., Connors, E., McEwen, T., & Mayo, L. (1990)..

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IvyPanda. "High-Speed Police Pursuits & Restrictions in the US." June 10, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/high-speed-police-pursuits-amp-restrictions-in-the-us/.


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