A Houston television station has issued an alarming report that has left many residents worried about their safety. According to the report, since 2008, Houston police officers have been found to be at fault in at least 155 car accidents, and no tickets have been issued to those officers.
In some cases, the city of Houston has fought lawsuits because the officer causing the accident was in the middle of a high-speed pursuit in what is deemed an emergency situation. That was the case for one woman, whose car was struck at high speed as she was proceeding through a green light. But in fiscal year 2011 alone, the city paid out more than $1 million to people involved in accidents.
But in many cases, victims in those accidents have found the city's settlement offers insulting. One man racked up approximately $60,000 in medical bills after his pickup truck was struck by a cop running a red light. The man says the police car's lights and sirens were not on at the time. He rejected an offer from the city, because he said it was far too low.
The police department has said that it is working aggressively to curb the number of accidents that officers are at-fault for, and that just because no tickets are issued that does not mean that officers driving negligently are not held responsible.
While cities continue to debate whether chasing a fleeing car over a minor crime is worth putting other citizens' safety at risk, one thing is certain: Officers should not have the right to drive negligently just because he or she is a police officer.
Source: KHOU, "Police-caused crashes leave victims wanting justice," April 26, 2012