DALLAS - The Dallas police bait car program was temporarily suspended after police lost audio, video and the ability to disable a stolen bait truck Monday.
The incident left Dallas police commanders scrambling to figure what caused them to be unable to remotely disable the truck so they halted the bait car program and pulled all the vehicles off the streets.
Assistant Chief Paul Stokes, who commands the patrol division, says he has ordered inspections of all the vehicles be inspected. After each inspection, the car will be returned to the streets to be used in the bait car program.
Stokes declined to say what caused Monday’s glitch.
“I am concerned anytime any of our programs don’t go as it’s supposed to,” he said. “It has caused concern, but we took immediate steps to bring all the bait cars in and evaluate the process.”
The incident began about 2 a.m. Monday when police say Billy Ray Scott stole a bait truck in Deep Ellum. Back in the Fusion Center, where they monitor the bait cars, they lost all contact with the truck and couldn't turn it off.
The chase ended with Scott running into a gate at Fair Park. When he tried to ram a squad car, an officer opened fire on the truck and critically injured Scott, police said.
“It is troubling because it's an officer safety issue, not just a citizen safety issue,” said retired Dallas police Lt. Tony Crawford, who previously worked in dispatch and in Fusion. “It's very serious. If It breaks down, you could have an incident like we had back in 2008.
Crawford was assigned to dispatch when Eddie Robert Ramirez took a stole a bait car and killed 83-year-old Annie Tovar Reyes. He was later sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Police suspended the program that time, too.
A review found miscommunication between police delayed the shutoff of the car. Changes were made to prevent it from happening again. The deadly mistake cost the city $245,000 to settle.
Crawford says the program is an effective tool to prevent car theft.
“It gives the suspect that time to stop and time think, ‘Is this vehicle that I’m climbing into a bait vehicle?’ he says. “It even reduces crime in areas where you don’t even have a bait vehicle. They can put a sign out and say there’s a bait vehicle in the area.”
The entire incident that occurred Monday remains under investigation including whether the officer violated the department’s policy when they initially pursued the fleeing bait truck. DPD’s chase policy only allows officers to chase for violent felony offenses.
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