Police pursuits in Pennsylvania rise for second year in a row

police pursuits philadelphia
In one of the most infamous police pursuits in recent memory, Pennsylvania couple Blake Bills and Shayna Sykes in March allegedly stole two cruisers and led officers on a multistate chase.
Credit: Rikard Larma/Metro

The number of Pennsylvania police pursuits in 2012 increased for the second consecutive year, Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan announced Monday.

Law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania are required to report all data concerning pursuits to the state police-maintained Pennsylvania Police Pursuit Reporting System.

Using that information, officials found police departments across the state reported being involved in 1,522 vehicle pursuits last year, compared to 1,453 in 2011 and 1,413 in 2010.

“Vehicle pursuits involve a very high degree of risk,” Noonan said in a statement.

“We must constantly balance the risk we present to ourselves and the public against our duty to apprehend.”

The most common reason for last year’s police pursuits may come as a surprise – 800, or more than half of them, touched off due to traffic violations.

The number of fatalities resulting from police pursuits in 2012 rose for the fifth consecutive year, reaching 14 reported deaths, compared to 13 in 2011 and eight in each of the years from 2008 through 2010.

Thirteen of those killed last year were suspects fleeing from police, while one was a bystander uninvolved in the incident.

In addition, 517 of the pursuits resulted in crashes – 187 of them involving injuries.

“The message here is don’t run from police – it’s not worth it,” Noonan said.


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