Los Angeles Police Department – Facts on Pursuits

May 3, 1999

Monday, May 3, 1999
Los Angeles Police Department

While pursuits are appearing more often throughout the media, they are actually decreasing in occurrence within the LAPD jurisdiction:

1993 – 908 pursuits
1994 – 821 pursuits
1995 – 827 pursuits
1996 – 644 pursuits
1997 – 643 pursuits
1998 – 534 pursuits

After each and every pursuit, the Los Angeles Police Department makes a complete and thorough investigation of the incident, including a review at the Captain and Deputy Chief level.

Before a pursuit is initiated, the involved patrol officers must accomplish the following tasks (and usually, within seconds):

Weigh the public safety component against the believed severity of the crime committed

Notify Communications

Request back-up, including an airship

Notify the supervisor

Activate the lights and siren

Weigh the possibility of having to pull out of the pursuit at a future point. Doing so creates the extremely undesirable condition of a car speeding through the streets without the warning of lights and sirens nearby.

The largest percentage of deaths, injuries and accidents resulting from pursuits are suffered by the suspect. Thus, fleeing from the police often results in self-injury.

The public can assist with the successful closure of police pursuits by driving as responsibly as possible, which includes always being aware of surroundings. Adjust the music, air conditioning and windows so that noises outside of the vehicle can always be heard.

In California, there is a 1 in 4,000,000 chance of being killed in a pursuit as a third party. You are 6.6 times more likely of being struck by lightening.

Most pursuits begin when a motorist does not pull over when requested by patrol officers for a vehicle code infraction. However, the majority of charges made after a pursuit are penal code felonies including, murder, rape and robbery.

In 1998, of the 534 suspects who were pursued by LAPD, 365 were arrested on felonious charges. Four were guilty of the original vehicle code infraction only.

History has proven time and time again, when a vehicle gives chase, it is virtually always because there is a more serious crime involved.

LAPD makes more than 500,000 traffic stops per year. Pursuits represent a miniscule percentage of those stops.

In 1998, the average LAPD pursuit lasted 6.26 minutes, however the largest percentage of pursuits was between one and two minutes in duration.

In 1998, the average LAPD pursuit covered 4.71 miles, however the largest percentage of pursuits covered between 1 and 2 miles.

An LAPD helicopter assists with approximately 40% of the pursuits. Many pursuits end before a helicopter arrives.

LAPD does not initiate pursuits, criminals do.

For Release 11:15 am PST
May 3, 1999