In Los Angeles County and other parts of the nation, police officers now are discouraged from chasing many suspects who run, the Los Angeles Times reports. Stung by the risky violence that often results when officer and suspect finally come face to face, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies are encouraged to radio for backup so others can help surround and capture the suspect. Deputies still may follow suspects on foot, but they must keep a safe distance until reinforcements arrive.
Police agencies across the U..S. have enacted new policies to deal with when and how officers should pursue suspects who run. The Sheriff’s Department policy, dating from 2004, is one of the nation’s most restrictive. It states that deputies cannot confront suspects alone and should not split from their partners during foot pursuits. The issue is important because most deputies work in one-person patrol cars. Many deputies believe the policy is too restrictive and prevents them from doing their jobs: arresting criminals. They say some suspects know that deputies won’t chase them if they run and brazenly take advantage of the policy. “If you see somebody you believe to be a bad guy and they take off running, it’s almost an instinct to chase after them. A lot of times you’re not thinking, ‘Am I in policy or out of policy?’ ” said deputy George Hofstetter. “It’s one of those things that becomes ingrained in you: to catch the person and take them to jail.”