The Best Ever Police Chases Captured On Dashcam

There’s nothing quite like seeing footage of a police chase; all of the excitement of an action movie, but in real life. In this article, we review our favorite police chases.

Pop quiz: when was the first dash-mounted camera used by a US police officer? 

If you guessed some time in the 80s or 90s, you’re not alone – but you’d also be way off. You may be surprised to learn that the first recorded case of a dashcam being used was all the way back in 1939. 

Officer R. H. Galbraith of the California Highway Patrol was the first officer to use his ‘windshield camera’ to record evidence of a traffic violation. Of course, Officer Galbraith’s camera was very different from what we use today; he used three cameras mounted inside his car that could only take still photographs. Still, this planted the seeds of the technology that we now use.

From the humble beginnings as a series of still cameras, dash cams evolved through footage recorded on film, to videotape and eventually digital cameras. The first high-speed chase to be recorded from beginning to end was captured by Detective Bob Surgenor in 1988 (more on this below). The use of videotape in dashcams is also credited for the rise in popularity of police chase TV shows in the 90s, such as ‘World’s Wildest Police Videos’ or ‘Cops’.

The appeal of these shows is universal. There’s nothing quite like seeing footage of a police chase; all of the excitement of an action movie, but in real life. While these TV shows are no longer as popular as they once were, this type of content still has a large online following, with some videos racking up millions of views on YouTube. With that said, here are a few of our favorites.

THE ORIGINAL: BOB SURGENOR (1988)

The internet can be an amazing archive of historical footage, and this is a great example. Here you can watch the first high-speed chase to be recorded from beginning to end anywhere in the world.

In 1988, Detective Bob Surgenor of the Berea Ohio Police Department was in pursuit of three robbery suspects in a stolen car. The men had robbed a radio shack and then stolen a car for their getaway. Luckily, Detective Surgenor had a video dashcam mounted in his vehicle which he used to record the resulting pursuit.

The pursuit starts out quite sedate, with the robbers calmly trying to find a route out of town and seemingly unconcerned about the detective on their tail. However, once they reach wider roads they start to drive more erratically in an attempt to lose their pursuers. They speed up and make a number of risky turns and lane changes. Police cars from Middleburg Heights and Brook Park join the pursuit which makes its way onto the highway. At this point the chase is truly on, reaching speeds of up to 120mph.

The pursuing officers radioed ahead and had a rolling roadblock set up by the Highway Patrol. The suspects rammed the back end of a State Highway Patrol cruiser and continued on, but their car was damaged and they eventually rolled to a stop. The pursuing officers boxed in the car and then took the suspects into custody, drawing this little piece of history to a close.

THE INFAMOUS: OJ SIMPSON (1994)

This was the police chase that led to one of the most famous criminal trials in modern history. In 1994 OJ Simpson, driving his white Ford Bronco, led officers from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department on a low-speed chase along Interstate 405 in Los Angeles, California. Many of us will already be very familiar with the helicopter footage of the chase as it was aired live and then repeated constantly during the lengthy trial. In addition, we now have public access to dashcam footage which was not released until 18 years later, in 2018.

The footage shows excerpts from the pursuit, including parts of the chase on the highway and the conclusion at Simpson’s home in Brentwood, Los Angeles. The footage is grainy and fairly low-quality but provides an interesting perspective on what remains the most-watched police pursuit in history.

THE PERFECT MANEUVER: FORSYTH COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE (2021)

On April 12th 2021, an attentive citizen called in to Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office dispatch after observing a reckless driver throw out a suspicious bag near a business parking lot. Deputies were dispatched to the location and tracked down the black Dodger Charger. They followed the vehicle into the parking lot of Merchant’s Square, where four males exited the vehicle. As the deputies approached the car, the suspects returned to the vehicle and fled.

What followed was a pursuit that eventually ended when the deputies performed a Precision Immobilization Technique (P.I.T.) maneuver. The suspects were taken into custody and were found to have fake I.D.s, multiple ski masks, two Glock 17 pistols, and a substantial quantity of marijuana on their persons. The men were all from Chicago and two of them had extensive criminal records, including multiple felony convictions for violent crimes in Illinois. They told deputies that they were in town on “vacation”.

THE SURPRISING ONE: HELPFUL TRUCK DRIVER (1993) 

On March 16, 1993 in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, officers were in pursuit of a stolen vehicle with 2 armed suspects inside. The officers radioed ahead for assistance, and their message was picked up by a truck driver who agreed to help. 

But why would an ordinary citizen agree to get involved in a dangerous pursuit? As it turns out, the truck driver was no ordinary citizen; he was a former Alabama Sheriff’s Deputy. As the suspect came up behind him, the former Deputy skillfully swerved his truck into the path of the fleeing car. The suspects tried to get around the truck a number of times, but the truck driver was tenacious and wouldn’t let them through.

In frustration the drivers of the stolen car drove onto the shoulder and then off the highway completely, trying to get around the truck, but to no avail. At first, the truck wouldn’t let them back onto the tarmac and then he pulled ahead, letting them back on but still blocking them from moving past him. Eventually, the suspects realized they were never getting past the truck, pulling over and surrendering to the pursuing officers.

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