Internal review finds Midland officer involved in pursuit violated policies

Internal review finds Midland officer involved in pursuit violated policies
Officer Jake Churchwell (Source:
Officer Jake Churchwell (Source:

MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - The Midland Police Department (MPD) found officer Jacob Churchwell was in violation of several policies during a high speed chase.

Churchwell had just graduated from the probationary program in October and was on his own for less than a month when the accident happened.

Findings from the internal review said Churchwell did not properly assess criteria required before engaging in the pursuit, did not notify the dispatcher of the pursuit, operated the vehicle in a manner and at a rate of speed in conflict with general orders and was not wearing a seat belt.

MPD said this was Churchwell's first vehicle pursuit and his supervisor believes these oversights were due to a lack of experience.

Churchwell was recently moved to Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado, to continue his rehabilitation.

Family tells us Churchwell broke his vertebrae and may have lost his ability to walk.

MPD said due to Churchwell's condition they are not discussing any disciplinary action.

Below are the policies MPD said Churchwell violated:

Chapter 3; Section 8; Pursuit Policy


In assessing whether to initiate, to continue or to discontinue a police pursuit, the police officer, supervisor or any other authorized person monitoring the pursuit must continually assess the below listed factors, and how they influence the effect of the pursuit -- on the balance of public safety.

When an offender flees from an officer, the officer is faced with a decision of whether or not to pursue the vehicle. In making this decision, officers shall consider the following, if known:

A. Nature of offense committed;

B. The availability of other methods of apprehension;

C. Extent to which the offender may be identified;

D. The manner in which the violator is operating the vehicle prior to and/or during a pursuit;

E. The presence of passengers in the pursued vehicle which are not suspects;

F. Present abilities of the officer;

G. Knowledge of previous activities of the offender;

H. Existing traffic conditions;

I. The length of time or distance involved in the pursuit;

J. Direction of travel; e.g., toward or away from densely populated areas, school zones, etc.;

K. Age of the offender; e.g., inexperienced juvenile driver vs. adult driver;

L. Roadway and weather conditions.

Chapter 3; Section 8; Pursuit Policy V-B2      
Immediately notify the dispatcher of the pursuit and give a full description of the vehicle and occupants, direction of travel and the reason for the pursuit;      
Chapter 3; Section 14; Police Vehicles; V

B. Vehicles shall be operated in such a manner and at such a rate of speed so that the driver, by use of ordinary care, can possibly avoid collisions with vehicles, objects or persons. Unsafe, negligent or reckless driving is not permitted. 
C. All occupants are required to use seat belts as required by State law. Supervisors may grant exceptions for specific situations in which they deem efficiency of operations outweighs the safety benefit.

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