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KERA News and the Fort Worth Report explore the behind-the-scenes decision making that goes into high speed police chases in North Texas and their sometimes deadly impact on officers, suspects and innocent bystanders.

Fort Worth reports few violations of confidential police chase policy

Dash camera footage from a Fort Worth police vehicle shows an officer confronting a man following a car chase in the West 7th Entertainment District Jan. 27, 2024.
Fort Worth Police Department
Dash camera footage from a Fort Worth police vehicle shows an officer confronting a man following a car chase in the West 7th Entertainment District Jan. 27, 2024.

Over the past six years, nearly 1 of out every 3 Fort Worth Police Department car chases have caused a crash.

Fort Worth officers initiated 1,331 pursuits from 2017 to 2022, for an average of four chases a week, according to data from the department’s use of force reports analyzed by the Fort Worth Report. Of those, 432 resulted in an accident.

But crashes don’t necessarily mean an officer did anything against protocol. Only 89 of the thousand-plus pursuits — or 7% — resulted in sustained allegations against an officer, according to annual reports released by the department.

People like Nefertari Mundy, whose older brother Andre Craig was killed in a Fort Worth police vehicle pursuit last July, have been left with questions about the policy governing chases. Thus far, police have refused to release it. Instead, the department is suing the Texas attorney general in a bid to keep the documents confidential. That refusal to release the policy makes it impossible for outsiders to determine whether an officer violated policy, or suggest changes to it.

In a text message Jan. 30, Mundy said the department’s efforts to keep the policy hidden were “reprehensible.”

“Their lack of transparency is concerning, especially considering how many innocent citizens of Fort Worth have been killed or injured during police pursuits that did not (involve) them,” Mundy wrote.

Now, some of those policies are in the public eye. Court records filed as part of lawsuits in 2018 and 2023 offer several versions of the policy that police are trying to keep confidential. The most recent lawsuit includes portions of a policy that states it was last updated Jan. 12, 2021. The current policy was last updated on the same date, according to an email from a police department spokesperson.

The 2023 lawsuit documents include only two pages of the eight-page policy, and several portions are redacted. Most of what is revealed lays out definitions related to pursuits; it also includes requirements for post-pursuit reporting.

A lawsuit filed in 2018 after the death of a Fort Worth woman, Gaudencia Meza, offers an exhaustive look at what the policy resembled before the 2021 modifications. The lawsuit documents include the department’s pursuit policies from 2018 and 2019, without redactions. The Fort Worth Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.

Revelations about the documents come as pursuits rise in Fort Worth annually. In 2022, Fort Worth police chased 308 vehicles, up from 267 in 2021 and 146 in 2020. Data for 2023 has not yet been released by the department.

Pursuit tactics provision raises questions about fatal crash in July 2023

The 2019 policy identifies nine factors officers must consider when deciding whether to chase a car, including road and weather conditions; vehicle and pedestrian traffic; seriousness of offense; whether other people are in the suspect’s vehicle; whether the officer knows the identity of the driver; and whether the geographical location of a chase (such as proximity of schools or residential areas) would increase risk to citizens.

The policy also specifies that “traffic violations alone or suspicion of a vehicle being stolen are not sufficient reasons to engage in a pursuit.”

Fort Worth’s 2019 policy further specifies that officers should use caution when entering an intersection, and should not proceed until they can see that the intersection is clear and there is no oncoming traffic.

That policy provision raises questions about the police pursuit that killed Craig. In that incident, Craig’s vehicle collided with a police car that ran a red light while chasing a different car. Craig was ejected from his car and died on the scene, according to police. Police have not released details about the investigation into that pursuit, including whether the officer violated policy by entering the intersection while there was oncoming traffic.

Several pursuit tactics are forbidden under the 2019 policy, including trying to force the vehicle off the road; shooting at the vehicle, unless the driver is using deadly force against an officer or other person, or using the vehicle to inflict harm against someone; pursuing a vehicle on the wrong side of the road; and erecting a barrier to prevent the vehicle’s escape. Officers must also leave enough space between their vehicle and the vehicle they are chasing to allow them to brake in time to prevent collision.

Police research and policy organizations like the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), Lexipol and the Texas Police Chiefs Association provide guidelines for how police departments should craft their pursuit policies, but it’s mostly up to each department’s discretion.

In a July 2023 interview with KERA, Chuck Wexler, executive director of PERF, declined to comment on specific incidents or the policy in Fort Worth. Generally, he said, the key word when it comes to a police chase is “proportionality” — that is, weighing whether the crime is worth the risk of the pursuit.

“What we would say is, ultimately, the issue with any use of force is the sanctity of human life,” Wexler said. “Like, is it worth putting police, the suspect and the third party at risk? What would justify that risk? And we would say that that risk should be at a high level. In other words, engaging in a pursuit should have some standards.”

The 2019 policy includes rules for terminating a pursuit. They outline a code of conduct similar to what Wexler suggests — the pursuit should be terminated when the risk in continuing is greater than the perceived public safety benefit of catching the suspect immediately. Additionally, in most cases, the pursuit should be terminated if the suspect’s identity is known and it would be feasible to arrest them at a later date.

But terminations of pursuits are rare. Data from the police department shows that over a period of six years, 246 of the total 1,331 chases ended because an officer terminated the pursuit. In 2022, the first year that the department released data breaking down exactly what ended each pursuit, officers called off 17% of the total chases. By comparison, 29% of the chases that year ended in crashes.

Few differences in previous Fort Worth policy and other North Texas department policies

Fort Worth has argued that its pursuit policy has more detail on specific tactics than those already made public by other North Texas police departments, making it more dangerous to release to the public.

“It’s my responsibility to keep my officers safe,” Fort Worth Police Chief Neil Noakes told the Fort Worth Report in September. “They’re in enough danger as it is and if I give our tactics away, and make their job even less safe, I don’t need to be the chief of police.”

A review of the 2018 and 2019 policies found few differences between Fort Worth and other departments in the region.

The 2019 Fort Worth policy is constructed similarly to a model policy released by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. In addition, Fort Worth’s 2019 policy includes the same information as several already released publicly by departments like Dallas and Grapevine.

All three departments’ policies include provisions for when pursuits can be initiated, supervisor roles, prohibited tactics, when the use of tire deflation devices is appropriate and post-pursuit protocols. Language concerning pursuit initiation factors and prohibited practices are very similar in Fort Worth and Dallas pursuit policies.

Mundy, who read the older policy in a newspaper article, said it seems like the only difference between Fort Worth and other cities is how Fort Worth officers executed the policy.

“Now we know why they’re fighting so hard to keep it hidden,” she wrote in a text. “Revealing it will show the public what we’ve been suspecting for some time: There are grave and systemic issues with regards to how FWPD’s pursuit policy is actually practiced. Those issues led to the death of my brother and other innocent citizens.”

Fort Worth’s refusal to release its current policy also runs contrary to recommendations from a 2023 guide published by the Police Executive Research Forum, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. In that guide, the organizations recommend agencies make their pursuit policies available online, and provide as much information as possible.

“A community’s expectation of transparency is entirely reasonable when it comes to an agency’s vehicle pursuit policy,” the guide’s authors wrote.

In addition, the organizations called on agencies to engage with residents and community groups through presentations, town hall meetings and other avenues to discuss the pursuit policy. The guide acknowledged concerns that publishing all details about a policy could put officers in danger, but still urged agencies to err on the side of transparency when safe to do so.

“Agencies should examine their policies and move to publicly share as much information as possible regarding the pursuits policy,” the authors wrote.

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here. Emily Wolf is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at or @_wolfemily

This article first appeared on Fort Worth Report and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Emily Wolf is a local government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. She grew up in Round Rock, Texas, and graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in investigative journalism. Reach her at for more stories by Emily Wolf click here.
Toluwani Osibamowo is a general assignments reporter for KERA. She previously worked as a news intern for Texas Tech Public Media and copy editor for Texas Tech University’s student newspaper, The Daily Toreador, before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is originally from Plano.