More than a dozen Dallas police officers, including a supervisor, have been disciplined over a lengthy May 2009 high-speed chase of carjacking suspects during rush-hour traffic.An attorney for the officers impudently tried to claim that “Yet again the department has taken over a year to second-guess the split-second decisions of hard-working officers pursuing a car full of aggravated robbery suspects.” But those split second decisions overrode both the officers' training and department policy, and if they're allowed to flaunt those policies without consequence then other officers will do the same next time around.
Punishments range from two 5-day suspensions, to the recommendation that two officers be demoted and minor discipline such as written counseling.
An internal investigation earlier concluded that numerous officers violated the department’s pursuit or emergency driving policies while heading to the chase, while actively involved in it, or while following it.
Those violations included barreling through school zones and residential areas at high speeds, running up on sidewalks, failing to obey traffic control devices and going the wrong way on one-way streets.
“Operating a motor vehicle – a four-ton police car – in that manner was reckless,” said Assistant Police Chief Floyd Simpson, who supervises the city’s seven patrol stations.
Ironically, given that sort of resentment by line officers over restrictions on high-speed chases, such policies are largely designed to protect officers, who are most at risk in such situations. But they also protect the public. In this case, "In-car video shows children on the sidewalks as a patrol car races through a school zone."
When policymakers look for ways to make police officers' job safer, this is one of the most effective available methods that's actually within the department's control. Nobody can prevent a crook from taking a shot at an officer, but supervisors can prevent that same officer from driving recklessly and harming themselves or others, and they're right to do so.
RELATED: Via Unfair Park, the Dallas County Sheriff's Office has posted this short video to YouTube "the Sheriff's Department's latest offering: "a short video highlighting the importance of safe driving of squad cars," which Robert Wilonsky notes "consists almost entirely of smash-em-ups filmed from dashcams." The video points out in the opening that in 2008, 41 US police officers were killed feloniously, and 68 were killed in accidents.
See related Grits posts:
- Officer death contradicts Houston PD claims that all its cops wear seat belts
- Accidents mount in face of Dallas sheriff, constables' outdated pursuit policies
- Houston PD high-speed chase policy injures dozens every year
- A suggestion for reducing life threatening risks to police officers
- Texas leads nation in 2007 officer deaths
- Blogversation on high-speed police pursuits