Why drivers pursued by the police keep driving given that the odds of escape are so slim

What are the chances of escape? A 1998 report listed a 83% success rate (Baltimore, measured 1995-6), and a 91% success rate (Miami-Dade, measured 1996) Alpert, Helicopters in Pursuit Operations, National Institute of Justice Research in Action, Aug 1998. A more comprehensive 2008 report lists "Suspect eludes the police" at 17.9% Police Pursuits in an Age of Innovation and Reform, The IACP Police Pursuit Database. Conclusion: the chances of escape are not great, but maybe not "slim".

Why flee?

  1. Something has triggered the fight-or-flight response to choose flight.
  2. The driver has a very short time horizon and isn't deterred by the possibility of capture later.
  3. They are up for "3 strikes" and the certainty of returning to prison makes the possibility of escape, even a slim one, attractive.
  4. There is a very high cost of returning to prison to avoid being killed by a gang (eg, for those who failed to help the gang while out of prison).
  5. They have incriminating evidence in the car and need time to dispose of it.
  6. They are showing off (common among gang members).
  7. There is a very low cost of returning to prison (because of gang support once inside), so there is little consequence for breaking laws trying to escape.
  8. They are in some alternate reality (drugs, alcohol, psychosis, acute crisis), or have limited cognitive abilities.
  9. For them, to give up prematurely is a sign of weakness.

Author: Steven Bagley

Date: 2017-05-29 Mon