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HPD To Form Pursuit Review Committee

January 27, 2006 -- Houston Police Chief Harold L. Hurtt announced today formation of a Pursuit Review Committee aimed at investigating pursuits of suspects fleeing in
vehicles that end in accidents causing serious injury or death.

The PRC will be headed by an HPD Assistant Chief. "In keeping with my philosophy of transparency, we will also seek assistance from the private sector and eventually name some of those from local universities and the Houston Galveston Area Council as committee members," said Chief Hurtt. "Our department reviews pursuits on a regular basis, however, civilian input will instill a level of neutrality during reviews of pursuits our department investigates on a daily basis." The HGAC is respected for its research and reviews of accidents.

The committee will be tasked with trying to find any patterns or trends indicating whether the police department needs to make adjustments in its training, equipment or the policy itself.

HPD officers were pursuing a felony-evading suspect in west Houston earlier today when the suspect's vehicle struck a citizen's vehicle, ejecting and critically injured a 12-year-old male passenger in the citizen's vehicle. "To the family of that youngster, I want to pass along our condolences," Chief Hurtt said. "Unfortunately, this is yet another incident in which a criminal whose blatant disregard for the law caused a tragedy to occur, not our police officers. It is the intent of our officers and our pursuit policy to safely apprehend fleeing suspects," said Chief Hurtt.

"My staff has reviewed two years' worth of data involving motor vehicle pursuits and partly based upon that, I am confident the policy as is written is a good policy," Chief Hurtt said. "Our pursuit policy is comparable to many policies used by police agencies around the country."

HPD Statistics on Vehicle Pursuits for 2005 are as follows:

* A total of 676 pursuits of felony evading suspects
* 79 injuries; 24 were HPD officers, 41 were fleeing suspects, 12 were citizens in other vehicles and two were other persons
* Four deaths; three were suspects, one citizen in a vehicle
* Average time of pursuit was six minutes and covered five miles

HPD Statistics for 2004 show similar numbers:

* A total of 608 pursuits of felony evading suspects
* 81 injuries; seven were HPD officers, 56 were fleeing suspects, 18 were citizens
* One death; a citizen in a vehicle.
* Average time of pursuit was six minutes and covered five miles

Chief Hurtt said the police department is also in the planning stages of making contact with officials in the automobile and insurance industries to explore latest technologies available to possibly allow officers to disable fleeing vehicles.

1-27-06

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