Don't Give Up the Chase
I have just read Brian Wallstin's "Deadly Pursuit" article in the Houston Press [March 10]. As a former Texas peace officer I have been personally involved in four high-speed/high-stress vehicle pursuits, three of which were conducted in excess of 110 mph. I caught all but one of the motorists (each was wanted on felony warrants) and concluded the chases with arrests all 'round and no injuries reported. My knowledge of speed/stress driving is hereby noted.
Texas peace officers are trained in speed/stress driving more than any other state or local police department in the country; FBI statistics will confirm this. I am appalled at the article due to its lengthy attack on HPD's chase policy as well as police officers in general. The article was full of half-truths, backed up only by hearsay and the Desere Foundation's "footwork" on irresponsible legislation in Maryland. The article, I believe, placed blame for these unfortunate deaths of innocent bystanders on the police rather than the fleeing felon, who of his own volition chose to evade the law. Once again, the criminal element is excused for his behavior, regardless of his danger to local citizens and the officer involved in the chase.
Lastly, after re-reading the article, I realize that Mr. Wallstin has never served as an officer nor has he probably been on a "ride-along." It wasn't until I passed through the police academy and joined the "Thin Blue Line" that I really understood the rigors, horror and joy of being a police officer and the work it entails. If you limit the authority of the police and tell them not to chase bad guys (even for traffic stops), you in effect tell the criminal that he can run roughshod over the citizen, at any price.
When a criminal flees in a vehicle, he must be chased down, swiftly arrested and placed in jail. A society that refuses to excise the criminal from our streets, our playgrounds, our neighborhoods, will reap the full terror in the end.
Watch Your Speed
Bravo for Brian Wallstin and the Press for having the balls to write and publish the article about deadly pursuit. It's about time someone in Houston sat up and took notice of these zealots who regularly violate citizens' civil rights under the guise of law enforcement.
Many times I have witnessed HPD careening through my Montrose neighborhood, not pursuing anyone but evidently on their way to something important.
The uniform, badge, gun, squad car and the authority they imply is an awful lot of responsibility to entrust to an individual with a minimum of 60 college credit hours. Our society has given police such a level of authority that they may deprive you of your civil rights or your life. Seems like a good reason to keep them under review.
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Thanks for the Memories
In 1986 I summoned up the courage to do an open-mike set at the Comedy Workshop, as I had always fancied the idea of doing stand-up. Just as my slot approached, Bill Hicks showed up, fresh off of Letterman, and wanted to perform. Of course he was ushered on immediately, and for at least half an hour he had the audience howling. Then I had to go on. I sucked.
I'm awfully sorry that Bill Hicks is gone [News, "Death of a Comic," by Edith Sorenson, March 10]. I have him to thank not only for the laughs, but for the novelty of saying I've experienced first-hand every comic's nightmare.