Changes to be made to HPD use of force policy

By Gianna Caserta - Reporter

HOUSTON - The Houston Police Officers Union and Chief Charles McClelland are making a revision to a use of force policy.

The policy, which was signed by McClelland and released Sept. 25, stated "Effective immediately, officers shall not discharge a firearm or soft-impact weapon at a moving vehicle unless a person in the vehicle is immediately threatening the officer or other person with serious bodily injury or death by means other than the vehicle itself."

The policy, as it reads, means that an officer could not fire at a suspect who was trying to run the officer or someone else over.

The head of the police officers' union said the policy released on Sept. 25 was not what the chief intended.

"We were alarmed by it because it was not what was originally discussed whenever we were in the command staff meeting," Ray Hunt, Houston Police Officers Union president, said.

McClelland responded Wednesday afternoon to anger about a policy he signed and released five days go.

"This type of police action should only take place in the most rare occasions," McClelland said. "It's going to say shooting at moving vehicles is extremely dangerous and should only be taken in the most extreme circumstances when an officer has no other option to protect himself or the public."

"The reason for that is because, let's say that a crazed suspect has a child or innocent person in the car with them, we don't want deadly force being used in the vehicle unless there is no other alternative to prevent an officer getting injured or a third person," Hunt said.

But former police Officer Tom Nixon said the revision still puts the officer and innocent bystanders at risk because it creates hesitation in the officer's mind.

"They are going to be searching their own mind for whether they have other options in a very high stress split-second decision matrix that will result in him getting hurt or killed," Nixon said.

The new policy, which is expected to be released soon, will state that officers should not use deadly force to stop a moving or fleeing vehicle, unless someone is in imminent danger.

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