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Houston Police Revise Pursuit Policy

August 23, 2006 -- In a move to better protect officers, pedestrians and motorists from the potential dangers of police pursuits in our city, the Houston Police Department (HPD) revised its policy on police chases. The change essentially prohibits officers from continuing a pursuit when the suspect is attempting to flee or evade arrest for a Class C traffic violation only once enough information is obtained to file a warrant. The policy allows an officer to initially do as they have been trained and that is to pursue anyone who flees from an officer of the law. The officer is specifically allowed to follow the suspect for a short period of time (even on a Class C traffic charge) to obtain enough information to file a warrant.

The restriction is simply one of several added over the years. Other factors, which officers must continually evaluate include the mechanical soundness of the police vehicle, weather, road condition, population density, and other considerations. The new policy also adds new slow-speed stopping procedures for officers who have been properly trained. "This change, as with previous changes, recognizes the need for our officers to weigh the Law Enforcement's objective against the potential harm and risk to the police officer, citizens and the suspect," said Chief Hurtt.

The policy leaves in force an officer's ability to pursue wanted suspects and those who commit Class B misdemeanors or greater offenses. Also, the door remains open for police to follow-up with enforcement action on drivers of discontinued pursuits where the officer is able to obtain the necessary vehicle information and suspect description. In short, HPD will not be turning a blind eye to traffic violators. Officers will continue to stop traffic violators, and they will pursue them to obtain necessary follow-up information when possible.


For additional information, please contact the HPD Public Affairs Division a 713-308-3200.