Arrive alive

Arrive alive! How many times have we heard this over our career?  From the early days in the academy, we have heard our trainers say that we can’t help if we don’t get there. We have always taken the stance that we want our officers to arrive safely on every scene.  I remember very vividly running an assist the officer call on London Street in Southeast.  As I slowed to make the turn, one of my classmates hit me from behind sending me into a ditch.  We were two blocks from the assist.  Luckily no one was hurt, other than my classmate’s pride, and another unit made it to the officer in need and quickly handled business at the assist.

That was a very clear lesson that we both learned that day.  It was true, you can’t help anyone if you are in an accident.  This also pulls resources from other areas if you are in an accident.  Last thing you want to do is get anyone hurt because you get “hyped up” running hot.  Our adrenaline increases with the lights and sirens and high speeds, but we must consider the ramifications if you are involved in an accident. No officer wants to be responsible for injuring or killing a citizen or worse their partner due to an accident.  You can look around the country at what is going on with litigation regarding accidents.  Officers are now getting indicted for doing their jobs when they are in an accident, and someone is injured or killed.  We have had several of our accidents go before a grand jury recently and it is difficult if you are one of those waiting for people who have never done the job, possibly determining your future.

This leads me to the new chase policy.  I have heard so many people saying that the department is going to stop us from chasing suspects.  I have had several meetings with the chief and the committee working on the new policy.  The Chief and I agree, we must have the ability to chase!  The policy was changed very little but does call for more oversight by supervisors. Many of the discussions where over what reasons officers should be allowed to continue a pursuit.  If it is only class C offenses, we must be able to articulate why it is important to chase.  Example, the vehicle matches the description of robbery suspects, or you see a vehicle trying to pick up a child, this could be PC to be involved in a chase of a suspect, but we must articulate it to a supervisor.  When you put the previous policy next to the new policy you will see that very little has changed.  I have heard several supervisors say that we cannot chase for any reason if we know who they are. I have not seen anything in the policy saying that.

The most dangerous time in any chase is the first few minutes.  This is when adrenalin and tunnel vision is at its highest.  We must train and prepare for those moments.  We have asked the Chief for more training in real life pursuit driving as well as more PIT training, and we believe that he has this as a goal for the next few years. Remember, we lose more on-duty officers in this country every year due to traffic fatalities than any other reason.  At the end of the day, our main goal should be to go home safe to our families without fear of injury or indictment. Please slow down and stay safe!

Author Doug Griffith

Published September 15, 2023