Police chases/fleeing drivers: Pursuit policy ‘rephrased’, not changed

Police will only chase fleeing drivers if there is a threat before the start of the pursuit and if there is a need for the driver to be apprehended immediately.

Police stress there has been no change to pursuit policy, but it has been rephrased so officers can follow it more consistently and accurately.

It comes after a leaked internal police email advised staff not to pursue fleeing drivers unless the threat “outweighs the risk of harm created by the pursuit”.

Figures show there were more than 30,000 police pursuits initiated between 2008 and 2019, resulting in hundreds of crashes and the deaths of 79 people.

A joint thematic review by the Independent Police Conduct Authority and police found the pursuit policy was sound, but wasn’t always being used as it should be.

The policy has been revised in line with the recommendation but there has been no change to criteria for starting a pursuit, a police spokesperson says.

“Fleeing driver events are highly volatile and high-risk so police is focused on ensuring that our practice is what the public expect and deserve – one that puts safety first and foremost.”

Figures show pursuits are most likely to happen overnight between 10pm and 6am, and crashes are more likely at night.

The majority of fleeing drivers are young males, many of whom are driving stolen cars.

The policy now reads:”A pursuit is only justified when the threat posed by the vehicle occupant(s) prior to the pursuit commencing, and the necessity to immediately apprehend the driver and/or passenger(s), outweighs the risk of harm created by the pursuit.”

Wellington road policing manager Inspector Wade Jennings suggested frontline police in the district should change their mindsets on pursuits, in an email obtained by Stuff.

The spokesperson says the rephrasing encourages staff to use the right mindset and approach towards pursuits.

“We want to ensure our officer’s mindsets are focused on their TENR (Threat-Exposure-Necessity-Response) risk assessment when they are making decisions,” they said.

“It is about reminding them to think about threat, exposure, necessity, and response before they even signal a driver to stop.

“And that the TENR decision-making process is continually used to guide all subsequent decisions.”

Fleeing police: The toll

Last year, the Herald compiled a list of many of those killed as a result of pursuits.

The list includes drivers who have fled police and died in crashes or who have been shot by police at the end of the pursuit.

Some names of the dead have been suppressed and cannot be published. Others have not been released.

February 2008, Timaru
Vianne Shead, 18, passenger

March 2008, East Tamaki
Ritchie Nehua Angell, 20, driver

May 2008, Dargaville
Dion Martin, 18, driver

July 2008, Featherston
Peter Kotsifakis, 18, driver of stolen car

July 2008, Titahi Bay
Sergeant Derek Wootton, 52, killed while attempting to lay road spikes

October 2008, Christchurch
David Fowler, 52, motorbike rider

March 2009, West Auckland
Robert Alaiula, 14, passenger of stolen car

December 2009, Palmerston North
Martyn Dillon, 22, stolen motorbike

January 2010, Wellington
Leith David Barnes, 28, motorbike

February 2010, Picton
Chase Glen Neary aka Buckton, 21, motorbike

February 2010, Murchison
Ricky Allan Forbes, passenger

March 2010, Puketaha
Israel Maki Tane Porter, 27, driver

May 2010, Palmerston North
Jason Luke Downes, 25, driver

June 2010, Christchurch
Troy Peter Mackay, 22, driver

July 2010, Christchurch
Tama Regan Dobson aka Wikiriwhi, 27, driver
Shannon Daoudihemira Smiler, 26, passenger
Karleane Marie Magon, 20, passenger

August 2010, Christchurch
Deidre Jordan, 67
Norm Fitt, 73
The friends died when their car was hit by fleeing driver Phillip Bannan at a red light

September 2010, Onehunga
Jaycheree Makakea, 20, passenger
Joseph Tawhai, 20, passenger

October 2010, Te Puke
Harley Kendrick Sean Wilson, 21, driver, stolen car
Michael Adam Kaui Keepa, 25, passenger

December 2010, Mangere
Api Kao Aue, 33, driver

December 2010, Flat Bush
Georgina Cherish Stone-Te Haara, 20, passenger in stolen vehicle

January 2011, Auckland Southern Motorway
Timoti Mohi, 15, driver of stolen car

April 2011, Taipa
Luke John Bowman Yates, 22, driver

July 2011, Pukekohe
Caine Christopher Burgess, 20, driver stolen car

September 2011, Hobsonville
Sina Naraghizadeh, 18, stolen car

October 2011, Manaia
Robert Seifert, 36, driver

July 2012, Gisborne
Dylan Kingi, 28, driver
Peter Bunyan, 27, passenger
Holly Gunn, 25, passenger

November 2012, Katikati
James Dean Miles, 18, stolen car

February 2013, Hamilton
Rocky Joe Kohatu Hepi, 17, stolen car

February 2013, Christchurch
Ethan Dallas Takitimu-McKenzie, 15, passenger in stolen car

May 2013, Mangere
Dominic Stehlin, 19, driver – unlicenced and forbidden
Viane Gaga, 18, passenger
Uesetini To’o To’o, 18, passenger
George Lomia, 20, passenger

November 2013, Wanganui
Ayla Nelson-Boyd, 21, driver

January 2014, Greymouth
Judd Hall, 26,passenger

August 2014, Papatoetoe
Steven Te Pania, passenger

July 2015, Hamilton
Nathan William Nolan, 29, motorbike rider

May 2015, Wanganui
Calum John Meyer, 25, driver

January 2016, Featherston
Hoani Korewha, 15, passenger in stolen car
Pacer Willacy-Scott, 15, passenger in stolen car

January 2016, Papatoetoe
Eden Nathan, 16, passenger in stolen car

May 2016, Porirua
Female – name suppressed , 21, passenger

August 2016, Rotorua
Moana Matthews, 17, driver

September 2016, Mt Roskill
Vinal Kavit Naidu, 31, motorbike rider

January 2017, Manukau
Eden Hoey, 32, driver

March 2017, Bulls
Hayden Tahau, 26, motorbike rider

April 2017, Mangere
Rahiri Iehu-Moetara, 27, passenger

July 2017, Mangere
Male, 57, motorbike rider

July 2017
Male, 33, details not published

August 2017
Shannon-Dean Ford, 39, driver

August 2017, Hamilton
Conrad Tuhua, 18, driver

September 2017, Hamilton
Shane Hohepa-Lennane, 27, passenger

September 2017, Gisborne
Ryan Glen Chrisp, 22, passenger

October 2017, St Lukes
Connor Talaimanu, 29, passenger
Sharina Storm Meuli, 25, passenger

October 2017, Otara
Morrocco Tai, 15, passenger in stolen car

March 2018, Nelson
Johnathon Tairakena, 25, driver
Phillip Jamie Stretch, 33, passenger
Carmen Marie Yanko, 53, innocent driver hit by fleeing car

May 2018, Palmerston North
Ihaia McPhee Maxwell, 15, driver, stolen car
Meadow James, 12, passenger

May 2018, Wellington
Bailey Patmore, 15, in boot of stolen car

May 2018, New Plymouth
Phillip Allan Taylor, 32, driver of stolen car

November 2018, Christchurch
Alexia Chrissy-Marie Noble-Hazelwood, 18, passenger

December 2018, Christchurch
Dennis Tunnicliffe, 25, driver
Renee Percy, 35, pregnant passenger

January 2019, Christchurch
Glen Mcallister, 16, believed to be driver of stolen car
Craig Mcallister, 13, believed to be passenger
Brooklyn Taylor, 13,believed to be passenger

February 2019
A man police had been trying to locate because of fears for his safety was killed after crashing into a truck while fleeing officers in Hawke’s Bay. During the pursuit the man crossed the centre line and collided with an oncoming truck.

The following people died during or following police pursuits but were not involved in vehicle crashes:

January 2009, Auckland
Halatau Naitoko, accidentally shot by police during pursuit of Stephen Hohepa McDonald

March 2011
Lachan Kelly-Tumarae, 19, shot by police following a pursuit

July 2013, Auckland Northern Motorway
Caleb Dean Henry, 20, shot by police following pursuit

September 2016, Auckland
Alaric Eccleston, 31 – jumped off Harbour Bridge during pursuit

March 2018, Puhoi
Jerrim Toms, 26, driver shot by police following pursuit (not a crash)

February 2019, Kawerau
Astin Cruz Hooper, 29, shot by police after pursuit

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