LAPD pursuits near 5-year-high, and so are the number of collisions and third-party injuries

Rob Hayes Image
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
LAPD pursuits near 5-year-high, and so are collisions
Police pursuits are at a five year high, according to the LAPD, and the recent rise in chases may be due criminals being emboldened by a recent change in LAPD policy.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The number of police pursuits in Los Angeles may have dropped last year, but a new analysis of pursuit statistics show the city is still seeing dramatically higher numbers of the dangerous chases than in the recent past.

According to an LAPD pursuit report ordered by the Board of Police Commissioners, last year the department was involved in 971 pursuits, 348 of which resulted in at least one crash.

Those numbers are down slightly from 2021 when there were 990 pursuits and 366 related collisions, but show an unsettling contrast to 2018 when there were 665 pursuits and 280 collisions.

And LAPD's 2019 numbers were even lower: 651 pursuits and 260 collisions.

Surprisingly, law enforcement experts say the rise in police pursuits comes after the department began limiting the situations in which officers can chase suspects.

"Over the years, LAPD has brought its policy down," said former LAPD Capt. Paul Vernon, who currently works as a law enforcement consultant. "It hasn't eliminated it, and that would be a very, very bad idea to say 'No pursuits.'"

As pursuits have risen, the stats show crashes with injuries have also climbed. The number of third-party victims, people who are not involved in the pursuit, have taken the brunt of the chase-related collisions, suffering 496 injuries and nine deaths over the past five years.

The pursuit suspects accounted for 462 injuries and five deaths, while LAPD personnel suffered 60 injuries and no deaths during that time.

"The expectation of the average criminal out on the street is 'The police are not going to stop me. I have a better chance of not being stopped by the police. And so therefore, I am more emboldened to act,'" said Vernon.

Meantime, LAPD's pursuits are more dangerous than they are for other departments.

Eyewitness News found that two out of every five LAPD chases end with at least one collision. That is twice as high pursuits throughout California.