13.031 - Vehicle Eluding/Pursuits

Effective Date: 01/01/2018

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, in an effort to keep pace with and/or immediately stop or apprehend an eluding driver, drives in a manner that is outside of normal traffic restrictions.

2. Unmarked Units Without Emergency Equipment Will Not Engage in Pursuits

3. Officers in Pursuits Will Activate Emergency Lights and Shall Use Their Sirens as Necessary to Warn Others of the Emergency Nature of the Situation

4. Officers Will Not Pursue Without Articulable Justification that the Public Safety Need to Stop the Eluding Vehicle Outweighs the Inherent Risk of Pursuit Driving

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 one or more of the following:

- Traffic violations / civil infractions

- Misdemeanors / gross misdemeanors

Exception: Officers may pursue a DUI suspect so long as the officers adhere to the restrictions in this policy.

- Property crimes

- The act of eluding alone

5. Officers Will Cease Pursuit When the Risk of Pursuit Driving Outweighs the Need to Stop the Eluding Driver

Factors to be considered in weighing the risk of the pursuit include:

- Underlying reason for pursuit

- Location

- Direction of travel and roadway geometry or configuration

- Weather and roadway conditions

- Speed

- Traffic conditions (pedestrians and vehicles)

- Speed and operation of the eluding vehicle

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

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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 7 as soon as practicable.

11. Police Vehicles with Civilian Riders or Passengers Shall Not Participate in a Pursuit, in Any Capacity

12. Marked Police Vehicles Take Priority in Pursuits

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

13. Intentional Vehicle-to-Vehicle Contacts Are Prohibited as Pursuit-Ending Tactics Except as Justified Under the Use of Force Policy

Intentional vehicle-to-vehicle contacts such as the Precision Immobilization Technique (PIT), ramming, or the use of a patrol car as a roadblock are uses of force that officers may use only when consistent with Manual Section 8.300 and must be reported under 8.400.

Only personnel who have been trained in the PIT may engage in this technique.

14. 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 Manual Section 8.300 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.

15. 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 Manual Section 8.400.

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

17. 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/BWV still recording, return to a normal driving pattern, obeying all traffic laws.

- Deactivate all emergency equipment.

18. Officers Will Not Reinitiate Pursuits That Have Been Terminated

Once a pursuit is terminated, no officer will pursue the same vehicle 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.

19. All Driver Officers Involved in a Pursuit will Complete a Blue Team Vehicle Pursuit Entry

Driver 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.

Passenger officers involved in the pursuit will complete a witness officer statement and forward it to the reporting supervisor for attachment to the driver officer’s Blue Team entry.

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

The reporting supervisor will review video from the pursuit to assess circumstances of 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 driver 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 vehicles involved in the pursuit before inputting their comments into each officer’s Blue Team report.

21. 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.

22. 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.