In January 2014, Phoenix police asked ASU researchers to develop a plan for data collection on officer-involved shootings, to help identify patterns in what can be polarizing events for a community.
The Phoenix Police Department has now joined a number of agencies around the country that are considering or have already penned a policy dictating how officers should react when faced with a fleeing suspect. The Phoenix department, like other Valley agencies, currently has no written guidelines of the sort, reports azcentral.com.
Researchers and a team of Phoenix police employees have recommended the agency look to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which has introduced a policy that restricts how and when an officer should engage in a foot pursuit.
While the policy never outright bans pursuits in the presence of certain dangerous elements, it urges officers to consistently reassess a dynamic, fluid situation, and to place the safety of the public and personnel as a top priority.
It discourages officers from solo pursuits and from giving chase if they believe the subject is armed. Alternatives for apprehension should be taken into consideration, as well as the severity of the suspected crime.
The tactics go hand in hand with a broader, nationwide push to train police in "de-escalation" techniques that could help prevent situations that could justifiably call for the use of deadly force.
But some police supporters say overly codifying police work may leave officers feeling hamstrung to the point that it affects their crime-fighting priorities.
"We're very pro-training and education," said Ken Crane, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association. "But let's not get officers so over-encumbered by rules that they say, 'I'm not even going to go after him — it's not even worth it.' "