Florida Highway Patrol relaxes chase policy, giving troopers more flexibility

Florida Highway Patrol's new pursuit policy gives troopers more flexibility to hit the gas and go after suspected bad guys.

For example, the previous policy approved in 2022 limited pursuits to felony offenses, reckless driving, or DUI. In bold, it also noted all other pursuits are prohibited.

The new policy went into effect almost two weeks ago. It nixed the previous language - noting state troopers can start a chase as soon as someone attempts to run and as long as they determine it's appropriate.

That leniency differs from recent national recommendations. A 2023 report by the Police Executive Research Forum urged agencies to limit chases because of the dangers to bystanders, suspects, and officers.

"It's been 23 years now, but it feels like yesterday," said Thomas Gleason.

Thomas Gleason spent 30 years in law enforcement. He conducted chases, taught classes on chase safety, and reviewed policy. He says the death of his son during a chase shifts his view.

"Left the road at 80 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour speed zone," said Gleason. "Brought me back to importance of how dangerous it is to operate a motor vehicle."


Gleason says less restrictive chase policies raise concerns because officers have more gray areas to make split-second decisions under stressful circumstances.

He believes that could mean more dangers for law enforcement and the public.

"We need to enforce the law, but we need to enforce it in a way that we don't cause more risk to the public we serve," said Gleason.

Other changes include updating language for allowed speed limits during chases, allowing troopers on motorcycles to engage in pursuits, and when troopers are allowed to drive on the wrong side of the road during a chase.

The new guidance offers some flexibility that some of the local agencies in Central Florida don't have.

FOX 35 reviewed the chase policies for the Orange County Sheriff's Office and Volusia County's Sheriff's Office. Both ban deputies from engaging in chases over things like traffic offenses.

Volusia County's policy also bans deputies from driving on the wrong side of the road during a chase.

"More flexibility has its pros and cons," said Former Police Chief Orlando Rolon.

Former Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon says policies are created and updated based on how and where law enforcement responds.

For example, he says he was against allowing the PIT maneuver in OPD's chase policy because he felt it was too dangerous to do in a populated area like Orlando.

So, when looking at FHP's changes, "Most people would ask what is dictating this change. The deviation from the practice. I think FHP is the only one that can answer that," said Rolon.

FOX 35 News reached out to FHP about the changes to the policy. We did get confirmation that they received our request, but have not gotten an update about the policy changes.