Bystander Death Puts Police Chase Policies in Spotlight


Spring has just arrived and yet we've already seen a string of police chases in the Houston area -- one resulting in the death of a Houston city employee over the weekend.

Last week we saw Houston Police use a pit maneuver to end what turned out to be an hour-long slow-speed chase on the south 610 loop. 

This weekend's fatal chase involved DPS troopers.  Messages seeking comment on that agency's chase policy were not returned.

HPD Capt. Kenneth Campbell says each chase is different, so officers can't apply the same tactic to every suspect.

“Speed and traffic and things like that, level of how fast they're going is obviously something that is incorporated within the training, but first and foremost is the safety of everyone involved, as well as bystanders as well,” says Campbell.

Cost to taxpayers is another factor.  Some jurisdictions don't have the money to repair or replace patrol cars damaged during a chase.  Campbell says training helps reduce that damage.

“When the pit maneuver is performed properly it can very well result in no damage to minimal damage to the vehicle,” he says.  “There's actually quite an art or technique to performing that maneuver.”

Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls approves of pit maneuvers, but he's instructed his officers to get supervisor approval whenever a chase ensues.

“I don't necessarily believe we should be chasing everybody around this county traveling 100 miles per hour, it needs to be supervisor-approved and we just need to make sure that those around the chase are safe as possible,” he says.

“It's sad to think that an individual fleeing in a vehicle would run through an intersection and kill an innocent person, so we have to be very mindful of who we're chasing and the reason for the chase.”


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