Dallas Co. Reviews Chase Policy

County officials involved in three pursuits in 24 hours, two with serious injuries

Dallas County officials said they were already reviewing their pursuit policies before three chases in 24 hours this week raised questions about the safety of high-speed pursuits.

Two of the chases resulted in serious injuries. Constable deputies pursued a man Tuesday morning who hit several other vehicles at Beltline and Conflans roads. And a man in a pickup truck broadsided a vehicle that was being chased on the border of Richardson and Garland on Monday morning. The driver said he didn't see the chase coming.

A third chase began in Irving early Tuesday morning and was picked up by Dallas County sheriff's deputies as it continued on Interstate 30 into Dallas. No one was injured in the low-speed chase.

The county sheriff and constables are elected officials who set their own policies, but commissioners reviewed and approved the current chase policy.

"It’s time to reassess, and if there’s changes should be made, then we can look at that," County Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield said.

The current county policy allows officers to use their discretion about pursuing a suspect.

"A lot of things dictate whether they will or will not," said Precinct 4 Constable Sgt. Michael Delara. "It has to do with the weather, conditions at the time, the type of traffic -- is it heavy, is it light, is it a school zone, is it not."

Commissioner Mike Cantrell said relaxing the police could send the wrong message to offenders.

"If the criminals know that all they’ve got to do is get in a car and outrun the police, they don’t have to worry about being caught," he said.

Commissioner Maurine Dickey agreed.

"Let’s not blame the law enforcement, let’s blame the criminal for this," Dickey said.

Dallas police restricted chases to the most serious violent crime suspects several years ago and recently reported a sharp decline in crashes and injuries from the resulting sharp decline in chases.

The city also posted a steep drop in crime at the same time, and police officials said their restricted policy did not result in the crime increase that some critics forecast.

Dallas City Council members have asked county law enforcement officials to adopt the city’s policy when operating within the city limits.

"We need to see everything that’s involved -- exactly what the Dallas Police Department did and the other major police departments around here, what sort of policies they have, as well," Mayfield said.

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