Escambia Sheriff’s Office Changes Pursuit Policy

April 13, 2013

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office has made changes to its pursuit policy following a pursuit April 5 that wound for miles, causing a minor wreck on Highway 29 and finally ending with a suspect taken into custody near Pine Forest High School.

“In reviewing the tapes of the pursuit, we found several discrepancies not only with existing policy, but policies not being in line with those across the rest of the nation,” Sheriff David Morgan said.

Under the new policy, a supervisor must approve a deputy’s pursuit only in extreme circumstances and with the same care as if he or she were justifying the use of deadly force while endangering innocent lives.

“Such authorization must be limited to matters so serious and exigent that the need to immediately capture or kill the suspect would warrant an authorization to use of a firearm against a suspect located in a crowd of innocent bystanders,” the new policy states.  “The supervisor must also be reasonably certain that the public safety need to immediately capture or kill the suspect is so grave that the supervisor is willing to sacrifice the lives of innocent civilians, deputies, and the suspect.   If there is any doubt whether the circumstances and evidence make the supervisor reasonably certain of the propriety of the pursuit, the pursuit must not be authorized and any ongoing pursuit must be cancelled.”

The department’s previous policy allowed the safe and reasonable pursuit suspects that had committed, or tried to commit, a forcible felony.

The policy change was made, Morgan said, “to stay in step with the rest of Florida and the nation at large”. The new policy will be reviewed with more changes forthcoming, he said.

To read more about the April 5 chase that led to pursuit policy changes at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, click here.

Pictured top and bottom: The end of a high speed pursuit April 5 on Longleaf Drive. file photos, click to enlarge.


24 Responses to “Escambia Sheriff’s Office Changes Pursuit Policy”

  1. Dennis HE Wiggins on April 15th, 2013 2:55 pm

    Re: Lawman

    First, I never said I agree with the SCOTUS. I just wrote what they said.

    Secondly, I will call 911 post haste . . . AFTER I protect my family. Yes, I believe in, and exercise daily, my 2d Amendment RIGHT. I am thankful Florida has the Castle Doctrine AND the Stand Your Ground Law! NO ONE should have to retreat when (s)he has a legal right to be where (s)he is. Molon labe!

  2. Tom on April 15th, 2013 12:08 pm

    Get rid of the ambulance chasing lawyers. The county is afraid of a law suit !! So now the deputy can not pursue a suspect, what happens when that suspect kills some innocent person in the county. The county gets sued anyway…………The bosses in the county need to grow a pair and let these guys do their job!!

  3. Kid Joe on April 14th, 2013 9:50 pm

    Here is the policy so there is no confusion to what is says:

    GO 525 Emergency Response and Pursuit regarding pursuits is amended as follows:

    I am concerned with the supervision now being exercised over high-speed, inherently dangerous pursuits of criminal suspects. Authorization of such a pursuit always places innocent lives in danger. Placing innocent, uninvolved Escambia County citizens at risk of death is unacceptable unless there is a solid articulable justification of a public safety need that is so urgent and immediate that it justifies risking innocent lives, not to mention to lives of the suspect(s) and our personnel.

    Authorization of any high-speed pursuit is to be limited to extreme circumstances
    precisely because it is an authorization to use deadly force in circumstances where innocent lives are placed at risk. Such authorization must be limited to matters so serious and exigent that the need to immediately capture or kill the suspect would warrant an authorization to use of a firearm against a suspect located in a crowd of innocent bystanders. Such a high level of officer force should never be authorized based upon sketchy or incomplete facts; to the contrary, the supervisor must have evidence sufficient to make the supervisor reasonably certain that a crime involving great bodily harm has been committed or commission of such a crime is imminent AND that the suspect is the person who committed the crime. The supervisor must also be reasonably certain that the public safety need to immediately capture or kill the suspect is so grave that the supervisor is willing to sacrifice the lives of innocent civilians, deputies, and the suspect. If there is any doubt whether the circumstances and evidence make the supervisor reasonably certain of the propriety of the pursuit, the pursuit must not be authorized and any ongoing pursuit must be cancelled.

    Supervisors WILL NOT authorize the initiation or continuation of a pursuit un less they are reasonably certain that they can justify the use of deadly force in a circumstance that also endangers innocent lives.

    Deputies WILL NOT pursue unless authorized by a supervisor, and are authorized to terminate any pursuit if the deputy cannot justify the use of deadly force in a circumstance that endangers innocent lives.

    This order supersedes the current pursuit policy and will remain in effect until
    rescinded . I do not anticipate rescinding this order until we complete a review of our pursuit policy and until I am satisfied that all supervisors are adequately trained on the revised ECSO pursuit policy. In addition to publication by email to all sworn officers, this Emergency Interim General Order will be placed in Power DMS and must be reviewed and signed by all sworn law enforcement officers. Supervisors or deputies who violate this Emergency Interim General Order are subject to discipline, up to and including termination from employment.”

  4. thesheriffwasneveracop on April 14th, 2013 6:44 pm

    What do you expect from the top cop in Escambia County. Morgan has never been behind the wheel of a patrol car. During the pursuit that changed the policy ECSO deputies had information that the suspect was armed with an AK-47. I’m glad they chased; they could of stopped a future mass murder in one of our schools. Its ridiculous that a Deputy on the north end of the county can not chase a violent dangerous criminal at 3:00 a.m. Once again it is us on the north end of the county that suffer.

  5. David on April 14th, 2013 3:05 pm

    What the heck? We need Joe Arpaio to come teach Morgan a few things!

    Law Enforcement standing down and backing down to crime?

    I never thought Id see this day, especially here in Pensacola. Wow.

    It truely is over now citizens. What a crock!

    What happened to the USA? Shame on our federal government, shame on political correctness, shame on liability.

    Shame on collectivism and shame on any American who thinks this is okay. You are weak!

  6. Keith on April 14th, 2013 12:03 pm

    In other words…………We innocent citizens are not going to be allowed (what?) to protect our lives, our families lives, or our property because POTUS thinks we don’t need guns……….. and then when we do call for assistance from LEO, they won’t be able to chase you the criminal, so don’t worry Mr. criminal you can rob us, run, and hide. Won’t nothing happen to you!! We want to take care of our career criminals. We don’t want you to be in a chain gang, and we want you very comfortable if you should happen to go to prison. You the criminal, have it much better than us the law abiding tax paying citizen.

  7. Biscuit on April 14th, 2013 11:11 am

    From the Whitehouse, down to the outhouse, it’s as messed up as a chickensoup sandwich. The dirtbags has got to be dealt with now! Not next week! Train the LEO to be more safe, but let them pursue!

  8. Mike O. on April 13th, 2013 6:28 pm

    And lets remember that first reports were of this guy being armed with an AK47 and a handgun. It’s not like the chase started because he threw trash out his window. Everyone wants to cry about the “what if’s or what could have’s”. At least this guys was caught and no major injuries or death occurred. I am all for what ever it takes and at all costs. It has been my experience that people don’t seem to care about lights and sirens and never move out of the way, even if it is ambulances and firetrucks. If you don’t move, well, you have what’s coming to you. That’s my opinion on the matter. This whole country has gone way too soft if you ask me.

  9. Mike O. on April 13th, 2013 6:24 pm

    Looks like a life of crime isn’t going to be so bad, especially if all one has to do is jump in a car a and flee. Seems like a safe bet to me. No choppers and no chasing. Ahh, the life of crime gets sweeter every day here in Escambia County. Thanks, Sheriff Morgan, for being so stupid. We feel safer already with your awesome ideas! You might as well just have all your deputies just start writing parking tickets instead of being out on patrol.

    Thank goodness for concealed carry permits.

  10. Lawman on April 13th, 2013 6:10 pm

    Ref: wiggins comment.
    It take lawyers and judges years to come up with case law. We are talking about reality now. If a person breaks into your house and take your family hostage who are you going to call? Probably 911 to get law enforcement to protect and get your family safely out. Make sure you give the perpetrator a copy of your case law and hope that he or she will understand and turn around or maybe apologize for doing it to you. People you need to understand that law enforcement officers don’t look forward to chasing anyone. There are dangers to everyone involved including the officers. The criminals set the tone for this. Law enforcement has to react. With these policies in place I just pray that your family is not a victim of a horrible crime. If the LEO don’t witness it you will just get a incident report. Good luck citizens.

  11. David Huie Green on April 13th, 2013 5:25 pm

    I would imagine an officer could drive some distance behind a suspect while awaiting permission to persue, just not with lights and sounds. And, in fact, the suspect might park ere persuit were needed. Further, they could call in location, description, direction for other officers ahead of the suspect to contemplate.

    David for drones to follow from overhead

  12. Dennis HE Wiggins on April 13th, 2013 4:26 pm

    The only duty law enforcement has is to protect society as a whole. They are not constitutionally bound to protect individuals. . . . Or so says the SCOTUS. See the following links for the bigger picture:

  13. Tina on April 13th, 2013 12:06 pm

    HOW RIDICULOUS! Get off the road when you see a police officer. We trust them to carry guns and get paid trust them to make chase when necessary. Treating an officer like a child that needs permission from mommy and daddy to give permission before they make a decision is absurd. Hey there is a criminal that may have participated in drive by shootings….oh wait let me call and get permission to chase…..okay I will wait one more minute for approval….oh wait there is a child down 5 year old shot in a driveby…oh wait that was the guy the officer wanted to chase and arrest. HOW RIDICULOUS! Power trips are ridiculous and people in the higher offices are getting to the point of micromanaging and not allowing people to think…why hire them if they cannot be trusted to think.

  14. Jack on April 13th, 2013 12:02 pm

    So I guess you guys that think pursuits aren’t necessary wouldn’t want us to chase a suspect that just raped one of your kids, robbed you at gun point, kicked your door in and took your belongings that you’ve worked so hard for, or drove by your house and sprayed it with a firearm? Pursuits are dangerous but they also send a message to criminals that Leo’s aren’t afraid of them and that no matter how hard they try to get away we won’t stop chasing them. If they all know they can just run and we won’t chase they’ll never stop running.

  15. Safebear on April 13th, 2013 8:15 am

    A lot of pursuits are not needed because the crime they are being stopped for is just not that dangerous. High speed pursuits are just not safe for anyone – especially those innocent people who don’t know about it until they are in the middle of it.

    However, there is new technology out there where LEO can fire a “tracker” that sticks to the suspect vehicle and from there it’s all up to GPS. LEO just sits back and watches until they stop and then there is no pursuit but there is an arrest. I think Austin, TX is using that now.

    I agree the bad guy could pry the device off the car but by the time they stopped and did it, LEO would probably be on top of them making the arrest.

  16. Adam on April 13th, 2013 8:02 am

    Leroy, I witnessed the chase on Michigan Ave. It was a very dangerous situation for the innocents. Absolutely uncalled for.

  17. Jane on April 13th, 2013 7:44 am

    The rest of the states use this policy and I guess it is time for us to enforce the same laws that apply everywhere else.

  18. poplardell on April 13th, 2013 7:35 am

    At least now there will not be so many DUI drivers caught. They will be sober by the next day, reporting their vehicle stolen.

    Pros and Cons or LEOS N CRIMINALS.

    Good luck LEOS and THANKS!!!

  19. seen it on April 13th, 2013 7:27 am

    i wish the police officers would be a better example of driving the speed limit when not pursuing someone

  20. M on April 13th, 2013 7:10 am

    Wow, what a policy; All one has to do is decide not to stop for law enforcement, and they get a free pass. If we are not gonna chase em, why do we keep buying law enforcement these gas guzzling suv’s and full size sedans? Lets put law enforcement in a Prius and let them wave a fond farewell and good luck to the criminals as they speed by.

  21. Leroy on April 13th, 2013 6:15 am

    How much of this has to do with lawsuits. Several months ago a woman was severely injured on Michigan during a high speed chase, that should not have happened, the charges against the individual were not that serious, yet a number of patrol cars were involved. To top it all off some deputies driving habits are the worst in town. It seems they feel free to speed, not use turn signals, weave in an out of traffic and much more.

  22. Smart way on April 13th, 2013 5:51 am

    Sorry adrenaline junkies,the cool calm heads have won.The public is now actually safer.Smart police work will find the criminals in a safer way for both the LEO,s and the public.Just like the shooting at oak wood terrace the other day,got,em the next day no high speed chase.LEO,s have a dangerous enough job without having to chased down criminals for crimes that they can easy be picked up later for.Thank you LEO,s for doing it the smart way.

  23. Vice Security on April 13th, 2013 5:19 am

    It might be time to vote Morgan out and get a real cop in the top spot. No sense in running now they won’t even try. What fun is that.

  24. Patriot on April 13th, 2013 1:01 am

    Quoting a NorthEscambia article about ECSO pusuit policy from 2010,

    “We are very restrictive in our pursuit policy,” said Commander Eric Haines of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. “We probably have the strictest policy in the area.”

    That story can be read here:

    Now however, the sheriff says the policies are not in line with the rest of the nation.
    What??? Our county has the strictest policy in the area, but it needs to be tightened more?
    Look at the policies in neighboring Alabama. Look at Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia. While you’re at it, see what the Supreme Court has to say about agency liability (or lack thereof) when pursuing felons. Escambia County is NOT getting “in line” with the rest of the nation. We are the county where folks know that all they have to do is “stomp on it” and they get a free pass.
    It seems as though actually catching criminals is not a priority here. I’m no expert, but I would think catching the folks who are committing crimes would be somewhere near the top of the “to do” list for Cops.

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