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Intersection safety for back-up units



September 19, 2005

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Dr. Richard Weinblatt Weinblatt's Tips
with Dr. Richard Weinblatt

Tip: Intersection safety for back-up units

When I teach Vehicle Operations in the Basic Law Enforcement Academies, I tell the recruits that the second police vehicle through the intersection during a priority run or pursuit is not the safer one; rather it is the more dangerous place to be.  Drivers hear the sirens and see the patrol car go through and then assume the coast is clear.  They are not looking for and often do not hear the second responding unit.
 
The second police or sheriff's vehicle, who is probably calling out the pursuit to enable the first unit to concentrate on being primary depending on local agency policy, should increase his or her reactionary gap, slow down and, when appropriate, stop. 
 
I also tell them to change the siren tones to differentiate them from the primary unit (two tone as opposed to the primary unit's yelp or wail tone), and (very importantly) to turn their head from side to side.  This action allows them to visually clear the intersection and break any tunnel vision that they may have developed while fixating on the unit ahead of them. 
 
Additionally, the first unit should keep rotators going in their light bar, but deactivate any rear facing flashing emergency lights that could blind the officer in the second car.  Those rear facing flashers can be deadly for the following police officer or deputy sheriff at night, in fog, or on a dirt road.

 

About the author

Dr. Richard Weinblatt is a criminal justice educator, former police chief, police media commentator and an instructor in multiple disciplines. He has earned Florida Criminal Justice Standards certifications in general law enforcement topics, firearms, defensive tactics, and vehicle operations, as well as instructor certifications for Taser, pepper spray, and expandable baton. He holds the Certified Law Enforcement Trainer (CLET) designation from the American Society for Law Enforcement Training (ASLET) and is a certified AFAA Personal Fitness Trainer. Dr. Weinblatt is Dean of the School of Public and Social Services & Education/Assoc. Professor of Criminal Justice at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis, IN.  He previously served as Director of the Institute for Public Safety at Central Ohio Technical College near Columbus, OH, Professor and Program Manager for the Criminal Justice Institute at Seminole Community College near Orlando, FL, and Chairman of the Public Services Dept./Criminal Justice Instructor at South Piedmont Community College near Charlotte, NC. Dr. Weinblatt has worked in several regions of the country in reserve and full-time sworn positions ranging from auxiliary police lieutenant in New Jersey to patrol division deputy sheriff in New Mexico to reserve deputy sheriff in Florida and police chief in North Carolina. Dr. Weinblatt has written extensively on law enforcement topics since 1989. He had a regular column in Law and Order Magazine for a decade and he has also written for Police, Sheriff, American Police Beat, Narc Officer, and others. Dr. Weinblatt has provided media commentary on police matters for local and national media including CBS Evening News, CNN, MSNBC, HLN, and The Washington Post. Dr. Weinblatt earned a Bachelor’s degree in Administration of Justice, a Master of Public Administration in Criminal Justice, an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree in Educational Leadership and a Doctorate of Education. Weinblatt may be reached through www.TheCopDoc.com.






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