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Multiple factors considered when police engage in high-speed pursuit

The procedures for law enforcement have changed over the years
Published: Mar. 23, 2021 at 12:46 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A high-speed car chase ended in a crash Saturday night, resulting in the death of one Toledo teenager and injuries to two other teens who were also in the vehicle.

According to Toledo Police, their cruiser reached speeds of 102 mph while pursuing the vehicle, which was later found to be stolen.

Law enforcement professionals tell us pursuits at such a high rate of speed are typically called off or told to stand down. It all depends on the conditions of the car chase.

“In those 100-plus mile an hour (chases), you’re talking about controlling, for lack of better description, a moving weapon,” national security expert Tim Dimoff said.

Law enforcement technically used to be allowed to pursue vehicles for any reason, but Dimoff says this has changed over the years to accommodate the safety of suspects, officers, and the public on surrounding roadways.

“It just isn’t worth chasing or pursuing people for minor offenses, or misdemeanor type crimes, so most departments are moving towards, or have moved towards, that felony is a reason you would pursue,” says Dimoff. “Stolen vehicles seem to get in a lot of pursuits. Generally, if the pursuit gets off to high rates of speed in the cities and stuff, even the stolen vehicles, a lot of the time, those pursuits are called off.”

After a pursuit begins, multiple factors are considered when choosing to continue the chase -- location, population, time, and speed.

“You got to remember the people driving the car the officers are pursuing are not experienced, high-speed drivers. They’re not trained like police officers,” Dimoff said. “They’re not race car drivers.”

To minimize risk, Dimoff says many departments now limit the number of vehicles involved in the chase to one car in pursuit, a backup car, and a supervisor monitoring the chase behind the scenes over dispatch.

“They don’t want five, six, seven cruisers racing down a road or a highway,” says Dimoff. “That supervisor at any time has the authority to call the pursuit off, and the officers are bound to listen to that command by a superior officer.”

TPD tells us the pursuit will be received by the officer’s supervisors.

As of now, no charges have been filed in the case.

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