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CHP officials share protocol for high speed chases

There have been several high speed chases on the North Coast in the last week, including the one that ended in the death of a Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputy.  California Highway Patrol officers shared what goes into a high speed chase with News Channel 3.

California Highway Patrol officials say in spite of multiple high speed chases in the area recently, there has not been a spike in vehicle pursuits.

"I think pursuits are something that occur fairly often among different agencies.  They will continue to occur,” said Officer Matt Harvey, the Public Information Officer for the California Highway Patrol.

CHP officials also say no two chases are ever the same, because many different factors are considered.  However, one aspect of vehicle pursuits remains constant.

"Safety is a key concern.  It's at the top of our mind at all times when we're pursuing a vehicle," Officer Harvey said.

For that reason, if a motorist flees from an officer during a traffic stop, the officer does not automatically begin the chase. The type of vehicle being driven by the violator, the officer involved, whether or not the officer has backup or not, the time of day, identity of the violator and weather are among the factors considered before an officer decides to engage in a chase.

Once a pursuit begins, the officer is constantly evaluating whether to continue or discontinue the pursuit.

“We definitely don't want to put the officer at an increased risk of harm, we don't want to put the public at an increased risk of harm,” said Officer Harvey.

Decisions to execute forcible stops, like the use of spike strips, depend on multiple considerations as well.

"There are definitely many times when we won't use that because the risk involved would outweigh the reason for the stop or what we might be able to get the results out of that, but there are times where some of those forcible measures are very effective," Officer Harvey said.

CHP officials urge you to avoid any area where you know a vehicle pursuit is going on.  They also say if you see a police chase approaching your vehicle, it is the law to pull over to the right of the road immediately.