Points on police policy after Va. Beach pursuit

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — It started with an attempted robbery and a deadly shooting at one pharmacy. It ended with gunfire and a crash with a dangerous police pursuit along the way. And it all played out during the workday on busy city streets.

10 On Your Side has been asking about police pursuit policy and how it is designed to keep everyone else safe when something like this plays out. Officers are working to apprehend a suspect before more harm is caused, but sometimes the pursuit itself proves to be dangerous to everyone around too.

Virginia Beach wouldn’t comment on their policy on Monday. All they would say is that they needed to stop the suspect, a man they said had no respect for the safety of officers or the public. So they blocked off intersections and tried to minimize traffic in the area as much as possible.

WAVY.com checked with Hampton and Newport News police and found that there’s a State Code for pursuits. But each department has its own policy as well.

Take Newport News for instance — we viewed their policy, and right from the start it says, “The apprehension of a fleeing suspect is secondary in importance to the safety of the public.”

They have to make sure to use lights and sirens continuously. Officers are not supposed to engage in a chase if the dangers of the pursuit itself outweigh the apprehension of a suspect. Stationary barricades are only used as a last resort, and only officers who’ve completed training can employ the spike strips, like those used Thursday in Virginia Beach.

Over seven pages, the policy talks about the immediate and extreme risk that pursuits cause and the inherent risks to everyone involved and nearby.

Count on WAVY.com to keep you updated on any developments in this story.

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