Changes have arrived for how and when Cincinnati police will pursue a vehicle after an offense has been committed.
On March 16, the Cincinnati Police Department made updates to its pursuit policy, with the goal of providing "additional safety to not only our officers, but also to the citizens of Cincinnati, including the driver or occupants of vehicles being pursued," said Interim Police Chief Lt. Col. Teresa Theetge in a statement.
The changes apply both to the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
Per a provided copy of the update: "A pursuit may be initiated only when the officer is attempting to apprehend a suspect in a serious offense of violence or in situations where the initial, observable actions of the violator or vehicle occupant, occurring before the attempt of a traffic stop, constitute a risk of serious physical harm to others or the officer, requiring an immediate effort to stop the violator."
It also says "the following factors individually and collectively shall be considered in deciding whether to initiate or continue a pursuit:"
- The public's safety in the pursuit area, including the type of area, time of day, the amount of vehicular and pedestrian traffic (e.g., school zones), and the speed of the pursuit relative to these factors.
- The pursuing officer's familiarity with the area of the pursuit, the quality of radio communication between the pursuing units and the dispatcher/supervisor, and the driving capabilities of the pursuing officers under the conditions of the pursuit.
- The weather, traffic, and road conditions that unreasonably increase the danger of the pursuit when weighed against the risks resulting from the suspect's escape.
- The performance capabilities of the vehicles used in the pursuit in relation to the speed and other conditions of the pursuit.
- Vehicle speeds
- Other persons in or on the pursued vehicle (e.g., passengers, co-offenders, and hostages).
- The availability of other resources, such as aircraft assistance.
- The seriousness of the known or reasonably suspected crime and its relationship to community safety.
- The importance of protecting the public and balancing the known or reasonably suspected offense and the apparent need for immediate capture against the risks to officers, innocent motorists, and others.
- The apparent nature of the fleeing suspect (e.g., whether the suspect represents a serious threat to public safety).
- The suspect's identity has been verified, and there is comparatively minimal risk in allowing the suspect to be apprehended at a later time
The guidelines will help officers balance safety and duty, the city says, with the policy reading that "the immediate apprehension of a suspect is generally not more important than the safety of the public and pursuing officers." The policy also suggests that adapting the pursuit policy will decrease the related chance of car crashes.
“I want to thank leaders in CPD for their proactive attention to ensuring that police procedures minimize the risk of harm to officers and residents," Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval said in a statement. "By ensuring that pursuit procedures apply specifically to incidents of violent crime, this policy allows officers to more directly use their time and resources to protect residents against violence."
A copy of the updated Hamilton County pursuit policy is below, provided by the city of Blue Ash.
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