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Houston Police Departments General Order Revision Subj Motor Vehicle Pursuits 2008

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C i r cu I a r
Houston Police Department


ApTil 14. 2008

NO. 08-0414..064



Attacbed General Order 600-04. Motor V~hide Pursuits. has been revised
policies. procedures. and standards.


meet current

The revisioQS are extensive and some changes are subtle, necessitating a careful reading of the
entire General Order. Employees are held accountable for the information cootained within the
General Orders. Employees will immediately update their General Orders with this version of

Chief of Police
COP' 08-28776

This Circular Is to be Read at ALL ROLL CALLS for five !OS) Coasecutive Days

--- --------

@@(}lJ@[f@U @~@(f
Houston Police Department


Issue DATE:



April 14. 2008


REFERENCE: Supersedes all prior confliCting
Circulars, Directives, and General Order

600-04, dated Sa tember 18, 1995




The departmant places the hIghest value
upon the fafe and aafety of Its officers end
the pUbJic at large. This value must be
accommodated within 8 police officer's
duty to appre~end peraons who have
committed or are committing a violetion
of the law. The methods the department
establishes to enforce the laws Bre in~
tended to minimize the risk of Injury to
office~s and citizens alike.
The driver of an authorized emergency
vehicle will drive with due regard for the
safety of all persons and is responsible
tor the consequences of reckless disre­
gard for the safety af others.

This General Order applies to all class;­
fred and emergency communication per­

The decision to engage in a motor vehicle
pursuit is highly dependent upon the abil­
Ity of an officer, supervisor, or com­
mander to continuallv assess the need to
put8us versus the risk of injury involved
in engaging in the pursuit.


Officers may initiate or continue a purs\Jit
only if all the following requirements are met:

a.	 An

officer in good faith reasonably be-­
lJaves that under the circumstances
the need to Immediately apptehend
the suspect outweighs a clear risk of
harm to the public In initiating or con­
tinuing the pursuit.

b. As required by department policy ann
Texas Supreme Court case law, offi­

Motor VfIh1cItI Punulf. A motor vehicle
pursuit (pur9uit) occurs when an officer
operating an emergency vehicle attempts
10 stop or apprehend 0 suspect who re­
fuses to stop while operating ~ motor vee
hicle. The suspect must exhibit one of
the following types of conduct:

a.	 A willful disregard for personal safety
or the safety of others in an attempt
to avoid arrest.
b.	 A refusal to obey an officer's repeated
signal to stop.

cers must constantly evaluate the risk
find factors involved when initlating Of
continuing , purSUit. Those factors in­
clude, but are not limited to:
•	 The seriousness of the crime to
which the officer responds.
•	 Whether an officer's immediate
presence is necessary to appre­
hend a suspect or to prevent injury
or loss of lite.
•	 Alternative courses of action, if
any. svailable to achieve a compa­
rable result.

~~o @~@[f #600-04 ISSUE DATE:
c.	 In addition to the above factors, offi­
cers will continually evaluate:
•	 Knowledge about the suspect be­
ing pursued. If enough Information
exists to file a warrant, officers
wiU be expected to discontinue the

An exception to this standard is
permissible If 8 supervisor or
commender responsible for over­
seeing the pursuit authorizes the
pursuit to continue based on the
a8sessment of requirements as
listed abo"e.
•	 The observable driving behaVior of
the suspect being pursued (e.g., is
the suspect driving while intoxi­
cated or is the suspect driving

recklessly) •

April 14. 2008

PAGE: #2

be clear to a reasonably prudent offi­
While svaluating aU of the listed fectors,
officers will constantly assess the need to
immediately apprehend the suspect ver­
sus the risk ot in;uring themselves, the
public, or the suspect.

The designated on-dutY field supervisor:
a.	 Will be in command of the pf.Jrsuit.
The field supervisor will immediately
and sllccinctly advise the dispatcher jf
the purl9uit should continue based
upon communication and the assess­
ment of the circumstances.

b. Will monitor all radio communications
related to the pursuit and make every

•	 Relative performance capabilitiea·
of the vahicle being pursued.
•	 Road conditions.
•	 Weather.
•	 Popufation density.
•	 Vahicular and ~edestri8n traffic.
•	 The presence ot other persons in
the police vehicle.
d. Officers	 will continuallv 8SS898 the na­
ture and severity of harm their actions
could cause (including Injuries to by­
standers as well 8S the possibility an
accident would prevent the officer
from arriving on the scene or assisting
in the apprehension of the suspec1J,
the likelihood any harm would occur,
and whether any risk of harm would

effort to ensure only authorized units
participate in 'the pursuit.

c.	 Will continually assess the pursuit and
Its changing clreums1a"ces relative to
the points stressed by tile TeX8S
courts as outlined in section 2 items
"b" and "c" above. Also, periodically,
as prompted bV the dispatcher, the
supervisor will state me pursuit should
continue or direct the pursuit be ter­
d.	 May terminate the pursuit immediately
if it is determined officers have suffi·
cient Information to establish both
probable cause for the criminal activ­
ity and the identity of the suspect,
making the filing of a to-be warrant
feasible. Howe"." this does not apply
to 8 case in which the nature of the
criminal activity (e.g., deadly weapon
involved, serious bodily injUry inflic1ed,

~u @[f@1@:r '600-04 ISSUE DATE:
hostage taken, or B flagrant OWl) Ie
such that the need to Immediately
take the suspect into cus10dy justitia!;
the poaslble risks· to the public result­
ing from the pursuit.
e.	 WlII order any response necessary,
appropriate, and within dEtpanmant
policy to terminBt8 the pursuit.

April 14. 2008

PAGE: #3

continue, then the shift commander will
order termination of the pursuit.

If the shift commander Is unavailable for
any reason, another cn-dutv li~utenant or
division commander from the initiating di­
vision(s) will be designated to fulfill this

Night Commander
f.	 May become Involved in the pursuit If
in close proximi1y and provided the
supervisor's polfce vehicle has emer­
gency equipment.

g.	 Will immediately go to the scene
where the chase has ended and take

sor of any pursuits. If for any reason, a
ranking officer from the dMsion(sJ initiat­
Ing the pursuit is not located, the night
commander will assumB all the manage­
ment responsibilities described above.



Shift Camm~ndD"
The on-duty shift commenderfs) of the
divisionCs) initlating a pursuit wilt be noti­
fied immediatelv by the on-duty Emer­
gency Communications Division (EeO)
supervisor of a pursuit being initiated by
any of their officers.
Although the actuel management of the
pursuit is the responsibility of fle/d super·
visors, the designated shift commander

will assen the reasonableness of continu­
ing the pursuit using the same parameters

listed in section 2 items "b- and "e" of
this General Order.
The shift commander wUI continue to
closely monitor pursuits and maintain
contact with field supervisors and dls·
patchers untIl the event ends.

If at any time the shift commander's

The night commander will be notified
immediately by the on-duty ECO supervi­


sessment indicates the pursuit should not

An officer may initiate or continue a pur­
suit only If all the following requirements
are met. The officer's police vehicle is:

•	 Equipped with working
lights end sirens.


•	 Believed to be in sound mechanical
condition including. but not limited to
brakes, steering, and pollee radio svs­


prisoners, wit­
nesses, suspects. comphtinants, or other
" onpolice per60nnel wilr not be used to
initiate or participate in It pursuit.

A pursuit initiated by a solo unit ,motor­
cycle) will be reassigned to the first arriv­
ing marlced patrol unit. Officers in un·
marked police vehicles, who reasonably
suspect a criminal offense has occurred
and immediate action is warranted, may
attempt to follow a fleeing vehicle until 1I

@@~a @~@rr '800-04 ISSUE DATE:
marked unit with operable emergency
equipment arrives to Initiate the pursuit.


PAGE: #4

Unless the field supervisor approves addi­
tional units. the primary and secondl!'Y
units will be the onty ponce vehicles au­
thorized to pursue 'the fleeing vehicle. A
field superviser may approve additional
units if any of the following siUlations ex­

01ficers initiating a pursuit will promptlV
notify the dispatcher a pursuit situation
exists. The dispatcher witt determine if it
is necessary to switch the incident to an­
other dispatch channel (8.g.• channet
or to keep the incident on the eXisting



b.	 An authorized unit is unable to con­
tinue the pursuit or the dl!pateher has
been informed an authorized unit is
terminating Its invorvemelnt. In this
case, the field supervisor will author­
ize replacement units as needed.


If the pursuit remains on tho exlstJng
channel, all other officers will immediately
refrain from non-emergency radio trans­
mission, on that channel. The Information
transmitted to the dispatcher should in­
clude the following:

•	 Unit number.

•	 r:>resent location..
•	 Whare the pursuit began.
•	 Direction of trave'.
•	 Reason for the pursuit,
•	 Description of the fleeing vehicle (e.g.,
make, model, eetor, license number).
•	 Description and number af occupants
in the fleeing vehicle.
•	 Estimated speed af the fleeing vehicle.
As neces9ary, the dispatcher will promp1
the supervisor managing the pursuit to
con1irm that the pursuit Is authorized to


April 14. 2008


There are an insufficient number of of­
ficers in the authorized units to safe IV
eff8(lt an arrest.

Canine Uni,!:
Upon learning of a pursuit and if iii canine
unit hilS not been designated, the closest
on-duty canine unit will travel toward the
area of the pursuit in anticipation of being
needed. WhEt" pr,ct1cal, the canine unit
will notify 1he dispatcher of its location
and estimated time of arrival.

Officers wilt not:
8.	 Pursue 8 fleeing vehicle by driving ths

wrong way on a freewav.

When notified of a pursuit. the dispatcher

b,	 Pursue iii fleeing vehicle while operat­
ing a vehicle without emergency
equipment or without the emergency
equipment activated.

will designate the initial pursuing Yenicle
as the primary unit. The dispatcher will

c.	 Drive along the side or in front of a


also designata a s8condzuy unit and a
field supervisory unit.

fleeing vehIcle in an anempt to force
the vehlc'e fram the roadway, unless

@®~a @~ ISOO.Q4 ISSUE DATE:

April 14. ·2008


authorized 88 on approved s10pplng
technique (see section 10, Sropping

not limited to trans mining the suspect
vehicle', location and approximate

d.	 Ram or bump a fleeing vehicle in an
attempt to toree It tram the roadway.

c.	 The helicopter crew will relay the roof
numbers of all involved police vehicJes
to the dispatcher.

e.	 Continue a pursuit if the prImary unit,
on-scene police helicopter, or any on­
dutY supervisor ardera the pursuit dis­

f.	 Discharg e a firearm to disable or stOP
a fleeing vehicl. (see General Order
800-17/ Ute of Forae).

g.	 Use a privatelv owned vehicle in any
part of a pursuit or a$


speed, and potential traffic problems.

Befor. any stopping technique is de­
ployed. officers:

MU5t be adequately trained by Train·

ing Division personnel in its proper



h.	 Usa en occupied or privately
vehicle in a roadblock.


•	 Will assess the risk of bodily harm to
bystanders, any passengers in the
suspect's vehicle, themselves. or the
suspect 8S a result of using a stopping
tBchnique versus the threat to t"e
public if the pursuit continues.

The following stopping technique& may
The dispatcher wlll aS81gn a police heli­
copter to all pursuits. If no helicopter ie in
service, the dispatcher will contact the

be used provided th. field supervisor au­
thorizes the use and the techniques are

Helicopter Oivislon and have one dis­
patched to the scene.

ment procedures:

used In accordance with current depart­
8.	 Standanl Roadblocks.

The following procedures will be adhered
to when e police helioopter is involved in
8 pursuit:

a.	 When the helicopter crew has In­
formed the dispatcher the suspect ve­
hicle it in view, the ground units will
modify thair speed accordingly, but
maintain the use of thair emergency

b. The helicopter crew, under the direc­
tion 01 the field supervisor, will moni­
tor the pursuit. This includes, but is

Barricades or
other obstructions set across 8 road­
way to stop or prevent the escape of
a fleeing vehicle.

b.	 Ro1Jing Roadblock$.

Moving police
units pieced in front of and behind the
fleeing vahicre in an attempt to stop
it. This method may be used only if
the suspect is not speeding but is will­
fullV failing to stop.

Extreme caution is urged prior to IJsing
this tactic as jt could expose officers
to dang"r if suspects are armed, co­



~~a ~ '600·04 ISSUE DATE:
tentiallv placing officers in



c. Tire D,,~tJon DflvJt:8&. Devices such

At't'i1 14.,2008


PAGE: #6

The assessment of this informiltion will
be In accordance with th& factors and
variables listed In section 2 items "b· and
"0" of this General Order.

as Stingers and Stop-Sticks designed
to cause the controlled defhttion of a
fleeing \lehlcle's tIres.


DJvtH1Jng TtH:tk:s. On a

Once the pursuit has ended. officers will

freeway, officers may perform a ser­
pentine movement desIgned to slow
the general flow ()f traffic shead of

utilize DPproprlate officar safety tactics
regarding high·rlsk vellicle approaches as

d.	 SJow-SpNd

the freeing vehicle.

Note: Officers will not perform any of the
techniques In this section unless they are
adequatelv trained by Training Civl.ion
personnel in the technique's proper use.

, 1 T.ERMINAnON OF PURs..urrs
Anv of the following personnel may ter­
minate a pursuit:

outlined in General Order 600-34, High­
Risk V.hide Approaches.

If the j)ursuit is not initiated or is termi­
nated without apprehending 8 suspect
and the identity of the suspect is known.
the primary unit will attempt to obtain a
to-be warrant through the appropriate dis­
trict attorney', office prior 1D the end of
the officer's $hift.


•	 Officer In the primary unit.
•	 On-dutV officer holding the rank of
sergeant or above.
•	 On-scene helicopter observer.

Officers will document the pursuit inoi­
dent in a thorough report containing a de­
tailed description of the vehicle, suspect
information if pouibf., other pertll"lsnt
facts, and witness information so an offi­

The decision to terminate 8 pursuit by an
on-duty supervisor other than the field
supervisor managing the pursuit must be
made with the seme diligence as stated
throughout thiS polley.

cer or investigator can attempt to locate
the suspect and file a warrant at t:I later

For instance, en on-dutY supervisor, lieu·
tenant, or commander from the initiating
division(sl or night command captain or
lieutenant with access to video coverage
of a pursuit will assess available inform a­
tlon relative to the nature of th. offense
and other pertinent varIables before mak­
ing a decision to allow the pursuit to con­
tinue or be terminated.

If a decisIon is made not to pursue a
known suspect or It purauit is terminated
in accordance with restrictions set out in
this Genera' Order, officers will still com­
plete a thorough report.
The field supervisor assigned to the pur­
9ul1 will complete the Houston Police De­
pertment Vehicle Pursuit form (see HPO's
Intranet Portal) at the conclusion of the
pursuit. The form will be completely filled

@@V\)~n @~ #600-04 ISSUE DATE:
out and submitted regardless of the dura­
tlon of the pursuit. The completed form
will bEt immediately faxed to th8 com­
mend Cent,r and the field supervisor's
division will maintain a copy. The original
form will be forwarded throuQh the chain
of command to the division's assistant

Emergency Communications Division,
with the approva' of the field superviso,.
will notify outside law enforcement
agencies when this department is In­
volved in II pursuit in the outside
agency's jurisdiction. The person notify-·
ing the outside agency will specify
whether the call is a request for Bsais·
tance or a courtesy notification with no
participation requested.
Officers may become involved In
agency's pursuit Gl1her inside or
HPD's jurisdiction if en HPD field
sor authorizes participation and
the fallowing are true:

any of


14, 2008


After a pursuit has ended, officer. will re­
fer aU metdia requests for a statement to
the designated field supervisor involved in
the pursuit. Upon t~e request of the me­
dia, the desIgnated field supervisor mav
make 8 limited statement to the media or
defer to 8 Public Information Officer (PIO)
or a higher-ranking en-scene supervisor.

.nitial statements wilt be limited to prelimi­
nary factual if'formation and the stat.
menta will bEl in compliance with General

Order 800-02. Media Reladonl. If the me­
dia requests additional information such as
comments concerning policy, supervisors
will contact the on...cJuty PIO or a higher­
ranking supervisor, whichever is appropri­
ate. The PIO or higher-rankinG supervisor
will make the scene of the pursuit and af­
ter receiving a briefing on the pursuit, pro­
Vide statements to the media.

200-08, Conduct and Authority


The other agency requests assistance.

b.	 It is clear the other agency's unit is
unable to request assistance.
c.	 The emergency nature of the situation
dictates the need for assistance,

400·07, Vehicle Use and As.ignMent
400-08, City Vehicle Accidenta
400-10, Unit and Radio Numbering
400-21, MobQe Digital Termlnals
500-01, Effecting AnttIla and Searches
600-03, Genera' Sroade••ta

600-06, Spedal Threat Situation.
60Q..17, Use of force

All department pursuit policIes must be
followed whenever an employee is in­
volved in any pursuit.

600·32, Rid..Along Prog,am
600-34, HIgh-Risk Vehtcle Appro8chus

aOO-02, Media RelatIons
600.07, Criteria for Submitting Incident

Chtef of Police