The Dallas Police Department may curb the circumstances under which officers can engage in hot pursuits, reports the Dallas Morning News. Since 2004, at least nine people have died in accidents arising out of incidents in which drivers fled police. A committee of police officers is expected to recommend that the police-pursuit policy place limits on chases for misdemeanor offenses and traffic violations. Under current policy, officers can chase drivers for traffic violations and other misdemeanors until it is “apparent that the violator will do whatever is necessary to evade the officer.”
Police Chief David Kunkle ordered a review of the Dallas policy after a fatal August 2004 chase. In that case, a man fleeing in a stolen vehicle ran a red light, striking and killing another motorist. That year, Dallas police were involved in 361 vehicle pursuits; last year, police said, the number of chases dropped to about 355. Since the early ’90s, major cities have restricted police chases so that only those suspected of violent felonies are chased. Atlanta requires meeting at least one of three requirements, including that the violator be armed or pose an immediate threat of violence. Phoenix doesn’t allow chases of traffic violators, those suspected of nonviolent felonies or auto theft. A change in the Dallas policy likely would meet stiff opposition from police associations and the rank and file.