Spike strips remain one of safest, most effective ways to end police pursuits
Some police methods don’t change for good reason: Spike strips remain one of the most effective and safest ways to slow down a suspect fleeing in a vehicle.
The trick is deploying them.
About 30 officers from area police departments gathered Tuesday in a Pittsburgh Mills parking lot in Frazer to practice.
“The public today is very concerned about police pursuits and the aftermath and this is a method to intervene to reduce the risks involved in those pursuits,” said A. David Berman of the Wilkes-Barre-based Berman LE Group, which led the training.
Frazer police Chief Terry Kuhns said spike strips are one of the most effective ways to de-escalate and end chases more safely.
Spike strips don’t stop cars in their tracks but slow them down substantially after the front tires are punctured several times by stainless steel spikes that are nearly 2 inches.
“It’s a design that works and that hasn’t failed over the years,” he said.
The spikes are studded on an accordion-like frame that can quickly expand 15.5 feet across two lanes of road after police throw the device across the road.
The trick is to unwind a rope attached to the spikes that police carry with them to some out-out-sight-place. Then after a suspect passes, the police officer quickly pulls the rope and retracts the spikes, sparing police and other cars from running over the spikes.
After practicing spike-strip drills in the Pittsburgh Mills parking lot, officers used real spike strips on a battered 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier that was delivered by Bastin’s Truck Parts in Springdale.
Officers stood at the ready and quickly threw out the strips. The Cavalier sped over the spikes, and then officers jerked back the strips to get them off the road before a pursuing police car could roll over them.
Shortly after the Cavalier hit the spikes, the sound of the flapping rubber was audible a quarter-mile away.
“It’s super easy,” said Frazer Officer Tommy Trieu. “And it looks reliable.”
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary Ann at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.