Before 1996, Officers deploying spikes had stopped thousands of pursuits, and with a perfect safety record. The new tool was safe and effective and gave rise to the popularity of the Spike-Strip.
After 1993, new spike systems were introduced. The new products promised quicker deployment and ease of use. Individual deployment was a new deployment style where spikes were deployed without a cord attached and tethered to the officer. Officers would deploy the spikes into the path of the target. The pursuit Officers would drive around the spikes. The deployment officer(s) would then re-enter the roadway to clear the spikes off the road.
Deployment Problem #1 (Individual Deployment)
Since the officer could not predict where to deploy, he was more effective to wait and target the car at point blank range. Another tactic was to use a patrol car as a road block and deploy into the adjacent lane to funnel the target vehicle over the spikes. These new deployment styles started a new trend in spike deployment.
A spike system not tethered to a cord and in the traffic lanes is an unsecured system. Unsecured systems is the primary cause of incidents where deployment officers have been struck by fellow officers while clearing the spikes out of the roadway.
Circumvention problem #3. Unsecured System versus secured system
The unsecured system is the primary cause for drivers avoiding spikes and losing control of vehicles. Since systems were deployed without a cord, officers were taught to go around the spikes to avoid tire deflation.
The result of the ’93 deployment tactics.
The police tool which had such a perfect record, was on its way to developing a questionable reputation. Many in Law enforcement adopted the “quick and simple” deployment methods over the old style systems and tactics. The first of a series of incidents with tire spikes began and they all could be categorized in these three areas.
1) Deployment incidents: Point blank deployment meant the officer exposed himself to the target car. The mid air deployment of a colorful deflater served to warn the target and begin the initiation of avoidance tactics. In 1996 the first incident where an officer was struck by a vehicle occurred.
2) Recovery incidents: deployment without a cord meant someone would enter the roadway to recover the spikes, this was the beginning of officer striking officer type incidents.
3) Circumvention incidents: A tire deflater in the path of the patrol car was a obstacle of questionable options all which could prove to be deadly. Pursuit units were trained to around the spikes, in 1996 the first officer to lose her life circumventing spikes occurred.
In the tab labeled Liability 96, we define the changes made, and why these changes had little effect, since this time the FBI placed a Safety advisory on the use of Spikes.
Trooper Kilgrows design and operation proved to be safer, however as the training and procedures changed, they would effect the way kilgrow’s and all other brands of spikes were used. We expose this problem, in our training.