HPD discusses policy when initiating a pursuit amid growing number of chases

ByKaren Alvarez KTRK logo
Thursday, January 12, 2023
HPD discusses policy when initiating a pursuit amid growing number
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There are a lot of factors that go into initiating a pursuit. Still, police say they're constantly evaluating and assessing the best and safest methods when initiating a chase.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Police Department is sharing some of the factors officers have to consider before engaging in vehicle pursuits with suspects who refuse to stop. Things like the direction of travel, risk of injury, and an officer's experience -- things HPD says they're constantly evaluating and assessing.

Suppose a chase involves pursuing a vehicle by driving the wrong way or driving a vehicle without emergency equipment. In that case, those are two factors that HPD says can restrict officers from initiating one.

SEE ALSO: 3 families sue City of Houston over deadly police chases in Black neighborhoods

According to a spokesperson, officers initiate an average of three police pursuits a day, and how long those pursuits last varies.

Since the start of January, ABC13 has reported on many of those pursuits. One of them happened days ago near West Alabama Street and Sage Road-the driver who was hit was not harmed.

The most recent happened just before midnight Tuesday, north of downtown Houston, where investigators say the driver took off after being stopped by officers and ended up slamming into a METRORail train.

SEE ALSO: METRORail train derails after crash with chase suspect in stolen car, HPD says

Investigators say neither the suspect nor the passengers were seriously injured. Those two incidents, and others, prompted ABC13 to look into how police chases are handled.

"We look at all our chases in a critical way; I don't want to be the chief that says, 'You know what, we don't want a chase,' because when you stop chasing, criminals go crazy," HPD Chief Troy Finner said.

According to statistics from HPD, over the last three years, on average, less than one-half of 1% of traffic stops result in pursuits.

SEE ALSO: 12-year-old girl dies days after New Year's Eve police chase ends in fiery crash in W. Houston: HPD

When it comes to how pursuits are initiated, HPD says the decision depends on the ability of an officer, supervisor, or commander to continually assess the need to pursue versus the risk of injury involved in engaging in the pursuit.

They add that they're constantly researching, testing, and evaluating new products, such as driving simulators to prevent and de-escalate pursuits sooner.