Safety Behind the Wheel
with Travis Yates
Tire deflation device safety tips
By Capt.Travis Yates
The latest tragedy in Floria is yet another example of the extreme danger that law enforcement officers face during vehicle pursuits and roadway operations. Tire deflation devices are an important tool in combating these dangers. While these tools can ultimately make a pursuit safer for the community, there is an element of danger in using them.
This "blind corner" is an example of an officer able to get concealment (to the left) and throw the spikes into the road.
Officers should take great caution when utilizing any tire deflation device:
• Location: The location where the devices are used is very important. Officers should strive for both concealment and cover from the suspect vehicle. When both cannot be achieved, cover should be used. An officer's car is not adequate for this. Deployment near a bridge abutment or a large fixed object is ideal.
The deployment should never be rushed. Speeds, especially at night, are very deceiving. If an officer can see the suspect approaching, they must assume the suspect can see them. Officers should plan and sometimes guess the route of the suspect and deploy at a fixed location. This should be done long before the suspect is approaching.
Most tire deflation devices have a long cord or string. Officers should use as much as they can so they can get away from the roadway during deployment. Stop Sticks consist of 80 feet of cord and every bit of it should be used.
The above scene is an ideal location for deployment. Note the guardrail and bridge abutment.
In addition to the suspect, the roadway is extremely hazardous in tire deflation deployments. Officers should never enter the roadway in front of vehicles.
Tragedies such as the death of California Highway Patrolman Douglas Russell will always make us question our use of equipment, tools and tactics. While we should always strive to make the jobs of our officers safer, we will never be able to completely eliminate the dangers involved in our work. While tools such as tire deflation devices have the potential to be dangerous to officers, their successful use can be very effective in producing a much safer environment to the community during a police pursuit.
This balancing act will remain difficult for each agency and officer. Officer Russell and his family have made the ultimate sacrifice for each of us and this country. Please pray for them and for each officer as they conduct their duties.
2 Tenn. officers die deploying tire deflation devices
Ark. trooper struck by another trooper deploying tire deflation devices