FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
Randy Sutton

Randy Sutton

Randy Sutton is a 33-year law enforcement veteran, a trainer, and the national spokesman for The American Council on Public Safety. He served 10 years with the Princeton (N.J.) Police Department and 23 years with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, retiring at the rank of lieutenant. He is an author who has published multiple books on law enforcement.
November 2015 (5)
October 2015 (1)
September 2015 (3)
August 2015 (3)
July 2015 (6)
June 2015 (3)
May 2015 (2)
April 2015 (3)
March 2015 (5)
February 2015 (1)
January 2015 (1)
December 2014 (9)
October 2014 (2)
September 2014 (2)
August 2014 (2)
July 2014 (1)
June 2014 (2)
May 2014 (2)
April 2014 (4)
March 2014 (2)
February 2014 (3)
January 2014 (3)
December 2013 (2)
November 2013 (2)
October 2013 (3)
September 2013 (5)
August 2013 (3)
July 2013 (3)
June 2013 (3)
May 2013 (4)
April 2013 (3)
March 2013 (5)
February 2013 (3)
January 2013 (3)
December 2012 (5)
November 2012 (2)
October 2012 (4)
September 2012 (2)
August 2012 (5)
July 2012 (4)
June 2012 (3)
May 2012 (5)
April 2012 (6)
March 2012 (5)
February 2012 (3)
January 2012 (5)
December 2011 (5)
November 2011 (3)
October 2011 (3)
September 2011 (3)
August 2011 (2)
July 2011 (2)
June 2011 (3)
May 2011 (4)
April 2011 (3)
March 2011 (5)
February 2011 (3)
January 2011 (3)
December 2010 (2)
November 2010 (4)
October 2010 (4)
September 2010 (5)
August 2010 (4)
July 2010 (4)
June 2010 (4)
May 2010 (4)
April 2010 (3)
March 2010 (3)
February 2010 (1)
January 2010 (3)
December 2009 (4)
November 2009 (4)
October 2009 (2)
September 2009 (3)
August 2009 (4)
July 2009 (5)
June 2009 (3)
May 2009 (5)
April 2009 (4)
March 2009 (4)
February 2009 (3)
January 2009 (2)
December 2008 (4)
November 2008 (3)
October 2008 (3)
September 2008 (3)
August 2008 (2)
July 2008 (3)
June 2008 (4)
May 2008 (5)
April 2008 (5)
March 2008 (4)
February 2008 (5)
January 2008 (3)
December 2007 (2)
November 2007 (5)
October 2007 (4)
September 2007 (4)
August 2007 (5)
July 2007 (4)
June 2007 (4)
May 2007 (5)

Foot Pursuits: A Runaway Policy?

Has the L.A. Sheriff's Department's stance on foot pursuits actually changed, and what might that mean for deputies?

March 18, 2010  |  by - Also by this author

Last month, it made national headlines: "L.A. County Sheriff's Department Wants Its Deputies to Stop Chasing Armed Suspects."

Or so many words to that effect.

When various news outlets trumpeted Sheriff Leroy Baca's "newest policy," they did so with the understanding that patrol deputies in L.A. County would no longer be chasing down suspects known or presumed to be armed. Rather, deputies were to pull up short and coordinate resources so as to effect a containment of the suspect(s).

The catalyst for this change was a spike in deputy-involved shootings: a jump to 16 deputy-involved shootings from nine the year before.

"You don't have to go barreling in on every case and then find yourself in a position where you have no choice but to use your gun," proclaimed Sheriff Baca as he debuted a new 30-page booklet, "Split second decision: The dynamics of the chase in today's society."

The booklet, featuring eight different scenarios involving armed or possibly armed suspects, certainly offers some valid food for thought when it comes to the prospect of chasing bad guys. But something about the way this information was being presented - and the implications of its presentation - concerned me. What did it all really mean?

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has always urged caution regarding foot pursuits. To further drive their points home, they showed pictures illustrating the gory aftermaths of incidents that had claimed the lives of Lawrence Lavieri, Thomas Pohlman, and other deputies who'd initiated ill-fated one-man foot pursuits.

In hoping to deter other deputies from suffering similar fates, the instructors took pains to let students know that sometimes the smarter option was not to chase. One had to look at the totality of the circumstances, and perform a quick cost-benefit analysis. Among the salient points to be considered:

  • What was the guy wanted for? (Was it worth pursuing?)
  • Where were you chasing him? (Were you behind enemy lines?)
  • Could you catch up with the guy?
  • What were you going to do if you did catch him? (Would you be tactically and physically in a position to get and retain the upper hand?)

The aforementioned cautionary parables laid out a pretty good case for taking such things into consideration.

Throughout, the impetus for the rhetoric seemed to be nothing more than genuine concern for the deputy's welfare rather than anything else.

But the quotes attributed to LASD watchdog Michael Gennaco surrounding the February 18 press release conveyed a different impression. In a quote from the LA Times coverage of the announcement, Gennaco, head of the Office of Independent Review, called the policy change "a step forward."

"It's intended to teach deputies to avoid gunfights," Gennaco said. "It provides guidance to deputies, and it sets a new bar for departmental expectations of performance."

What exactly was this "new bar" for performance? How was one to be evaluated against it? And was this really a new policy, something that'd been issued as a clear-cut directive for deputies to follow? Or merely a brochure containing food for thought?

The more I saw and read and heard of the coverage, the more it sounded like the department was more concerned with the prospect of killing some moronic unarmed suspect whose actions would virtually guarantee his getting shot at than it was with fulfilling its responsibilities to the public. It didn't make sense that the catalyst should be concern for deputies whose track record suggested that they were getting the upper hand in shootings.

Be the first to comment on this story

POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Blog Posts

Prepare for the Battles to Come
When these attacks occur, America’s first responders, police, fire, and medical teams will...

Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
It's easy! Just fill in the form below and click the red button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.
First Name:
Last Name:
Zip Code:
We respect your privacy. Please let us know if the address provided is your home, as your RANK / AGENCY will not be included on the mailing label.
E-mail Address:

Police Magazine