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DL revises policy on police pursuit

The Detroit Lakes City Council passed a revised policy Tuesday night regarding police pursuit guidelines.

The policy allows Detroit Lakes police officers to pursue persons in a vehicle who are fleeing officers "in a narrowly regulated manner in an effort to ensure that the safety of all persons involved in or affected by a police pursuit is of primary importance," it reads.

The policy explains that police officers are only allowed to engage in a chase when the officer has a "reasonable and lawful basis" according to state law. After the fleeing driver is given the signal to stop and continues on, the officer can proceed with the chase but must use discretion.

Officers have 17 factors to determine before engaging in the pursuit including the seriousness of the observed offense, the ability to locate the driver later without the pursuit, density of traffic and pedestrians, the level of assistance available and the driving skills of the officer.

Once in pursuit, the Detroit Lakes officer must contact the Becker County Sheriff's Dispatch.

Vehicle contact is authorized if the officer determines "the foreseeable risks of serious personal injury to third parties created by the continued pursuit outweigh the foreseeable risk of injury for the proposed vehicle contact."

Factors to consider include potential victims, speed, traffic conditions, suspect's driving conduct and the length of pursuit.

If it's determined that vehicle contact is a must, there are several options for officers. including Pursuit Intervention Technique, deliberate ramming of the car, stationary roadblocks, moving roadblocks and stop sticks.

"Officers must continually evaluate the pursuit as it progresses to determine whether the pursuit should be continued or terminated," the policy says.

According to the policy, the pursuit will be terminated if the danger outweighs the apprehension, location is no longer known or if it is ordered to be terminated by the supervisor. Officers are still allowed to follow the vehicle at a safe speed or reinitiate the chase later.

After the pursuit, a notice of the pursuit must be filed with the Commissioner of Public Safety.

The policy revision was taken in part to help officers stop drivers suffering from a medical condition, such as a diabetic reaction, in which victims sometimes continue driving and hitting vehicles and objects until their vehicle is physically stopped.