Do no chase policies go too far when police are not allowed to go after kidnapped children who are in immediate danger?
DALLAS - The president of Dallas County’s Constable Association is defending the actions of two deputy constables who were flagged down for help as two children were allegedly kidnapped and ultimately murdered by their father.
Police said on Monday morning 32-year-old Naim Muhammad abducted his wife and two young sons as they were walking to school. The woman managed to escape and flagged down two deputy constables from Constable Derick Evans’ Precinct 1.
The deputies radioed Dallas police for help but did not pursue Muhammad’s vehicle.
“I believe that they did exactly what they were supposed to do,” said Deputy Constable Rene Christian, president of the Dallas County Constable Association. “There were no lights or sirens in that car and that precinct had a no-chase policy, period.”
Some have questioned why the law enforcement officials didn’t at least follow the suspect at the speed limit to see where he was going.
“That would actually be part of the definition of a pursuit or chase. They just could not,” Christian said.
Christian said the deputies had no choice but to stay put, citing liability issues had they chased and then injured someone else in the process.
She said protocol calls for constables to radio dispatch, who then contacts a supervisor who makes the call on what happens next. She didn’t know if that had been done in this case, but said it all comes back to state law – no lights or sirens, no chase.
Christian said she believes the deputies would have absolutely been in trouble if they disregarded policy and their supervisors. But attorney Kevin Clancy, who has defended officers in court, disagrees. He said any citizen could have followed that car as long as there were no traffic violations.
“I don’t think any jury would let them get fired over that situation,” Clancy said.
And if the deputies still had Muhammad’s vehicle in eyesight when his wife flagged them down Clancy said the law actually allows them to get involved.
“63.009 specifically allows law enforcement to get involved when a child is in danger and that’s exactly what should have been done,” he said. “If they saw the car then they should have at least pursued without running any lights or violating any speed laws. If they could have gotten behind it and gotten a number and told police where they were they may have been able to save these children.”
Christian said the deputy constables in Precinct 1 don’t have lights and sirens because of budget cuts. She said when the traffic division was cut so were the lights and sirens.
Other law enforcement officials who wished to remain anonymous said it has nothing to do with the budget. They added law enforcement officials should always be on duty and always try to help when there is a crime.
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