Columbus Police Chief Tony Carleton has rewritten the Mississippi department’s pursuit policy to allow shift supervisors to decide if officers are to chase a suspect if he flees.
Previously, officers were instructed not to chase a suspect if he fled.
Whether to pursue a suspect depends on the severity of the alleged crime, said Carleton, who has been chief since June.
“It’s up to the supervisor to make that call,” Carleton told The Commercial Dispatch. “They’re the ones that can tell whether someone needs to be chased or not.
“We’re not going to endanger the public by chasing misdemeanor-type stuff. If it’s a felony and someone that we know has already committed a felony or already endangered the public, then we might chase them. But again, it’s up to the supervisor.”
The Aberdeen Police Department, the Starkville Police Department, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department, Clay County Sheriff’s Department and Monroe County Sheriff’s Department have similar policies.
Officials with the Starkville Police Department said several factors – the nature of the crime, weather conditions and public safety – come into play when deciding whether to pursue a suspect.
Aberdeen Police Chief Henry Randle said his officers will chase a suspect to the county line and then turn the pursuit over to another agency. Before the pursuit begins, however, his officers must first have permission from the shift supervisor.
Like Carleton, Randle said whether to pursue depends on why the suspect fled. However, the department will pursue all felony suspects, he said.
“We’re not going to pursue someone over a missing taillight,” Randle said.
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