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(A) Statement of policy. The town recognizes that violators of the law will occasionally attempt to elude apprehension or attempt to escape the lawful application of the law by the officers of the law. In their zeal to elude capture or sanctions of the law, known or suspected violators of the law have fled from officers attempting to stop such violators by use of a properly marked police vehicle making full use of all available emergency equipment. Such flight is frequently evidenced by use of excessive speed and other erratic driving behaviors that can expose innocent residents of the town and its environs to injury or loss of life. The need to bring known or suspected law violators to justice must always be balanced against the jeopardy to the citizenry imposed by a police pursuit. The procedures that follow provide the guidelines to ensure that police pursuits by members of the town’s police force are undertaken with the greatest degree of due care; however, this policy is established for the use and guidance of the town’s police force only and does not apply in criminal or civil proceedings. This policy should not be construed as creating a higher standard of safety or care in an evidentiary sense with respect to third party claims than is imposed by law.
(B) Definitions. For the purpose of this section, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning.
EMERGENCY DRIVING. Driving to a situation that is life threatening or involves extreme property loss or driving which justifies the legal use of emergency warning devices. Returning from a scene is not considered EMERGENCY DRIVING.
FLEEING. According to I.C. 35-44.1-3-1(a)(3), a person commits resisting law enforcement if a person knowingly or intentionally flees from a law enforcement officer after the officer has, by visible or audible means, identified himself or herself and ordered the person to stop. Resisting law enforcement is normally a Class A misdemeanor, but is a Class D felony if the person draws or uses a deadly weapon, inflicts bodily injury on another person, or operates a vehicle in a manner that creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person. The offense is a Class C felony if, while committing it, the person operates a motor vehicle in a manner that causes serious bodily injury to another person and a Class B felony if, while committing it, the person operates a vehicle in a manner that causes the death of another person.
PURSUIT DRIVING. The act of a sustained chase of a fleeing person in a motor vehicle in an attempt to apprehend the driver. This includes both closing the distance between the officer and violator before a visual signal to stop (red and blue lights) is given. This also includes the period in which the offender is resisting arrest by knowingly or intentionally failing to yield to the officer.
(C) Pursuit procedures.
(1) Authorization of pursuit driving. An officer must be driving an authorized Town Marshal or town police vehicle which specifically excludes any personally owned vehicle. The vehicle must be equipped with visual and audible warning devices. Seat and shoulder belts must be worn at all times the vehicle is in motion. A pursuit may not be initiated when the vehicle is occupied by prisoners, suspects, complainants, witnesses or any other person not on duty as a police officer. This prohibition applies whether or not the passenger has signed a waiver of liability. Pursuit driving, when permitted by the above, may be initiated for the apprehension of a known or suspected felon when the pursuit is initiated within the corporate limits of the town or within one mile outside the corporate limits; for apprehension of a traffic or misdemeanor violator, when the infraction or misdemeanor has been committed within the corporate limits of the town and in the presence of the officer giving pursuit or in presence of another officer of the town’s police force, or when directed by the county dispatcher to assist another officer already in pursuit.
(2) Pursuit procedures.
(a) The officer has the authority when pursuit driving is permitted to, disregard certain traffic regulations (such as speed limits and the requirement for a complete stop at signs and signals) in disregarding traffic regulations, the officer must still drive with due regard for the safety of others and must not unnecessarily endanger life or property.
(b) Unless the suspect is already fleeing from the officer, the officer should attempt to close the distance between the police vehicle and the violator before activating the emergency lights and siren to avoid alerting the offending driver. Once the officer has successfully closed the distance with the offending driver, the emergency lights and siren should be activated. If the suspect has already fled from the officer or another law enforcement officer, the emergency lights and siren should be activated immediately upon initiating the pursuit.
(c) When the pursuit is initiated, the officer should notify the County Dispatcher of the pursuing status, location, direction of travel, reason for pursuit and as complete a description of the vehicle and occupants as possible. The dispatcher should be advised of the status of the pursuit as frequently as possible. Under police pursuit conditions, the emergency lights (red and blue) and siren must be operating. All possible precautions must be taken by police vehicles engaged in such pursuit to insure the safety of the public and other officers.
(d) The maximum speed, if conditions allow, for pursuit driving is 50 mph within the town and 100 mph outside the town limits. The maximum length of the pursuit of a felony suspect (which does not include a person who is only a suspected felon and is fleeing from a law enforcement officer in a motor vehicle in a manner that creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person) is five miles (but in no event should the pursuit be continued within the corporate boundaries of another municipality). Misdemeanor and traffic violators shall not be pursued more than one mile outside the corporate limits of the town. An officer who is pursuing a vehicle and is required to disengage from the pursuit under this division (C)(2)(d) shall notify the dispatcher and seek assistance from other police agencies in continuing the pursuit.
(e) Pursuit driving should be terminated or avoided if the subject has been identified and can be arrested at a later time. Pursuit driving should also be terminated when the danger to the public caused by the fleeing vehicle outweighs the interests of the community in apprehending the violator, i.e., consideration should be given to the speed of the suspect through crowded areas, driving the wrong way on a one-way street or divided highway, or other ways that the fleeing driver demonstrates a total disregard for his or her safety and the safety of others.
(f) At no time shall more than two police vehicles (including vehicles from other agencies) be in actual pursuit of another vehicle. The second police vehicle, if any, shall maintain a safe distance from the initial pursuit vehicle and will be responsible for keeping the dispatcher advised of information relating to the pursuit. At no time will additional assisting units convoy behind the pursued vehicle. Other police units relatively close may move into the general area of the pursuit using normal emergency limitations, but such units will not use pursuit driving conditions.
(g) An unmarked police vehicle may initiate a pursuit provided the police vehicle possesses at least a revolving red/blue light and siren. A pursuit by an unmarked police vehicle shall be discontinued immediately when a properly marked police vehicle is able to take up the pursuit. Sustained pursuits by unmarked police vehicles should be undertaken only in situations involving extreme jeopardy.
(h) Upon being notified of a pursuit initiated within the county by another law enforcement agency in which the assistance of the town’s police force is requested, all due assistance shall be rendered to the officers of such other agency. All other policies, and procedures described in this ordinance shall apply. Specific permission to join the pursuit is not required.
(i) Under no circumstances are officers of the town’s police force authorized to intentionally ram or to intentionally make contact with the vehicle that is being pursued.
(j) The forcible stopping of a fleeing vehicle by members of the town’s police force may be considered by the use of a roadblock. Roadblocks shall only be established and maintained regarding a vehicle pursuit in an attempt to prevent the escape of a fleeing felon (which does not include a person who is only a suspected felon and is fleeing from a law enforcement officer in a motor vehicle in a manner that creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person) who presents a clear and present danger to other citizens. The authority to establish a roadblock shall rest with the Town Marshal. Roadblocks may only be attempted using town, city or county vehicles or temporary vehicles. At no time shall the citizens of this community be ordered to subject either person or property to a roadblock effort. The use of a “rolling” roadblock to bring the suspect vehicle gradually to a stop is not permitted. The use of a roadblock shall only be instituted after exhausting all other efforts to terminate the flight of the fleeing felon.
(D) Emergency driving/emergency response procedures.
(1) For most responses requiring emergency driving, the maximum speed if conditions allow outside the town limits is 80 mph; and 50 mph, if conditions allow, within the town limits. If the call regards an “officer down,” “assist officer” or “man with gun,” the maximum speed if conditions allow is 100 mph outside the limits of the town and 55 mph within the town. All speeds shall be lowered at night, in areas of dense population, during known farm activity and under adverse weather conditions.
(2) During an emergency run, day or night, there must be a continuous visual warning, i.e., red and blue lights with wig-wag headlights if possible. Also, day or night, there must be a continuous audible warning signal, i.e., siren. The pitch should be changed or horn sounded at intersections when nearing intersections.
(3) All personnel operating the town’s police vehicles shall exercise due regard for the safety of all persons.
(Prior Code, § 26.02) (Ord. 99-03, passed 6-14-1999)