Nearly three weeks after a police chase in Patton Village, Tx., resulted in a crash that left an officer and a boy dead, the officer’s small police department has refused to release its high-speed pursuit policy, reflecting the lack of transparency among some smaller area police agencies, the Houston Chronicle reports.
As towns and cities around the region grow at a rapid clip, law enforcement officers in rural and suburban communities more often must choose whether to engage in a high-speed chase. Experts say that if these agencies lack pursuit policies or haven’t revised them to reflect increasing concerns about the dangers to the public, it could raise the frequency of pursuits, which across the U.S. kill someone almost every day and a police officer about every three months.
“If you’re going to die in the line of duty, the odds are it’s going to be in a traffic accident,” said David Marcaurele of the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office. “Pursuits are just very dangerous things.” In recent years, many area police departments have responded to the public outcry over chases, tightening their policies and adding more supervision. Yet the Houston area has seen at least 13 chase crashes in the past 13 weeks alone, leaving six people dead and nine injured, according to local news reports. Tom Gleason, a retired Florida police captain, has been involved in chases and trains police officers on proper pursuit procedures for the Florida Public Safety Institute. “Sometimes the better part of valor is judgment,” he said. “When an officer starts to pursue a fleeing suspect, you develop tunnel vision.”