HPD chase under scrutiny

HOUSTON There are two police chases every day in this city, but one we captured on camera last month triggered a 13 Undercover investigation. We've learned the Houston Police Department is investigating as well.

It happens about 750 times ever a year in Houston. The bad guys make a run for it and the good guys give chase.; car chases that can be dangerous, even deadly.

"The number one goal of all of this is to make sure officers and public are safe," said Houston Police Department attorney Craig Ferrell.

HPD policy calls for four police cars to give chase, more only if the supervisor calls for their help. However, even commanders were scratching their heads when they saw the end of this July 14 chase on TV/a>. It was breaking news on Channel 13.

"We did and that's why there's an IAD investigation going on as well," said Ferrell.

And thanks to our Transtar jam cams, you can play along at home. At 9:16pm that night, you can count nearly 50 patrol cars behind the guy. See what we mean?

"Your video clearly shows there were a couple of dozen or more at end of this pursuit and we want to know why," said Ferrell.

Our first view of the chase came just before 9pm that night, four cops in pursuit on the East Freeway. Six minutes later, it was heading south on the Gulf Freeway with 14 cops in tow.

By 9:15pm, there were more than 30 patrol cars. The suspect's tire shreds and he's going really slow. It kind of looked like suspect Michael Jones was a pace car in a NASCAR event. Towards the end, he was just rolling backwards a few miles an hour with dozens of police cars caravanning behind him.

He'd soon be driving backwards, and once he stops, at least 20 cops were swarming around the car. You can see how many guns are drawn.

"This particular chase did not appear to need the anywhere near the number of units you saw at the end of the pursuit," said Ferrell.

Entire swaths of Houston were left nearly unprotected. HPD records obtained by 13 Undercover show response times to calls for help that hour were more than 30 minutes.

"We do feel that by first review to have been some unauthorized units in that," said Ferrell.

We knew one way to see what happened. HPD's own satellite tracking system could show us all the units on the Gulf Freeway when the chase ended. And each officer would have to document the their role in chase in their work cards.

However, we found at least eight patrol officers who didn't acknowledge even joining chase. One southeast patrol officer shows a dispatch, a holdup panic alarm on Arbor, but he took a long detour instead. We could see his journey down the Gulf Freeway for the big chase. Isn't technology a wonderful thing?

His response time to the panic alarm was more than an hour.

"There may be explanations for some of these units, but our quite honestly, our policy doesn't envision having a pursuit with that may HPD cars involved," said Ferrell.

Capturing the whole chase on video was a film crew from the TV show, 'Cops.'

"I think it is very unlikely that the majority of the units had any idea that they had somebody from the film crew w there," said Ferrell.

No word on how long the investigation will take, but don't be surprised if the next big police chase doesn't have quite as big of a police caravan.

You can read the Houston Police Department's chase policy here.

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