10 Am. J. Police 63 (1991)
Characteristics of Offenders in High-Speed Pursuits

handle is hein.journals/ajpol10 and id is 307 raw text is: American Journal of Police Vol. 10 No. 3 1991 63

Neil Brewer
Gerry McGrath
National Police Research Unit
Adelaide, South Australia
The nature and merits of police involvement in high-speed auto-
mobile pursuits continues to be the subject of considerable debate
(Alpert, 1987; Alpert & Dunham, 1988; Nugent, Connors, McEwen &
Mayo, 1990; Shuman & Kennedy, 1989), with the debate periodically
fueled by the media publicity that follows the occurrence of a serious
accident or fatality. Clearly any pursuit is potentially dangerous for the
police, the pursued driver, and other (uninvolved) road users, and the
financial and human costs of pursuit-related accidents have been well
documented (Shuman & Kennedy, 1989).
Some of the central concerns in the debate on high-speed pursuits
are the conditions under which pursuits should be initiated and termi-
nated, the autonomy of the patrol officer, and the driver training re-
quired by police. Data on the characteristics of pursuits and offenders
obviously should shape decisions on these issues. The availability of
such data would provide an empirical base that would assist both ad-
ministrators and patrol officers in balancing the significance of pursu-
ing and apprehending an offender against the potential dangers inherent
in the pursuit.
Two recent studies have provided sizeable descriptive data bases
on the characteristics of high-speed pursuits. In one study (California
Highway Patrol, 1983), the methodology involved voluntary comple-
tion of questionnaires by U.S. police officers, and in the other (Alpert
& Dunham, 1988), accessing pursuit report forms that were required by
policy in one U.S. jurisdiction. The studies, however, provided only

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