Newschannel 6 is working to learn more about the officer involved in the fatal wreck. Officer Teddie Whitefield, 29, is currently on leave – recovering from a broken arm sustained in the wreck. He is also subject of 2 different investigations. The Department of Public Safety is investigating the crash, and the Wichita Falls Police Department is conducting an internal investigation.
WFPD Chief Dennis Bachman says it is standard procedure. "Any time we have a situation where an officer or a citizen gets hurt we look at it internally and see if we are following the needed policies or if we need to just improve something. Some of our investigation involves other investigations; The crash investigation that DPS is doing and some of the things we have to wait on to get from them," said Chief Bachman.
The WFPD policy on speeding in a patrol car follows state law. "That's where you can speed to certain types of calls and its up to the officer too, even if its allowable, its a judgement call on them whether or not to do that," said Chief Bachman. The Chief would not comment on whether he felt Whitefield's speed was in line with that policy. The DPS report shows Whitefield was driving at least 80 MPH in the 45 MPH zone at the time of the wreck.
Whitefield is a 6 year veteran of the force. He works with police dogs. He and his canine partner, Ben, were honored earlier this year for excellence at a national police canine event.
Newschannel 6 crews went to Whitefield's residence, seeking to speak with him. A man that answered the door informed them Whitefield was not available. The crew left a note with contact information for Whitefield, should he elect to speak out to Newschannel 6.
With many questions remaining, there was much that Chief Bachman could not speak about, citing the law. Still, he understands citizens want answers. "I know they always think, or some of them think negative about the police when something like this happens, but the officers have the rights just like any other citizen and we have to go through certain processes and there are certain things I can comment on and cannot comment on. That's just the way it is. Its not like we're trying to hide anything, but I just can't comment on some areas there and especially since another organization is doing the investigation," he said.
Depending on the outcome of the investigations, Whitefield could face disciplinary action. If he is demoted or terminated, it would become public information. If he is suspended, it would only become public if he challenged the action.