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Dallas Police Halt High Speed Pursuits and Fire Five Officers

By Bill Zeeble, KERA reporter

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-514680.mp3

Dallas, TX – Marla Crockett: Let's start with the change in the pursuit policy. Why is Chief Kunkle instituting it, and how big a deal is it?

Bill Zeeble: Chief Kunkle said high speed car chases have likely been around for 100 years, at least since the appearance of cars. So he's bucking a century of tradition and training. Basically, the only vehicle pursuits permitted must involve violent felons. The department says of 715 car pursuits in the past few years, only one or two involved such felons. On the other hand 1 in 4 led to car wrecks, & caused 185 injuries, including 6 deaths

Kunkle: The impact on changes will be unmeasurable but fundamentally, my position became, ultimately, my job is to try to insure city is as safe as possible and I believe safety will be enhanced

Crockett: What other impact might this policy have?

Zeeble: The chief will let other cities know it won't pick up high speed pursuits at the border, unless the chase involves a violent felon. He thinks it may prompt police in cities throughout North Texas to adopt this policy.

Crockett: The Chief also announced that he fired some officers for recent inappropriate behavior. What's that about ?

Zeeble; The chief cited several instances that made the news. One involved police at Dallas Love Field, who considered retaliation after a negative news story about them. Another involved a 23 year veteran and supervisor in lower Greenville who harassed a citizen. And another involved officers and
a tow truck incident. In all cases, the chief fired police because he said they crossed the line of high standards demanded of peace officers.

Kunkle: I recognize officers will make mistakes, that part of what I look at is motivation. If they just made a mistake but thought they were doing right, that's' far different from officers who knew what the rules were but intentionally violated them. To me the highest violations are officers who abused power of their office. That's what I thought we were dealing with in this instance

Zeeble: Responding to the firings, Malik Aziz, head of the Black Police Association, said if the swift and certain terminations are just, he's ok with that. Regarding the pursuit policy, officers may not agree with some decisions, but if they can respect and understand them, they're ok. In this case, Aziz likes putting public and officer safety at the top of the list

Crockett: Thanks Bill. KERA 90.1 reporter
Bill Zeeble's email address is bzeeble@kera.org

Bill Zeeble