A study out of Michigan in 1993 found that 34.5% of pursuits resulted in separate felony charges; 14.4% resulted in intoxicated driver charges. Another study of 952 pursuits by the Metro Dade and Miami Police Departments found 48% of fleeing suspects were arrested for felonies; that's 314 felons who would have been on the street had the police not proactively pursued them.
Motor vehicle pursuits present a unique problem to officers and supervisors. No officer goes to work hoping to endanger the good citizens of the community. At the end of the day it is an officer's job to protect human life. Is driving by a citizen at 90 mph the best way to protect their life ? The simple answer would be "no." But "danger" is an abstract concept and subjective term; it can only truly be measured against whatever the alternative is. Can you imagine a society where the police could not pursue? Any miscreant, from a speeder to a murderer, would know the way to avoid prosecution is to merely accelerate. Officers are professionals and should be guided by their own training, experience and discretion. They should be guided by a reasonable departmental pursuit policy. The officers should also be protected by the rest of the criminal justice system. Prosecutors should prepare charges that truly reflect how many people were endangered by the motorist's actions; if he sped past ten people, charge him with ten separate counts of reckless endangerment. Judges must view pursuits as unique and special situations. They should sentence motorists who initiate police pursuits the same as any other criminal who is reckless with a deadly weapon in a public place. Officers should also depend on technology to help minimize the opportunity for pursuits. Building civilian cars that cannot travel 90 mph could be a start.
To answer the simple question--yes, motor vehicle pursuits are dangerous, but just think how dangerous not pursuing would be.