Vol. 21 No. 7- SB 719- Requirements Of The New Pursuit Legislation

April 11, 2006

It has come to our attention that information being generated regarding the requirements of Senate Bill 719, which deals with pursuit policies, appears to be incorrect and/or misleading. A recent notice sent out by a major law firm, apparently to all law enforcement agencies in California, makes reference to the requirements set forth in the current version of Vehicle Code §17004.7, not to the language which will be in effect as of July 1, 2007. As such that law firm’s notice is misleading and could result in significant liability for a law enforcement agency which adopts a pursuit policy in accordance with its recommendations.

The notice from that law firm refers to the current requirements of §17004.7 and advises agencies to “review your policy carefully and be sure it includes all of these four standards.” In fact, pursuant to Senate Bill 719, Vehicle Code §17004.7 has been changed rather significantly and, in order to have a policy in compliance with the law, requires that the policy include, at a minimum, twelve standards set forth in that section.

The new law mandates that a pursuit policy contain those twelve criteria if an agency wishes to avail itself of the immunity from civil liability for injuries caused to or by a fleeing suspect.

Specifically, the new Vehicle Code §17004.7(c) states that “a policy for the safe conduct of motor vehicle pursuits by peace officers shall meet all of the following minimum standards: …”

    1. Determine under what circumstances to initiate a pursuit;
    2. Determine the total number of law enforcement vehicles authorized to participate in the pursuit;
    3. Determine communication procedures to be followed during a pursuit;
    4. Determine the role of the supervisor in managing and controlling the pursuit;
    5. Determine driving tactics;
    6. Determine authorized pursuit intervention tactics;
    7. Determine the factors to be considered by an officer in determining speeds throughout a pursuit;
    8. Determine the role of air support where available;
    9. Determine when to terminate or discontinue a pursuit. (The law then sets forth eight specific factors which must be included).
    10. Determine procedures for apprehending an offender following a pursuit;
    11. Determine the effective coordination, management, and control of interjurisdictional pursuits; and
    12. Establish reporting and post pursuit analysis and follow-up.

Additionally, the new law requires – again, in order to avail oneself of the immunity from civil liability for injuries caused by or to the fleeing suspect – that regular and periodic training, on an annual basis shall be provided by the department.

Penal Code §13519.8 mandates that the POST Commission develop and implement a course of instruction for law enforcement officers in the handling of vehicle pursuits. POST is also required to develop minimum guidelines for the development of such vehicle pursuit policies which “shall be a resource for each agency executive to use in the creation of a specific pursuit policy….”

Pursuant to Penal Code §13519.8 POST has established a committee of subject matter experts to develop those guidelines. As an attorney, who focuses his attention exclusively on the needs of law enforcement, I have been asked to serve on that committee and assist in the development of those guidelines. Subsequently, a video telecourse will be generated to assist law enforcement in meeting the legislative mandate of SB 719.

It is anticipated that that these efforts will be completed by the summer of 2006 thereby allowing agencies a full year to develop their own vehicle pursuit policies and to implement the training required by the SB 719.


As stated above, an agency needs to comply with the revised Vehicle Code 17004.7 only if it wishes to avail itself of the immunity from civil liability set forth in that section. If it does, then prior to July 1, 2007, it must insure that its own pursuit policy meets, at a minimum, the twelve criteria set forth in Vehicle Code §17004.7 – not the four criteria contained in the current version of Vehicle Code §17004.7.

An agency will also be required to insure that the initial training and, thereafter, annual training in accordance with the criteria adopted by POST, will be provided to all law enforcement officers authorized to drive emergency vehicles.

As always, it is imperative that you confer with your department’s legal counsel when developing this policy. If you wish to discuss this matter in greater detail please feel free to contact me at 714- 446-1400 or by e-mail at mjm@jones-mayer.com.