13.031 - Vehicle Eluding/Pursuits

Effective Date: 01/01/2015

13.031-POL

1. Definitions

Eluding - For the purposes of this section, eluding exists when an officer operating an authorized police vehicle issues by hand, voice, emergency lights or siren a visual and/or audible signal to the driver of a vehicle to stop and, after a reasonable time to yield in response to the officer’s signal, the driver does any of the following:

- Increases speed

- Takes evasive actions

- Refuses to stop

Pursuit – For the purposes of this section, a pursuit exists when an officer, operating an authorized police vehicle with emergency lights and siren activated, proceeds in an effort to keep pace with and/or immediately apprehend an eluding driver.

2. Pursuing Officers Will Exercise Due Care and Activate Emergency Equipment

Officers engaged in a pursuit shall drive with due regard for the safety of all persons, and will use both emergency lights and continuous siren.

3. Officers Will Not Pursue Without Justification

The circumstances justifying the decision to pursue an eluding vehicle must be articulable at the time the officer initiates the pursuit.

Officers will not pursue solely for any one of the following:

- Traffic violations / Civil Infractions

- Misdemeanors

- Gross misdemeanors

- Property crimes

- The act of eluding alone

4. Officers Will Cease Pursuit When the Risk of the Pursuit Outweighs the Danger to the Public if the Suspect is not Captured

5. The Department Will Not Discipline Officers, Supervisors, or Commanders for Declining to Initiate or Deciding to Terminate a Pursuit

6. Officers Must Notify Communications of Pursuits

The primary unit shall immediately advise Communications when initiating a pursuit and shall update relevant details including:

- Reason for pursuit

- Location

- Direction

- Description of suspect vehicle and suspect(s)

- Speed

- Traffic conditions (Pedestrians and Vehicles)

After joining the pursuit, the secondary unit shall assume the responsibility for all radio transmissions from the primary unit.

7. Communications Will Notify Supervisors of Pursuits

The Communications Section shall immediately notify the primary unit’s supervisor and watch commander of the pursuit.

If the pursuing unit’s supervisor is not available, Communications will notify another supervisor in the precinct.

8. Supervisors Approve Pursuits Leaving the City and Assisting in Pursuits by Other Agencies

Officers must receive authorization from a supervisor to continue a pursuit outside the Seattle city limits.

When an SPD pursuit enters another jurisdiction, Communications shall notify the appropriate agency and request assistance.

Officers will not join outside agency pursuits without supervisor approval.

9. The Controlling Supervisor is Responsible for the Pursuit

The controlling supervisor’s responsibility extends only to the question of whether the pursuit is within policy. In order to make this determination, the controlling supervisor shall immediately establish radio contact with the primary unit and gather relevant information as described in paragraph 6 as soon as practicable.

10. Units with Civilian Riders or Passengers Shall Not Participate in a Pursuit, in Any Capacity

11. Marked Cars Take Priority in Pursuits

Police motorcycle units and unmarked police cars with emergency equipment may initiate pursuits. However, marked police cars will assume the primary positions as soon as possible.

12. Only Trained Personnel May Use Pursuit-Ending Tactics

Except as stated herein, ramming, roadblocks, and the Precision Immobilization Technique (PIT) are prohibited as pursuit tactics.

Exception: Some personnel in specialized units have been trained in specific techniques to terminate a pursuit. Only these personnel so trained may engage these techniques.

Intentional vehicle-to-vehicle contacts such as the PIT, ramming, or the use of a patrol car as a roadblock are uses of force that officers can use only when consistent with 8.300-POL-7 and must be reported under 8.400.

13. Only Officers Trained in the Use of Tire Deflation Devices such as Stop Sticks May Deploy Them

Tire deflation devices are not intended for use on motorcycles. Use of tire deflation devices on a motorcycle will be considered use of deadly force.

Officers may deploy tire deflation devices only when consistent with 8.300-POL-7 and only after giving the deployment location over the radio to other units. If the primary pursuing officers do not acknowledge, then the tire deflation devices will not be used.

The controlling supervisor reserves the right to override or rescind the decision to deploy.

14. The Officer Deploying Stop Sticks is Responsible for Reporting Use

After each deployment the officer shall collect any damaged sections of the device for return to the manufacturer.

Exception: Damaged sections will not go to the manufacturer if they are retained by the evidence section.

The officer will complete a Stop Stick Deployment Report (form 2.26), required for product replacement.

The officer will attach a copy of the Stop Stick Deployment Report to their Blue Team entry.  The original report is sent to the Quartermaster for equipment replacement.

The use of stop sticks must be reported under 8.400.

15. The Primary Officer or a Supervisor May Terminate a Pursuit

16. Officers will Disengage When Pursuit is Terminated

When a pursuit is terminated by the primary officer or a supervisor, pursuing officers will do the following:

- With ICV still recording, pull over or, if practical under the circumstances, turn off of the eluding route and return to a normal driving pattern.

- Deactivate all emergency equipment.

- Flag the ICV recording.

17. Officers Will Not Reinitiate Pursuits That Have Been Terminated

Once a pursuit is terminated, no officer will pursue the same car anywhere in the city.

Exception: An officer may reinitiate the pursuit if either of the following apply:

- An officer has an articulable basis to believe that a new violent crime has been committed.

OR

- A supervisor gives authorization to reinitiate the pursuit.

18. All Officers Involved in a Pursuit will complete a Blue Team Vehicle Pursuit Entry

Officers will detail their involvement in the pursuit using a Blue Team entry titled “Vehicle Pursuit”.  In the incident summary, officers will detail:

- Light conditions

- Roadway lighting

- Traffic conditions

- Road conditions

- Weather conditions

- Whether their vehicle was a one- or two-officer car

- Whether their vehicle was marked 

- Whether lights and sirens were activated

Route of travel

When the officer has completed the Blue Team entry, he or she will forward the entry to the supervisor responsible for monitoring the pursuit.

19. Supervisors Will Review Video and Each Officer’s Blue Team Entry

The reporting supervisor will review relevant video from all cars in the pursuit to assess relevant circumstances relating to the initiation of the vehicle stop and the initiation, continuation, and termination of the pursuit.  The supervisor will bookmark the relevant video for subsequent review. 

The supervisor will ensure all officers involved in the pursuit complete a Blue Team entry titled “Vehicle Pursuit” and that the primary officer completes a GO report.

The supervisor in responsible for monitoring a pursuit will review each officer’s  Blue Team entry.  

In the Comments Section of each officer’s Blue Team entry, the supervisor will include:

- A short summary of the pursuit

- What control they extended over the pursuit

- Whether the decision to initiate and/or maintain pursuit of an eluding vehicle was within policy

- Recommendations: training, OPA referral, commendation, etc.

The supervisor will attach any associated administrative reports to the Blue Team entry and then forward to the Chief of Police through the primary pursuing unit’s chain of command whether or not a suspect is apprehended.

Watch lieutenants and precinct captains will review the bookmarked portions of the video from all cars involved in the pursuit before inputting their comments into each officer’s Blue Team report.

20. Eluding Incidents Ending in a Vehicle Collision Trigger Notifications

A sergeant will respond to the scene of any known collision that involves an eluding vehicle, regardless of whether an officer has initiated pursuit following a driver’s refusal to stop a described in paragraph 1.

A Blue Team Pursuit entry is still required if a pursuit results in a collision. The responding sergeant will notify the sergeant of the Traffic Collision Investigation Squad and the chain of command up to the Patrol Operations Bureau Chief.

21. The Patrol Operations Bureau Prepares an Annual Report

The Patrol Operations Bureau Chief will analyze pursuit reports and use that data to prepare an annual report for the Chief of Police.