FOOT PURSUITS SOP 1.85 SFC A. SONDEJ 12/2006 rev.
Foot PursuitMarch 8, 1997, Winter Haven, Florida:“The male allegedly fled into nearbywoods, and the officer, who was wearingbody armor, pursued him on foot. Backupofficers arriving on the scene momentslater heard gunshots and immediatelybegan a search of the area.” They foundthe victim officer several yards away with afatal gunshot wound to the face.
Foot Pursuit July 20, 1997, Portland, Oregon:“Recognizing the individual as the suspectthey were looking for, the officers bothgave chase into the overgrown backyardof the residence where they becameseparated by a hedge. The victim officerwas shot at close range with a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun in thehand, leg, and fatally in the sternum, justabove the collar of his protective vest.”
Foot PursuitFBI research has shown that a significantnumber of officers assaulted during footpursuits had no plan of action other thanarresting the suspect.While there are no statistic kept regardinginjury and death to officers in foot pursuits,it is a significant risk activity.
Foot PursuitKey to surviving a foot pursuit andapprehending the actor is to have a plan.Standard Operating procedure S.1.85provides a framework to engage in footpursuits in a safe and tactical manner.
Contact/CoverDescribes the practice of having two ormore officers working together during afoot pursuit. The officers work in unison viadirect or indirect communication tocoordinate their efforts, remain aware ofthe locations of officers and suspects, andkeep abreast of the status of the pursuit.
Foot Pursuit:A situation in which an officer, on foot,chases a suspect in an effort to detain orarrest that individual that he hasreasonable suspicion to believe is about tocommit, is committing or has committed acrime and who is resisting apprehensionby fleeing from the officer.
Supervisor:Member of the department assigned to aposition requiring the exercise ofimmediate supervision over the activitiesof members and employees.
Suspect:Includes any individual who a police officerreasonably believes is about to commit, iscommitting or has committed an offense orposes an immediate threat to the safety ofthe public, other officers, or themselves.
Factors to consider when initiating a foot pursuit:Whether the suspect is armedThe offense committed by the suspectNature of area: residential, commercial, school zone,expressway, etc.Conditions of the structures: abandoned or condemnedEnvironmental factors: weather or darknessAbility to apprehend the suspect at a later dateFamiliarity with area, ability to transmit location of fleeingsuspectRadio frequency and coverage (dead spots)Availability of backup units to assist
Pursuing Officers ResponsibilityThe decision to initiate or continue a footpursuit requires weighing the need toapprehend the suspect against the degreeof risk to which the officer and others areexposed as a result of the pursuit.
Pursuing Officers Responsibility On Pursuing the officer must notify Police Communications of: – Car number – Location – Direction of flight – Description of suspect – If armed with a weapon – Reason for foot pursuit
Pursuing Officers Responsibility The pursuing officer will coordinate with other officers to establish a perimeter in the area to contain the suspect. – In the event that a suspect is confined in an area, consideration should be given to the use of specialized units such as Canine, ERT or Mutual Aid Helicopter.
Communications ResponsibilityPolice Communications will notify asupervisor of the pursuit circumstancesand any other relevant information.All non emergency communications will beheld and the officer in foot pursuit shallhave priority on radio communications.
Officer Killed During a Foot PursuitAfter responding to a domestic abuse call, the victimofficer saw a man fitting the suspects description run into afield.The officer exited his patrol vehicle and chased the man through some tall weeds. During the pursuit, the suspectturned and fired a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun,striking the officer in the wrist, twice in his protective vest,and once just above the vest. The victim officer returnedgunfire, striking the suspect twice in the torso. The pursuitcontinued until the suspect fatally wounded himself in thechest. The officer died later at a local hospital.
Tactical ConsiderationsIf possible, officers should consider thefeasibility of the following strategies ortactics prior to initiating foot pursuits:– Area containment– Surveillance– Obtaining additional officers– Contact and cover
Officer shall terminate a foot pursuit:If ordered by a supervisor.If the officer believes that the danger to thepursuing officers or the public outweighs thenecessity for immediate apprehension of thesuspect.If the officer loses his/her weapon.If communications are lost.Any circumstance where an officer loses sight ofthe suspect and proceeding will place the officerin a tactically disadvantageous situation.
Officers may terminate a foot pursuit:If the suspect’s identity is known and he isnot an immediate threat to the safety ofthe public or other officers, and can beapprehend at a later date.
Post termination actionsAfter termination of the foot pursuit,officers will notify Police Communicationswith the last know location of suspect orpoint of apprehension.Request any additional assistance ormedical aid.Suspects shall be apprehended in amanner consistent with the departmentuse of force directive.
Supervisor’s RoleThe supervisor’s role is to monitor a footpursuit and appropriately direct resourcesto safely apprehend the suspect.The supervisor will terminate a foot pursuitat any time if it is determined the danger tothe pursuing officers or the publicoutweighs the necessity for immediateapprehension of the suspect.
TrainingFoot Pursuit training shall be administeredonce per year.
Officer Injured During a Foot PursuitWhile on vehicle patrol, the victim officer and his partnersaw two individuals in an automobile. After determining thatthe pair matched the description of two suspects wanted forpossessing a handgun, the officers stopped the vehicle.The passenger immediately fled on foot, and the victim officerchased him for several blocks. After the victim officer lostsight of the suspect, he began searching an area in front of abuilding. The suspect, hiding in nearby bushes, opened firewith a small-caliber handgun and wounded the officer in thehead and legs, causing extensive injury. The assailant escapedfrom the scene but surrendered to authorities 2 days later. Thevictim officer survived the attack but could not resume hisduties and retired from the department.
Tips for Surviving Foot Pursuits Safe Officers….Always radio their dispatchers to advise of their location,the reason for pursuing the suspect, and the direction ofthe chase.Always ensure that suspects who flee from vehicles donot have accomplices in the car who may attack frombehind.Always take their vehicle keys with them to avoid havingsuspects return to the scene and flee in police units.Always wait for backup if they believe that the suspect isarmed.
Tips for Surviving Foot Pursuits Safe Officers….Always try to follow the same general pathas the suspects so that the suspectsdiscover any hidden obstacles such asclotheslines, wires, cables, holes, andsprinkler heads first.Always remain cautious, in control, andalert for additional threats and otherchanges in the situation.