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Dallas police suspend bait car program

Related Story: Texas man steals police car, kills 1

The Associated Press

DALLAS — Dallas police have halted their bait car program while they investigate why officers couldn't disable a stolen decoy vehicle before it was involved in a crash that killed an elderly woman.

During a news conference Tuesday, Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle said officers saw the bait vehicle shortly before the accident Monday afternoon. They called for dispatchers to hit the kill switch but an error message came up, presumably because the accident had already occurred, Kunkle said.

Officers cannot ask for the kill switch to be activated until they have the decoy car in sight and believe it's safe to turn off the engine. They don't have the ability to remotely activate brakes on the vehicles, Kunkle said.

"Our policy, which we are reviewing, is we don't direct a bait car to be shut off unless officers see the vehicle, because we want to do that in an area and manner as safe as possible," Kunkle said.

Annie Tovar Reyes, 83, died of injuries suffered in a crash with a bait vehicle in north Oak Cliff. The stolen bait car struck the driver's side of her car, police said.

Eddie Ramirez, 28, faces charges of felony theft and murder in her death, police said.

Ramirez was being held without bond. Jail records do not show if he has an attorney.

Bait cars have resulted in 245 arrests since the program began in 2004, officials said.

"We still think the bait cars are a very, very valuable tool and a safer way to arrest auto theft suspects than almost any of the other alternatives," Kunkle said.

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