Questions Posted to "Ask a Dispatcher"
Q. Is it legal/acceptable for a JPD vehicle (driven by an officer) to use accessive speed on Egan without the use of emergency lights?
Dear Juneau Resident,
Here is what officers are taught:
"13 AAC 02.517 and CBJ 72.02.517 allow the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle to disregard a statute, regulation, or ordinance governing the operation, stopping, or parking of a vehicle when in the performance of his or her duties. To legally disregard traffic laws when responding to an emergency call or when in pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law, emergency lights and siren must be used. In the performance of duty and during emergency responses, JPD personnel will drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway."
JPD used to have a mode of response authorized called "Code 2", which is no lights or sirens and up to 10 mph over the speed limit. This might be used for something like a domestic violence call where the two parties had been physical, are now separated but the situation is not stable. Upon further review of the issue, JPD made a decision that there is only Code 1 with regular law abiding driving, and Code 3 with lights, siren, and faster than the speed limit being allowed. Losing Code 2 was a tough adjustment for some of us oldtimers so the supervisor should be contacted if you see that behavior so it can get corrected.
Officers are also taught in rare situations, they can go outside the policy. Lets say there has been an assault with a weapon and the suspect still has the weapon. This is obviously a call the police need to get to immediately but maybe not let the suspect know exactly when and where the police are arriving. As officers get close to the residence, they might turn off the siren so as to avoid risking anyone inside the home. As they get even closer, the emergency lights might also be turned off, again to avoid letting the suspect know the police have arrived. Sometimes the suspect not knowing the police are there is important to protecting potential victims or hostages. Officers are expected to weigh everyone's safety and act in a defensible, reasonable manner.
The only way to know what the situation was is to call the supervisor. If the driver was a sergeant, you can call the lieutenant. The number to use is 586-0600 and it works any time of the day or night.