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Friday, December 5, 2008

17 Dallas police officers violated high-speed chase policy, report finds

Seventeen officers violated the Dallas Police Department's high-speed chase policy in a September pursuit that left an officer seriously injured, an internal affairs investigation has concluded.

None of the officers, including the one who was injured, were authorized to be involved in the 28-minute chase that began in Lake Highlands when a driver tried to run over several officers during a confrontation in an apartment parking lot.

Two pairs of officers also face discipline for having turned off their squad cars' in-car video cameras in violation of the department's policy, according to the report obtained through an open-records request.

What discipline the officers may face has not been determined. But the chase, along with an October incident in which a squad car fatally struck a 10-year-old child while racing at least 29 mph over the speed limit without sirens or lights on a darkened road, prompted the department to tighten its procedures on how officers respond to emergencies.

Senior Cpl. Glenn White, president of the Dallas Police Association, said he believed that much of the criticism aimed at officers has been unfair second-guessing.

"Officers are going out there trying to do the best they can. God forbid when something happens, because when it does, everybody's up for scrutiny and we're all criticized," Cpl. White said.

Police Chief David Kunkle said he had not yet been briefed on the results of the internal investigation and could not comment on it.

A panel formed by Chief Kunkle has separately made several recommendations to improve the department's management of police pursuits. One calls for a station supervisor to monitor the speeds of those officers rushing toward the chase or following it. [Mark Godsey]

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