The Fort Worth Police Department now has a tough policy aimed at preventing crashes caused by police officers typing messages on their dashboard computers while driving.
An NBC 5 investigation has uncovered that distractions lead to frequent police crashes across North Texas.
Fort Worth’s new policy says in part: “Officers shall not type on the MDC (mobile data computer) when the vehicle is in motion unless an exigent circumstance exists requiring immediate action.”
Related Article: Arlington Police Change Policy Following NBC Story
Midland, TX – “It was like their lives were just shattered, they were town apart.”
It was the grim scene of a traffic accident, a police pursuit gone wrong, it was December 29th, 2009.
Police pursuits have always seemed to rest on a fine line, protect public safety or try to catch the suspect?
As the Odessa Police Department continues the review of their own pursuit policy, the FBI has published a study on pursuits from an officer’s perspective, but it’s the very topic that became fatal for one Midland man.
Dulle heard the story from neighbors. “He took off on Natural Bridge Road, weaving in and out of traffic, at speeds they said exceeded 80 miles an hour in a 35 mile an hour zone,” he said. “I just don’t know how police go about chasing a guy who just has no regard for his safety or the safety of others.”
They can’t, says Chief Tim Fitch. And much of the public didn’t really comprehend why. “I could not go to a public meeting in the last year and a half without some citizen asking me about the number of car break ins we had in our community, or the number of copper thefts. Then it would proceed from there, and I would explain that even if we got behind these individuals at the scene, we were not allowed to pursue them.”
The only way his officers can currently chase someone is if they’ve used or threatened to use deadly force. After hearing the public’s frustration, Fitch wondered if the policy needed updating. So he asked researchers at the University of Missouri St. Louis to survey county residents. The survey showed people want to give officers more leeway. The chief now proposes allowing officers to chase suspects accused of burglary in the first degree, which means, for example, they broke into a home while it was occupied. He also proposes allowing officers to pursue DUI suspects, as long as they’re not going too fast.
Note: PDI has long been a fan of Chief Tim Fitch. He was instrumental in restricting the pursuit policy when it was needed and here he is again showing leadership in listening to the concerns of his community. Chief Fitch continues to show that he cares about this issue and remains an active presence in developing sound policy along with a common sense approach.
If a new police chase policy had already been approved by IMPD, the pursuit that ended with the deaths of two young men Tuesday may never have happened.
Under a proposed set of new rules, officers could only chase violent suspects who are an immediate threat. Right now, police can pursue any driver who takes off, regardless of the violation.
Tuesday night, officers were chasing 19-year-old Brandon Palmer in a stolen SUV when he lost control and crashed. He and his juvenile passenger were killed.
To chase or not to chase? That’s been a burning question for police across the country after a number of high-speed car pursuits have ended in grievous injury to officers, suspects and innocent motorists.
North Charleston police are the latest to take up the discussion in the wake of some recent car chases that ended in wrecks.
The suspect who eluded Chattanooga Police during an Aug. 24 chase was arrested two days later in Dalton, Ga., where he also led police there on a car and foot chase, a Chattanooga police spokeswoman said Tuesday.
That weekend chase stretched from the Highway 153 Walmart onto Highway 27, through Red Bank and into the densely populated North Shore area.
Police called off the pursuit of Eric Reeves, of Rossville, Ga., after he allegedly drove up on a sidewalk on Frazier Avenue and banged into a Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputy’s car, Sgt. Jerri Weary said.
At that point, police deemed it too danger to continue, she said.
HARRISBURG, Pa., July 20, 2011 — /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The number of police pursuits in Pennsylvania dropped last year, State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan announced today.
Law enforcement agencies across the state reported involvement in 1,413 vehicle pursuits in 2010, compared to 1,582 pursuits in 2009. Last year’s pursuits resulted in 583 crashes, with 174 involving injuries.
Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/07/20/3782666/pennsylvania-state-police-report.html#ixzz1SipbWwym
St. Petersburg, Florida — For the third time in just two months, a police pursuit in the Bay area has ended with an innocent person killed.
Late Wednesday night, a St. Petersburg man died after his vehicle was broadsided by a car being chased by Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies.
According to Chief Justice Kennedy: “Risk of violence is inherent to vehicle flight,….It is well known that when offenders use motor vehicles as their means of escape they create serious potential risks of physical injury to others. Flight from a law enforcement officer invites, even demands, pursuit.”
You can read the entire opinion here.
Travis Yates, Editor