Following Suit

Dave Warner

Dave Warner


Dave Warner


Do you have any background on the wording and any legal vetting of the pro/cons of the following statements? We debated these today at our Dispatch Steering Committee (DSC) meeting.


Darren R. Wolf, ENP

Communications Center Manager

City of Bloomington, Illinois (USA)

Hi Darren,

Yes, I can help. I know we discussed this briefly with the Bloomington Police Department during our meetings.

The original PDI for over a decade of versions has always been, “Do not continue to follow or make contact with the driver of the other vehicle.”

This PDI is only available on Protocol 115: Driving Under the Influence (Impaired Driving) and Protocol 132: Traffic Violation/Complaint/Hazard. We’ve often run into police agencies across the country that are OK with having callers follow suspects in order to obtain current locations of drunk, erratic, or reckless drivers. This, as you know, gives police the chance to locate/intercept and stop the vehicle. Thus, these user agencies haven’t particularly liked the old standing (default) PDI. But as I mentioned before, it was the safe pathway in terms of individuals following others, and it remained in the protocol for years.

The Police Council of Standards (COS) reviewed this PDI and determined to make it optional to include a PDI warning callers how to be safe if following a suspect vehicle. That PDI states “Only if safe to do so, continue to follow at a safe distance. Obey all traffic laws and do not make contact with the driver of the other vehicle.” This change had two primary points of focus:

  1. To increase the likelihood of apprehension through obtaining current suspect locations for user agencies who dispatch police to intercept.
  2. Also, lessons learned from the Denise Amber Lee incident in Florida (USA).
The COS felt this procedure would be best addressed at the agency level based on an agency’s resources and historical beliefs as to what is the best practice. In turn, the council wanted the PDI available for callers based on agency practice and police response. This makes the selection up to you for the appropriate PDI your agency wants to provide callers.

You’ll notice Protocol Rule 13 (Case Entry Protocol) states this as needing determination by agency policy. Keep in mind, although the PDI is only on two Chief Complaints, a caller could be following a suspect involved in a theft, hit and run, a robbery, or just about anything. This is the reason for Rule 13 in Case Entry Protocol.

I hope this helps.

Dave Warner

Priority Dispatch Corp.

PPDS® Program Administrator