Vehicles Not to Steal

For years, communities have searched for a safe alternative to reduce the number of police vehicle pursuits. Injuries to officers, citizens, and the civil litigation involved in these incidents make pursuits an extremely dangerous endeavor.

Recently, On-Star was effectively used by police in California to halt the pursuit of a stolen Chevy Tahoe.

The vehicle's owner reported his SUV stolen, that it had On-Star capabilities, and authorities were able to work through the vehicle monitoring company so that the acceleration capability of the stolen vehicle was shut-off. With no means to continue the high-speed chase, the offender bailed out on foot and was apprehended by officers.

In an informative article over at Police One, Captain Travis Yates summarizes the findings of a pioneer in pursuit research, Geoffrey Alpert (University of South Carolina).

Two points of interest are:

(Yates) "The compiled research suggests that the odds of a negative outcome in police pursuits were 30 percent...Approximately one-third of police pursuits end in a collision, injury or property damage."

(Me) If On-Star technology is only able to reduce this total by a small percentage, it will go a long way in reducing the estimated 300 pursuit related deaths annually.

(Yates) "The average length of the pursuit was 5.5 minutes and the data suggest what many of us already know. The longer a pursuit continues, the better chance it will end with a negative outcome."

(Me) Initiating strategies like On-Star take time (after everyone that needs to be contacted and approvals are gained). Strictly citing the "average" length of a pursuit (as Yates does) does not account for outliers that could impact the total, and thus makes does not make this statistic useful.

For instance, if 10 pursuits last 60 seconds and one pursuit lasted 2 hours, the average time of the 11 pursuits is over 11 minutes long. But is 11 minutes long representative of the 11 pursuits? Of course not.

Yates should include "median" length in time of the pursuits (that was included in Alpert's research) so as better understand that most police pursuits are short in duration (in my previous example the median time of the 11 pursuits would be 60 seconds).
In sum, it is unclear how many pursuits that On-Star will be able to assist police with (M.O., time involved, ability to acquire permissions, etc.), but this development of a safe option for ending one of law enforcement's most deadly situations is nothing short of amazing for the public and the law enforcement community.


Stephanie Faris said...

About two months ago, a co-worker of mine was killed at an intersection by a drunk driver being pursued by police. He was in his 60s, a married man with children and grandchildren. A great person. If you don't mind, I'd love to blog about this too at a future date. I'll link to your blog. It'll probably be in November sometime because I have a blog surplus right now!

angelcel said...

I've never heard of this device before but it sounds fantastic!

Natalie said...

I agree! It actually reminds me of the movie Minority Report in which the vehicle was able to completely shut down for police to arrive and apprehend.

Sometimes Sci-fi gives us glimpses of the future! Well, almost. I don't think we'll be traveling on the U.S.S. Enterprises anytime soon or battling Darth Vader. It'd be cool, though!

Slamdunk said...

No problem Stephanie--thanks.