A maneuver that has been used for years has come under fire across the U.S. The PIT maneuver is used by police officers to stop suspects that try to flee, and even though some cities have seen deadly consequences, one department here in our state says they are using it safely.
The “Precision Immobilization Technique” has been used for decades, but the results have sometimes been deadly. According to the Washington Post, this year alone, nine people have been killed using the maneuver. Since 2016, thirty have died.
“It’s a tool that we put under our belt about a year ago now. We certified the whole department,” said McLean County Sheriff JR Kerzmann.
Sheriff Kerzmann says he understands there has been scrutiny around the practice but it has proven to be effective for the department. In the maneuver, officers use their cars to push the fleeing vehicles rear end sideways, sending them into a spin.
Kerzmann said, “When we do deploy a pit, its because the situation is getting so dangerous, the public is at extreme risk, officers are at risk and we want to end a dangerous situation immediately.”
Kerzmann says in the last year, they have had more than 10 high-speed chases in the county,
and they did use the pit maneuver once and it was successful.
“The vehicle went in the opposite lane of traffic toward oncoming vehicles and needed to be stopped immediately” added Kerzmann.
Another deputy recalls a time when the technique would have been useful.
“We were going through some cornrows and she turned and I couldn’t see her and I turned into the area and I struck her vehicle,” said Deputy Aaron Matties.
Over 70 percent of the chases in McLean County are unprovoked and include reckless drivers.
Sheriff Kerzmann says when it comes to the people of the county, he was hired to do one job — protect and serve.
Sheriff Kerzman says the PIT maneuver is not always there go to. They practice other techniques to stop suspects like using spike strips and barricades.