Police officers at times must make a life-or-death choice when they come across shooting victims who are rapidly losing blood: Risk watching them bleed to death in a matter of minutes, or put them in the car and drive. The Philadelphia Inquirer says Philadelphia is one of a few cities that use police transports, sometimes called “scoop and runs” by officers, or “cop drops” by doctors. Patrol officers estimate that they take as many as a third of the city’s shooting victims–674 in total last year–to hospitals.
Police in high-crime neighborhoods often arrive at scenes several minutes ahead of an ambulance. Since Philadelphia’s EMS and ambulance system has long been described as overworked and stretched thin, police commanders say a police transport is an efficient choice when a shooting victim is near death. Police believe that without transports, the city’s murder rate would be higher. Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel says that besides getting some patients to hospitals faster, getting victims off the street can defuse tension and lessen the chance of a retaliatory shooting. “Is it perfect?” he said. “No. Obviously, there are some times when officers don’t take someone, or they wait too long. But the bottom line is that it saves lives.”