802 – Emergency Equipment

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I. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines regarding the use of emergency equipment on vehicles, such as light bars and sirens.

II. Definitions

Audio Tone Alert – An audio signal which is utilized by dispatch and precedes the general broadcast of priority zero (0) and priority one (1) calls for service.

Priority Zero (0) Response – The Priority Zero (0) call response is to be utilized primarily for Assist the Officer type calls.  The priority Zero call is dispatched with an audio tone alert. All units within the designated dispatch area are to respond directly to the Assist the Officer calls using emergency lights and siren with appropriate regard for the safety of others.

Priority One (1) Response – The deputy shall proceed directly to the call for service using emergency lights and siren with appropriate regard for the safety of others. The priority one call is dispatched with an audio tone alert.  No deputy may run priority one (1) calls silent, except in special circumstances such as hostage rescue, etc. where the siren may escalate the situation.  In these cases supervisor approval is required prior to running silent. [CALEA Standard 41.2.1]

Priority Two (2) Response – The deputy shall proceed directly to the call for service.  Use of emergency equipment is not authorized.  The deputy shall obey all traffic laws.

Priority Three (3) Response – The deputy shall proceed to the call. Use of emergency equipment is not authorized.  The deputy shall obey all traffic laws.

III. Policy

Employees must only activate their vehicle’s emergency equipment for a traffic stop, pursuit, high priority call for service, to advise of a traffic hazard, or any other time it may be reasonable. Employees must consider the consequences that could be expected from activating emergency equipment before activating such equipment. [CALEA Standard 41.3.1]

The use of emergency equipment is not an authorization to drive recklessly and disregard traffic signals/laws or public safety. Employees will be held accountable for reckless driving.

A. Activating Emergency Equipment

1. Unless circumstances dictate it would be safer or reasonable to use only one option, employees must use both their lights and siren together whenever activating emergency equipment. A siren may be unnecessary if blocking a roadway to protect an accident scene, for instance.

a. Use of emergency equipment is prohibited when civilians are onboard, including detainees.

b. Only Deputies certified in the Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) maneuver and using emergency equipment equipped with the Tahoe/Suburban Pit Bar Elite XD wing wrap with, supervisor approval, may perform the PIT maneuver on a vehicle to end a pursuit.

c. Emergency equipment used for providing escorts or traffic control during approved extra employment is permitted without prior supervisory approval.

2. A supervisor must investigate the circumstances of an incident, which may be reasonably attributed to the use of emergency equipment. An example of this may be if a traffic accident occurs in an intersection while a patrol vehicle was attempting to clear the intersection with its emergency equipment.

a. A supervisor must forward reports of these incidents to his or her own immediate supervisor and the Bureau Commander.

3. Priority Response Designation for Dispatched Calls for Service [CALEA Standard 41.2.1]

a. Priority Zero (0) response to an Assist the Officer call for service shall require the deputy to operate his marked vehicle using emergency lights and siren. Units responding to priority zero (0) calls shall utilize their MDT to indicate their intent to respond to the Assist the Officer call.  Units responding to priority zero (0) calls are not required to seek permission, provide their starting location and are not limited by the maximum number of units authorized to run priority one (0). 

b. Priority one (1) response to a dispatched call for service shall require the deputy to operate his or her marked vehicle using emergency lights and siren. Example: Burglary in progress

i. It shall be the responsibility of the deputy to use caution when operating his or her vehicle in a priority one status.

ii. Both the deputy and the supervisor shall evaluate the driving condition of the perspective roadways that may be affected by inclement weather, construction, etc.

iii. Only two marked vehicles shall respond to a priority one call for service using emergency lights and siren.  The deputy shall immediately notify dispatch that he or she is responding priority one and advise dispatch of their current location. This will enable dispatch and the on duty supervisor to determine the two closest units who shall respond priority one. 

iv. It shall be the responsibility of the deputy, supervisor, or dispatch to terminate or downgrade the priority one status of a call when it becomes a question of safety for the deputy or the public. The supervisor may direct more than two units to respond priority one, if deemed necessary.

v. The deputy shall respond priority one to a call for service only as directed by dispatch or a supervisor with the exception of a fresh pursuit.

c. A priority two (2) response to a dispatched call for service shall require the deputy to proceed directly to the call, as an immediate response may be necessary to prevent the situation from escalating. The deputy shall not use emergency equipment and shall obey all traffic laws.

Examples of priority two (2) calls:

i. Burglaries in progress involving vacant or unoccupied structures with no imminent life threatening situations,

ii. Natural DOA,

iii. Attempted suicide not in progress,

iv. Medical Emergency,

v. Major accidents, exigent circumstances my require upgrading to priority one (1) for Major Accidents with approval by a Patrol Supervisor or Watch Command (Dispatch),

vi. Disturbance calls not involving weapons,

vii. 911 hang-up calls,

viii. Alarms, other than panic alarms,

ix. Suspicious person or vehicle, and

x. All other in-progress calls where life threatening conditions do not exist.

d. A priority three (3) response to a dispatched call for service shall require the deputy to proceed to the call.  Emergency equipment are not authorized for these call responses. The deputy shall obey all traffic laws. The exceptions (to signal requirements) provided in Chapter 546.004 of the Transportation Code do NOT apply.

Examples of priority three (3) calls:

i. Recovery of stolen vehicle,

ii. Abandoned vehicle,

iii. Theft,

iv. Minor accident

4. Responsibility of the deputy and supervisor [CALEA Standard 41.2.1]

a. The supervisor can override the priority response assigned to any call by dispatch.

b. It shall be the responsibility of the supervisor to ensure the deputy utilizes the proper response to a dispatched call for service.

c. It shall be the responsibility of the primary responding deputy or supervisor, upon arrival on a scene, to advise dispatch of the situation and request additional deputies, downgrade the response code or disregard any other responding deputies.

d. It shall be the responsibility of the deputy and supervisor to terminate priority one response status when inclement weather or other adverse traffic conditions exist.

B. Special Considerations

Use caution activating emergency equipment. Using emergency equipment may be dangerous for both the public and the employee. Careless use of emergency equipment may cause unintended outcomes, like a traffic accident, and will be investigated.

1. Before using emergency equipment, consider:

a. Weather conditions,

b. Traffic flow,

c. Time of day,

d. The geographical layout of the area, and

e. The importance of an urgent response versus the hazards involved.

2. The use of emergency equipment will be subject to the rules of the Texas Transportation Code, Policy #803 – Pursuits, relevant standard operating procedures, and any other applicable part of the Department Manual.

Revision

This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:

April 21, 2009

July 21, 2021

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