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August 01, 2007

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Travis Yates Police Driving:
Safety Behind the Wheel

with Travis Yates

Tire deflation device safety tips

By Capt.Travis Yates


This "blind corner" is an example of an officer able to get concealment (to the left) and throw the spikes into the road.
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.

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.

• Deployment
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.

• Distance


The above scene is an ideal location for deployment. Note the guardrail and bridge abutment.
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.

• Roadway
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.


Additional Information:

2 Tenn. officers die deploying tire deflation devices
Ark. trooper struck by another trooper deploying tire deflation devices

 

About the author

Major Travis Yates is a Commander with the Tulsa (OK) Police Department. His Seminars in Risk Management & Officer Safety have been taught across the United States & Canada. Major Yates has a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He is the Director of Training for SAFETAC Training and the Director of Ten-Four Ministries, dedicated to providing practical and spiritual support to the law enforcement community.

Contact Travis Yates







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