If a suspect flees during a traffic stop, law enforcement is faced with the decision to pursue.
Policies to make the judgement call differ throughout departments.
For Illinois State Police, troopers look into the factors around the initial stop to decide if a pursuit is necessary.
“Based on what they know at that time,” said Illinois State Police District 16 Commander Captain Carl Heintz. “[Based on] all the information that they have, basically our guidelines are when they’re aware of the infliction or threat of infliction of great bodily harm to commit a felony.”
If there are other suspicions, troopers present the information to the shift commander for direction.
“They would have to articulate and justify why they’re going to be involved with that,” said Heintz. “Then the shift commander has the ultimate responsibility to allow it to continue and to terminate it.”
Heintz says multiple other conditions can also come into play.
“They have to consider speed conditions, the weather, if it’s dark or light,” said Heintz. “Whether they’re in a marked or unmarked car, the presence of other people in the police vehicle or the presence of other people in the suspect vehicle.”
In addition, Captain Heintz says officers consider using deflation devices to bring a pursuit to an end but add there’s also risks when using them. ISP will also assist if they’re near a pursuit they hear over the radio to lessen the risk to the public
“If that trooper is on that I-39 ramp, it would only make sense for them to activate their emergency lights and slow that traffic down and not let it into Bypass 20 until it’s passed.”
Police say it’s in everyone’s best interest to follow orders once those lights and sirens go off.
“If you’re given a signal to stop. just stop. Take your tickets and deal with it. It’s not worth risking someone else’s life or your own.”