Police pursuits in York County increased 33 percent in 2012, much higher than the statewide increase of less than 5 percent.

York County police agencies reported 93 vehicle pursuits in 2011. Last year, the number jumped to 124, a five-year high, according to state police data.

Law enforcement agencies across the state reported involvement in 1,522 pursuits in 2012, compared to 1,453 pursuits in 2011.

Springettsbury Township Police Chief Thomas Hyers said it's hard to say exactly why people flee from police.

"I think the reason people flee are various," he said.

Numbers up: Over the course of the five-year span, the number of pursuits across the state peaked in 2008. when there were 1,816. The lowest number of pursuits happened in 2010, when there were 1,413, according to the data.

That nearly mirrors data for York County. In 2010, there were just 75 pursuits locally, the lowest number between 2008 and 2012.

In 2008, there were 88.

Police agencies across the state report pursuit data di-

rectly to state police through an Internet-based system, which is maintained by the state police Bureau of Research and Development.

Risk: Hyers said there's a "risk and reward" when it comes to fleeing from police.

For example, if a suspect flees because he or she is intoxicated and behind the wheel, that person could face prison time and could be left jobless if caught, the chief said.

"There's a good reward if you get away," Hyers said.

The risk, of course, is being caught, Hyers said.

According to the state crime code, fleeing and eluding is a misdemeanor and those convicted face a $500 fine. Other factors, like a suspect being intoxicated, could bump the charge up to a felony.

"A felony of third degree can have a fine as high as $15,000, but (it) is generally less," state police Trooper Mark Hydock said in an email, adding that the fine could be coupled with jail time.

There are also other charges usually associated with fleeing and eluding, the trooper said.

"Think of this (fleeing and eluding) charge as a 'lesser included offense,'" Hydock said. "For instance, someone is suspected of DUI and they flee, and are subsequently arrested. As a result, they are charged with both, however, the DUI is the more serious of the offenses."

Hazards: There are hazards when it comes to fleeing from police.

Fourteen deaths were reported across the state in 2012 as the result of pursuits. Of those, 13 were violators fleeing from police and one death was an uninvolved person.

No police officers were killed as the result of police pursuits, according to state police.

Each police department has its own pursuit policy, and officers take a number of factors into account before initiating a chase.

"Under state law, every police department in Pennsylvania must have a written emergency vehicle-response policy governing procedures under which an officer should initiate, continue or terminate a pursuit," State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said in a news release. "By law, these policies are confidential."

Officers consider weather and road conditions, the time of day, traffic on roads, the location, the violation that started the pursuit and other factors, Hyers said.

A senior officer also listens in on the pursuit over a radio and can opt to terminate it if it becomes too dangerous, he said.

But it wasn't always like that. Policies have become stricter over the past 10 years or so, the chief said.

"I think we are in a much better place now," Hyers said. " There's a lot of factors we take into account before a pursuit."

-- Reach Greg Gross at ggros s@yorkdispatch.com.