Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt said liability issues and concerns for public safety influenced his decision to ban high-speed pursuits of drivers suspected of committing minor traffic violations, says the Houston Chronicle. Many rank and file have come out against the new rule. Hurtt will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for an additional helicopter to assist in tracking fleeing motorists. “We think it is much more safe and makes good common sense to use the helicopters to track individuals and provide information to the officers on the ground,” he said.
There were 676 police chases in 2005, which resulted in injuries to 79 people, including 14 not directly involved in the pursuit. No figures were available from this year. Houston police union officials slammed the policy change, saying it gives officers virtually no discretion during pursuits. Union officials said officers should be allowed to employ a maneuver called a “pit,” where a patrol car is used to clip the rear of a suspect’s vehicle, forcing it to spin and come to a stop. Police department policy forbids officers from bumping a fleeing driver.