Below is Memphis Police Department's policy concerning authorized and unauthorized pursuits.
Authorized Vehicle Pursuits
A. Vehicle pursuits are authorized only when an officer has probable cause to believe that one or more occupants of a fleeing vehicle have committed a Violent Felony. In those cases, the officer initiating the pursuit must activate lights and siren, then immediately provide the dispatcher with the following information: (41.2.2.b)
1. Unit number of officer requesting authorization to initiate pursuit
2. Location and direction of travel
3. Speed of vehicles involved
4. Description of suspect(s) and suspect vehicle
5. Applicable criminal charge(s) involving the suspect(s)
6. Any other pertinent information, i.e., weapons, hostages, identity of person, etc.
B. Authorization to pursue must be obtained from a supervisor at the rank of Lieutenant or above within one minute of pursuit origination or the pursuit must be terminated by the officer.
Vehicle Pursuits Prohibited:
Vehicle pursuits will be strictly prohibited under the following circumstances:
When the officer knows that the suspect is wanted only for a traffic violation, a misdemeanor, or a non‑violent felony.
When the officer has failed to obtain supervisory approval within one minute of pursuit origination.
When the pursuit has reached an unacceptable level, as defined in Section II of this policy. (41.2.2.a)
When the officer fails to activate audible (siren) and visual (blue lights) signals upon initiation of a pursuit.
When the pursuing police vehicle(s) is occupied by anyone other than a commissioned police officer.
When the officer has reason to believe that his/her police vehicle is mechanically defective or otherwise unsafe for pursuit or emergency response.
Inter-jurisdictional Pursuits (41.2.2.i)
Pursuits Leaving the City of Memphis. Pursuits will not continue outside of the boundaries of Memphis, Tennessee unless there is probable cause to believe that the individual being pursued poses a threat of death or serious bodily injury to others if not immediately apprehended. When it is likely that a pursuit will continue into a neighboring jurisdiction, the primary unit will notify dispatch of the jurisdiction being entered, request assistance from that jurisdiction and update critical information to the dispatcher. As soon as practical, after a pursuit has left the Memphis City limits, dispatch and officers will relinquish primary responsibility for the pursuit to the agency having jurisdiction. When at least two vehicles from the other jurisdiction have joined the pursuit, MPD primary and secondary units will discontinue their pursuit, unless authorized by a Supervisor to continue the pursuit. MPD units will stand by at a designated location until notified by the dispatcher to proceed to the termination point (if the suspect has been apprehended).
Pursuits entering the boundaries of Memphis, Tennessee from another jurisdiction.
Officers shall not become involved in another agency's pursuit unless there is probable cause to believe that the individual being pursued poses a threat of death or serious bodily injury to others if not immediately apprehended. A supervisor must specifically authorize engaging in the pursuit. In these instances, all Departmental pursuit policies are in effect.
When a pursuit enters our jurisdiction, the supervisor shall request the critical information regarding the pursuit from the dispatcher. The supervisor shall determine if the pursuit is in conformance with MPD policy and shall provide appropriate direction to the units. If the outside agency's pursuit does not meet the minimum pursuit guidelines in this policy, MPD officers are prohibited from engaging in the pursuit.
Officers shall not leave the boundaries of Memphis, Tennessee to assist in a pursuit not originating within the boundaries of Memphis.
A. Only emergency response vehicles will participate in vehicle pursuits. The emergency equipment (blue lights and siren) must be activated, not only to warn the pursued, but also to protect the officers and others on or near the roadways. Emergency response vehicles will notify the supervisor monitoring the pursuit that they are in pursuit in an unmarked vehicle. Upon availability of a marked vehicle, the unmarked vehicle will become the secondary unit. If a second marked vehicle becomes available the unmarked vehicle will abandon the pursuit and proceed to the termination point of the pursuit if the suspect is apprehended. (41.2.2.d)
B. Number of Police Units Participating: The pursuit shall be limited to the primary unit and a secondary unit. The primary unit is the police vehicle initiating the pursuit. The secondary unit is the second police vehicle joining the pursuit behind the primary unit. All other units shall stay clear of the pursuit. (41.2.2.d)
EXCEPTION: # 1 If an officer in a special purpose vehicle initiates the pursuit, he or she shall abandon the pursuit when a marked patrol unit joins the pursuit. The officer in the special purpose vehicle shall proceed to the termination point of the pursuit if the suspect is apprehended.
EXCEPTION: # 2 See VIII, F. Helicopter Assistance.
C. Primary Unit: The first responsibility of the unit initiating the pursuit (primary unit) is the apprehension of the suspects without unnecessary danger to themselves or other persons. Unless relieved by a supervisor, the officer in the primary unit shall be responsible for the broadcasting of the progress of the pursuit, controlling the pursuit tactics, and deciding if the pursuit should be abandoned. If the primary unit is unable to continue the pursuit, the secondary unit shall become the primary unit. (41.2.2.b, .c)
D. Secondary Unit: Officers in the secondary unit shall make the necessary notifications, assuring the dispatcher that no additional units join the pursuit. (41.2.2.c)
E. Pursuit Driving Tactics:
1. There shall be no paralleling of the pursuit route, unless the pursuit passes through a unit's assigned area. The paralleling unit shall not be operated under emergency conditions (blue lights and siren).
2. The primary and secondary units shall be the only units operating under emergency conditions (blue lights and siren), unless other units are assigned to the pursuit by the Supervisor monitoring the pursuit.
3. There shall be no caravanning of units paralleling the pursuit or attempting to join the pursuit.
4. Officers involved in a pursuit shall not attempt to pass other units, unless requested to do so by the primary unit.
5. In vehicle pursuits, the use of any of the following actions by an officer is prohibited:
Using the police vehicle as a battering ram to force the vehicle being pursued to stop.
Pulling alongside the vehicle in an effort to force the vehicle over, or pulling alongside the vehicle for any other reason.
Using a police vehicle to block the path of a vehicle being pursued.
Driving at unsafe speeds and violating traffic laws in order to join a pursuit when the officer's location is such a distance from the pursuit to make such an attempt impractical and unsafe. (41.2.2.g)