GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It's not uncommon to hear about a police chase right here in South Mississippi. Just this weekend, there were two different chases, one involving Jackson County Sheriff's Deputies and the other Mississippi Highway Patrol. Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson said their policies and procedures are similar across the board when it comes to chases.
"Usually, pursuits start out with the very slightest traffic infractions," said Peterson.
Those chases can get dangerous, oftentimes ending with crashes, but Peterson said authorities never intentionally want to put the public in danger.
"If they are putting themselves in harm's way or they're putting the public in imminent danger, then we discontinue the pursuit. Most of the time, we discontinue pursuits on safety, and it's 100 percent of safety," said Peterson.
It is important to know why the suspect may be fleeing when police try to make an initial traffic stop and the driver won't yield to their signals. Peterson said dispatch immediately runs their tags to gain information about the car's owner.
"We've seen it to where they got traffic tickets they haven't paid, very very minute stuff, but there's always that chance that they've got a body in the back of their trunk. So, you don't know who you're chasing," said Peterson.
When the driver starts reaching a high rate of speed, Peterson said the sheriff's department usually makes the call to end the chase.
"When you get up to very high rates of speed, there's no sense in chasing that person. Somebody's going to get hurt. They're going to kill themselves, or you're going to get hurt chasing them," said Peterson.
While law enforcement works to keep citizens safe, Peterson adds that drivers can help by always moving over to the right lane to allow emergency personnel to pass on the left.
Peterson said the only time they won't discontinue a pursuit is when they're chasing a fleeing felon. The Harrison County Sheriff's Department has lead four chases so far this year.