802 – Emergency Equipment
The nature of law enforcement tasks on occasion require a deputy to engage vehicular emergency warning equipment either for the purposes of vehicle pursuit or answering high-priority calls for service. The utilization of this equipment is dangerous for all concerned: the deputy, the person being pursued, and the public. The decision to use this equipment shall be made only after weighing all consequences that could be expected, or anticipated to result, from such actions. [CALEA Standard 41.3.1]
Weather conditions, traffic flow, time of day or night, and geographical area shall be analyzed. The importance and significance of the apprehension, contrasted against the hazards involved, shall be thoroughly considered.
When a decision to utilize emergency equipment has been made either for the purpose of pursuit or answering a high-priority call for service, the dispatcher shall immediately be notified, and all available emergency equipment will be employed.
The deputy must be aware that he or she shall be held accountable for any carelessness or incidents that may result from his or her actions.
A vehicle pursuit shall be abandoned when the hazard becomes too high, exposing the deputy, the violator, or the public to unwarranted risks, or when conditions clearly indicate the futility of further pursuit.
HCSO vehicles shall not be used for forcing a pursued vehicle off the roadway or engaging in other techniques that unduly raise the risk of collision.
Emergency equipment utilized for escorts related to approved extra employment is permitted without prior supervisory approval.
HCSO personnel will not utilize emergency equipment when unauthorized personnel are aboard the vehicle (e.g., prisoners, citizens, etc.).
If an incident such as a non-contact crash or traffic-related issue results that is reasonably attributed to the use of emergency equipment, a supervisor shall investigate the circumstances of the incident and forward a written report to his or her immediate supervisor and the bureau commander.
The privilege to utilize emergency equipment shall be subject to the conditions as stated in the Texas Transportation Code. The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle, when responding to an emergency call or when in pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law, may exercise the privilege set forth but is subject to the conditions herein stated:
- Proceed past a red or stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as necessary for safe operation,
- Exceed the maximum speed limits so long as he or she does not endanger life or property, and
- Disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions.
The exemptions herein granted to an authorized emergency vehicle shall apply only when such vehicle is making use of audible and visual signals meeting the requirements of this section. The foregoing provisions shall not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons, nor does such provision protect the driver from the consequences of his or her reckless disregard for the safety of others.
The following is a list of the most common calls that might be considered for utilization of emergency equipment:
- Assist an endangered deputy or officer,
- Major crash,
- Pursuit of a fleeing vehicle, or
- Any assignment where immediate threat to life or bodily injury exists.
This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:
April 21, 2009