Pennsylvania State Police Report Number of Police Pursuits Fell in 2010

HARRISBURG – The number of police pursuits in Pennsylvania dropped last year, State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan announced.

Law enforcement agencies across the state reported involvement in 1,413 vehicle pursuits in 2010, compared to 1,582 pursuits in 2009. Last year’s pursuits resulted in 583 crashes, with 174 involving injuries.

The pursuits resulted in nine fatalities, including eight people who died while fleeing police and an additional person who was not directly involved in a pursuit. No police officers died in pursuits last year.

The statistics are contained in the 2010 Pennsylvania Police Pursuit Report, compiled by State Police from data submitted from police departments statewide.

The report can be accessed through the Police Pursuit Reporting System online.  

Other information contained in the report shows that:

  • Slightly more than half of all the pursuits (742) were initiated because of traffic violations, including speeding. The other most common reasons for police to initiate pursuits were driving under the influence or suspected DUI (208); felony criminal offenses (214); and stolen or suspected stolen vehicles (101).
  • 1,000 pursuits ultimately resulted in the apprehension of the fleeing motorist.
  • 56.9 percent of the apprehensions were accomplished using a trailing pursuit, in which officers simply follow the violator’s vehicle in an attempt to bring it to a stop. Trailing pursuits are the least aggressive type of pursuit.

The report is designed to provide statistical information to police agencies to help them evaluate their pursuit policies and to help identify training successes and deficiencies. It does not organize the statistics by department, municipality or county, nor does it attempt to explain increases or decreases in any of the categories.

Since 1996, the Vehicle Code has required State Police to compile and publish pursuit reports. In addition to submitting information to State Police, every police department in Pennsylvania is also required to have a written emergency vehicle-response policy governing procedures under which an officer should start, continue or end a pursuit.

A pursuit is defined in the Vehicle Code as an attempt by a police officer to apprehend one or more occupants of a vehicle when the driver is resisting apprehension by maintaining or increasing his speed or by ignoring the police officer’s audible or visual signal to stop.

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