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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nearly A Third Of Police Pursuits Result In Crashes

PSP Reports Drop in
Pursuits, Fatalities in 2008

The number of police pursuits in Pennsylvania and the number of people killed in those pursuits dropped last year, State Police Commissioner Frank E. Pawlowski announced today.

Pawlowski said law enforcement agencies across Pennsylvania reported involvement in 1,809 vehicle pursuits in 2008, a drop of 6.3 percent from the 1,931 pursuits in 2007. The number of deaths resulting from those pursuits fell from 13 in 2007 to nine last year, he said.

The statistics are contained in the 2008 Pennsylvania Police Pursuit Report, which was compiled by state police and can be accessed through the Police Pursuit Reporting System link at

Other information contained in the report shows that:

*603 of the pursuits resulted in crashes, with 212 of those crashes resulting in injuries.
*Slightly more than half of all the pursuits (910) were initiated because of traffic violations, including speeding. The other most common reasons for police to initiate pursuits were felony criminal offenses (260); driving under the influence or suspected DUI (239); and stolen or suspected stolen vehicles (227).
*1,301 pursuits resulted in the apprehension of the fleeing motorist.

"Under state law, every police department in Pennsylvania must have a written emergency vehicle-response policy governing procedures under which an officer should initiate, continue or terminate a pursuit," Pawlowski said. "By law, these policies are confidential."

The Vehicle Code defines a pursuit as an "attempt by a police officer operating a motor vehicle to apprehend one or more occupants of a vehicle when the driver of the vehicle is resisting the apprehension by maintaining or increasing his speed or by ignoring the police officer's audible or visual signal to stop."

Since 1996, the Vehicle Code has required state police to compile and publish pursuit reports.

Police agencies in Pennsylvania report their pursuit data directly to state police through the Pennsylvania Police Pursuit Reporting System, which is an Internet-based system maintained by the state police Bureau of Research and Development.

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