Nashville Changes Rules On Police Pursuits


Nashville police officers no longer may participate in pursuits without explicit permission from their supervisors, Chief Ronal Serpas announced Friday, the Tennessean reports. The supervisor must continue giving authorization as the conditions of the pursuit change. Starting this week, if a suspect flees and an officer wants to give chase, the officer must radio a supervisor immediately with details. The supervisor decides whether the pursuit is allowable. Previously officers could proceed until ordered to stop.

The chief said he was examining the policy before a fatal January chase a few days after he took over the department. A Tennessean analysis found that two thirds of pursuits in 2003 violated the department’s policy that officers should initiate a chase only when a person’s life is in danger.

Two experts on police-pursuit policies said the policy additions might not be the right answer. Edward Mamet, who spent 40 years with the New York City Police Department, said Nashville’s old policy was standard among those used across the country. Criminologist Geoffrey Alpert of the University of South Carolina said the department could do more to protect motorists from accidents resulting from pursuits. The Nasvhille policy is not so restrictive as the one adopted in Memphis or the one recommended by the Tennessee Municipal League. Those policies severely restrict when officers can pursue.


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