We lost two more officers killed while deploying spike strips during the past few weeks. This makes a total of four officers this year who have been killed while trying to deploy tire deflation devices in a vehicular pursuit.
Spike strips, also known by the brand name Stop Sticks, are deployed by an officer standing on the side of a road in an attempt to deflate the tires of a fleeing suspect. The problem is the deploying officer is standing in front of a fleeing felon in a speeding car. Even if the suspect doesn’t purposely try to hit the deploying officer, the officer is still in danger should the car veer out of control while trying to avoid the strip.
As a guy who has been struck by a fleeing felon, I can speak from first hand experience that getting hit by a car is neither fun nor desirable.
Nothing we do in police work is 100% safe. But, I wonder if we are needlessly losing officers trying to utilize an unsafe technology. No doubt, spike strips can help end a pursuit, but at what cost?
I am not suggesting we never chase anyone, or that we do away with the use of tire deflation devices, but I do believe there can be better ways of safely ending a pursuit. The StarChase pursuit management system that Randall detailed in the September newsletter is but one example of an alternative to spike strips that can be deployed in a much safer manner.
Take a look at the previous spike strip safety tips I wrote in July, and if you have more to add, please do so in the comments section.
Also, don’t let the thrill of the chase override your common sense when it comes to vehicle pursuits. When the pursuit starts ask yourself if the pursuit is worth putting one of your brother or sister officers in danger when they try to deploy a spike strip. If it is not worth putting them in danger, shut it down and catch them another day.
Officers killed while deploying spike strips in 2011:
- Police Officer Trevor Slot
- Captain John Wayne Haddock
- Police Officer Evan Burns
- Sergeant Brian Dulle