Car Chases, One of the Deadliest Things Police Officers Can Do

High-speed chases can have fatal consequences for innocent bystanders so some departments have revised tactics.
6:58 | 08/08/15

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:

{{nextVideo.title}}

{{nextVideo.description}}

Skip to this video now

Now Playing:

{{currentVideo.title}}

More information on this video
Enhanced full screen
Explore related content
Comments
Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Car Chases, One of the Deadliest Things Police Officers Can Do
If you hear high speed car chases and think about action movies, you may be surprised to find out that for police departments across the country they're a very real problem that can claim the lives of innocent bystanders. What makes a car chase take a deadly turn? ABC's Phillip Mena buckles up to night to find out. Reporter: They're often so dramatic we can't look away. High-speed police chases where officers stop at nothing in pursuit of their suspects. Watch as police chase this woman during morning rush hour in D.C. They gave chase after she took off from a retune traffic stop. You can see her driving off the road swiping commuters along the way. In northern California, a car slams into this sidewalk cafe while being pursued by police. The driver wanted for alleged domestic violence was caught but not before he pinned this customer against the wall. He has since taken a plea offer for reckless evasion. Time and time again we see police chases end in injuries and death of innocent bystanders. Now some police demenpartments are taking steps to prevent the accidents. It is unacceptable collateral damage. Reporter: A "Usa today" investigation found that more than 5,000 bystanders and passengers have been killed in police car chases since 1979. Tens of thousand Mr. Have been injured. And over 90% of all chases are for nonviolent crimes. Making the pursuit itself often more dangerous THA the original violation. It's upsetting. Very upsetting. Reporter: Jessica Rodriguez knows what it is look to lose a loved ones to a police pursuit. Her father Ronaldo was killed after a long workday caught in the middle of a high-speed chase. There is no way he ever could have seen the SUV coming his way until he was in the middle of the intersection. Reporter: She shows us the dash cam video front tragic day. He is speeding up quick? He is speeding up quick. Reporter: The police pursuing a 17-year-old for driving with tinted windows. Chased him for 17 miles at speeds of 80 miles an hour. Do you hear the engine on the police officer speeding up? Revving up. He is revving up. Look at this vehicle right here. Almost hit him. Reporter: With the police in hot pursuit the team blew through intersections, school buses and a two-way stop. Finally hitting her father's car killing him instantly. I look at the pain my brothers have gone through, my sister, my mom. The grand kids. My 4-year-old that never met him tells me, mom I'm so sorry for what happened to grandpa tiny, that was my dad's nickname. Reporter: Jessica says she plans to file a lawsuit against the local police. In the meantime, she has taken her cause to capitol hill. The goal is to hopefully get legislation to fund pursuit reduction technology. Reporter: Technology that she says can help reduce the number of needless deaths. How does it work? Can you walk me through it? Police in Austin one of 20 departments across the country testing star chase, a gps tracking technology. When the officer feels a pursuit is likely to occur. He simply pushes one button, a gps projectile, compressed air fires from the front of the vehicle, attaches itself to the suspect vehicle. Reporter: The tag contains a gps tracker the police can monitor remotely. Here in the command center they can track in real time the suspect's whereabout and alert officers when it is safe to make an arrest. Officer carenas, patrols the streets of the east Austin neighborhood he group in. Ready to go. Reporter: Looks like the tagging system made it safer not only for you, but the people out driving around? Motorists absolutely. We don't have to risk ourselves to try to catch the vehicle now. And it leaves our jurisdiction, we'll, let neighboring sector know, with vehicles entering. Reporter: Austin pd claims star chase has been a success. Since 2013, the system has been deployed nearly 40 times with 100% arrest rate with no crashes or injuries in the cases. They ordered ten more units at $5,000 apiece. How difficult is it to be the one pursuing? It's extremely difficult. You have to account for what the suspect is doing. Keep eyes on him. You have supervisors asking you what's going on? What are you doing? Where are you going? How fast are you going? What are the road conditions? Reporter: While pursuing a suspect. Each police department has its own pursuit approximately see but all rely on the officer's judgment on twhooiwhether to chase. Most do. Through intersections and and a half gating narrow residential streets. To find out firsthand what a police chase feels like, we sought the help of Travis Yates, a veteran of the police deps. What am I at now to get a base line? You are 89. Reporter: After a lesson I am rigged with a heart monitor to regulate my response. You have cars over here. Make sure they see you. Let's go get him. Reporter: In the pursuit drill my heart rate sky rockets. Reporter: Up from 84 to over 170. Adrenaline surges through me. All I was doing in that moment was focusing on chasing. I was not really noticing too much else. I was trying my best to. But, again when you got the lights and the sirens going and adrenaline pumping it makes it pretty difficult to, to really make a rational decisions. Reporter: Something that police officers we spoke with say they struggle to keep in mind when the surge to chase kicks in. It is real difficult. A lot of officers have a hard time dealing with it. Reporter: Most police officers are in it for the right reasons, they're in it to serve, they're in it to bring bad games to justice and justice to their victims. It is hard to let somebody go. With stricter regulations, Jessica hopes other families will never have to experience a tragedy like she has. I know that there is a loss. That's felt greatly. And when I look at this picture, that's what I see is -- that we're one a big family and we were so happy. And now the pain that all of us live with since that day. It didn't have to happen.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"id":32962739,"title":"Car Chases, One of the Deadliest Things Police Officers Can Do","duration":"6:58","description":"High-speed chases can have fatal consequences for innocent bystanders so some departments have revised tactics.","url":"/Nightline/video/car-chases-deadliest-things-police-officers-32962739","section":"Nightline","mediaType":"default"}