Police pursuits increasing significantly in Henrico, dropping in Chesterfield (2024)

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Police pursuits are one of the most dangerous activities officers can engage in due to the safety risks they pose to officers themselves, the fleeing suspect, and civilians on the road. The balance of risk versus reward puts police departments in a challenging position of determining when officers should and should not give chase.

Here's a look at some pursuit data in Central Virginia.

In Henrico County, police pursuits are on the rise. There's been a 78% increase in chases over the past five years, and a significant jump over the last two years.

In 2023, there were 111 pursuits, an increase from 70 in 2022.

Police pursuits increasing significantly in Henrico, dropping in Chesterfield (1)

Henrico Police

The most common age of the fleeing driver, according to data published by Henrico Police, was 16-years-old.

The top reason officers began a chase was to track down a stolen vehicle, accounting for 38% of all pursuits in 2023.

“And we don't want a 16 or 17 year old driving fast, running from us and creating a public danger," Major Chris Eley, who oversees investigations, told CBS 6.

The increase in pursuits comes as car thefts are skyrocketing in the county, a crime that police said is being driven by juvenile offenders.

But when the suspect is a young, inexperienced driver, a chase could lead to collateral consequences.

“What we do is we really empower our supervisors in the field to evaluate every situation, make decisions. Our supervisors and even our officers have the ability to decide not to have a pursuit, and there are several factors we look at whether it be time of day, traffic, weather, the way the driving is, and so sometimes you can disengage and find the vehicle later," Eley said.

Police pursuits increasing significantly in Henrico, dropping in Chesterfield (2)


Last year, 33 chases in Henrico ended in a crash or disabled vehicle.

In one incident, an innocent teen on his bike was hit and killed in a police pursuit crash. The suspect was a juvenile accused of carjacking.

Henrico Police said at the time that the pursuit was initiated in accordance with department policy, which only allows officers to pursue when the suspect committed a felony, firearm offense, violent misdemeanor, or was recklessly driving in a way that jeopardizes human life.

Car thefts alone are non-violent property crimes, but grand larceny and carjacking are considered felonies.

“You have to look at every case individually and make a decision based upon what's in front of you," Eley said.

Over in neighboring Chesterfield County, pursuits are now decreasing.

This comes after a CBS 6 investigation last year revealed Chesterfield Police saw a 197% increase in chases over a five-year span from 2018-2022-- an anomaly compared to other local law enforcement agencies which did not see significant changes in annual pursuit data in that same time period.

Chesterfield Police's policy gives officers more discretion on when to pursue. CBS 6 found that in about 66% of cases, officers were chasing people for minor traffic infractions.

Police pursuits increasing significantly in Henrico, dropping in Chesterfield (3)


The department told CBS 6 it stood by its practices, and the police chief at the time determined in his annual pursuit review that he did not need to make substantive policy changes. However, the department did implement a new strategy to mitigate pursuits of stolen vehicles without revealing details about the operation.

New data, provided to CBS 6 through a public records request, showed there 156 police pursuits in Chesterfield in 2023, down from 191 chases in 2022.

56 pursuits resulted in a crash.

19 pursuits resulted in injuries.

And one pursuit resulted in the death of a civilian. 28-year-old Denasia Gray was killed by a fleeing suspect who police said ran a red light in Petersburg before crashing into the vehicle Gray was in. The crash happened nearly an hour after officers initially tried to pull the suspect over for a stolen car with guns inside it. The pursuit crossed into two additional jurisdictions before ending.

Chesterfield Police determined two pursuits last year violated department policy, but the department would not release the reports showing how and why those decisions were made. The department withheld all 156 pursuit review records, citing a discretionary Freedom of Information Act exemption that allows police to withhold records pertaining to "allegations of wrongdoing" involving officers.

Chesterfield Police also declined to give CBS 6 additional information as to what caused the decrease in pursuits in 2023.

Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for in-depth coverage of this important local story. Anyone with more information canemail newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

SHARE on social media to SPREAD the WORD!

EAT IT, VIRGINIA restaurant news and interviews

Copyright 2024 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Sign up for the Headlines Newsletter and receive up to date information.

now signed up to receive the Headlines Newsletter.

Click here to manage all Newsletters

Police pursuits increasing significantly in Henrico, dropping in Chesterfield (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Terrell Hackett

Last Updated:

Views: 6217

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (72 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Terrell Hackett

Birthday: 1992-03-17

Address: Suite 453 459 Gibson Squares, East Adriane, AK 71925-5692

Phone: +21811810803470

Job: Chief Representative

Hobby: Board games, Rock climbing, Ghost hunting, Origami, Kabaddi, Mushroom hunting, Gaming

Introduction: My name is Terrell Hackett, I am a gleaming, brainy, courageous, helpful, healthy, cooperative, graceful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.