A string of car chases involving drivers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area fleeing law enforcement raises the question: “What are police officers thinking when they find themselves engaged in hot pursuit on Dallas roadways?”
One of the most recent such incidents was the chase that led to the death of Grand Prairie police officer Brandon Tsai, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
NBC DFW reported that there had been plenty of recent examples of police chases. For example, as recently as earlier this week, two teens in Fort Worth were killed in a rollover after a road rage incident led to a chase.
Last week, a wrong-way chase in Dallas County saw suspects weaving through traffic and stopping briefly to enter a different stolen car before resuming the getaway attempt.
Finally, at the beginning of the month, two men were arrested in a chase that led through several different cities. Once again, the men switched cars, but with a baby, and finally ran into a preschool.
These examples showcase that individual law enforcement departments guide officers on how to deal with police chases, Matt Clem, deputy director for the Institute for Law Enforcement Administration, told NBC DFW.
“Officers go through a two-factor process of weighing the need for public safety and the need for justice,” Clem said. “What I will say is that most policies do a great job of addressing both of those needs while also understanding that they have to allow officers time to address and learn what the situation is.”
Traffic stops are particularly dangerous for officers, Clem said, because they do not necessarily know who is driving.
“First of all, officers do not initiate pursuits; violators initiate purists,” the deputy director reminded.
“I think what most people fail to understand is that when weighing those benefits or those risk factors, the decision on those traffic stops is that Timothy McVeigh was stopped on a traffic stop,” Clem said. “He was apprehended following the atrocious bombing in Oklahoma City on a traffic stop.”
Clem, who worked in North Richland Hills with a police captain who was shot by a bank robbery suspect 20 years ago, said that an officer would not know at the time whether he was stopping someone who might be a bank robber.
“They think they’re being pulled over because we know they just robbed a bank, which wasn’t the case,” Clem explained. “They’re being pulled over for the fictitious license plate.”