Polk County, Florida- Citizens and travelers beware                          Home
Polk County Florida Sheriff's Col. Grady Judd, quoted in a Orlando Sentinel article about Central Florida pursuit policy justified his agency's wide-open pursuit policy by saying that the uniqueness of each pursuit situation requires that deputies be free to make decisions on a case by case basis. A specific example stated by Col. Judd, "There are misdemeanors, such as an outrageously drunk person driving a 3,500 pound missile, that are much more dangerous than some severe felons," demonstrates just how far from reality they are. To expect a drunk driver, already mentally and physically impaired to act reasonably when being pursued ignores the deadly reality of the situation. Drunk drivers are much more likely to continue to flee and pursuing them virtually assures that the pursuit will end in a crash, often resulting in deaths or injuries to police officers and innocent civilians. Furthermore, to assert that a sheriff's deputy, in the heat of an vehicle apprehension gone bad, is in a position to make all of the life or death decisions required in pursuit decision-making is sheer madness. At a time when police trainers teach police officers to breathe deeply to counter the effects of adrenaline and the resulting "tunnel vision" it causes, and to suppress the "contempt-of-cop" mindset, Polk County expects its deputies to consider all of the consequences of the pursuit they are about to undertake. It is a disaster waiting to happen. What may politically pass for a tough "law and order" attitude is nothing more than a careless disregard for public safety. Most of the work has already been done. Volumes of research, and decades of data collecting, have been done that dictate strategies that maximize the safety of the public, and those involved in pursuits, and allow the apprehension of dangerous criminals. To put an excited deputy in the position of having to reinvent the wheel each and every time he is faced with a pursue/no pursue situation borders on malfeasance and the citizens of Polk County, and those who travel there, have a real reason for concern.

James Phillips
8/16/03
Article Links:
Polk County, Florida pursuit policy
Polk County Sheriff's Office


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