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'Bait car' program reinstated by Dallas police

Dallas police have reinstated the "bait car" program that was suspended for a month after one of the vehicles was involved in a crash that killed a grandmother.

The bait cars are used to lure vehicle thieves, who steal them, and are then followed by police officers with on-board tracking devices. The renewal of the program was announced Wednesday.

Senior Cpl. Kevin Janse said the program has been "widely successful," but officials wanted to review it following the June 2 crash that killed 83-year-old Annie Reyes.

"We realize there were some things we could have done better," Janse said. "We think the changes we've made will prevent this type of accident from happening again."

Reyes was fatally injured when her 2000 Honda was broadsided by a 1994 Honda bait car that, police said, was stolen by Eddie Ramirez, 28, in the Oak Cliff area of southwest Dallas.

Officers were following the bait car, but there was no chase, according to police. They said that Ramirez accelerated the car when he saw a police car and then crashed into Reyes' car.

Bait cars are also equipped with devices that can disable the engines by remote control at the request of officers in the field.

"The old policy was that an officer was asked to get behind the stolen car prior to requesting it to be disabled," Janse said. "If the suspect took off, the officer would often times have to hurry to catch it prior to requesting termination.

"Now the officer only has to have the car in sight to request disablement if the suspect starts to drive crazy."

Jance added that officers now have "direct communications with the person with his finger on the kill switch." That means they no longer have to go through the regular dispatch system, which should get the bait car disabled quicker.

Ramirez on Wednesday was still in a Dallas County jail, charged with murder and theft, Janse said.

Those charges top a lengthy criminal history which includes convictions for evading arrest, burglary of a vehicle, burglary of a habitation, theft and possession of marijuana.