As rush hour traffic began to get into full swing, three Atlanta teenagers decided to steal a car, and police had to figure out how to stop them. The car went through multiple counties for over 30 minutes, when the police decided to put an end to the chase before someone was seriously injured. A Georgia State Patrol (GSP) Officer implemented the Pursuit Intervention Technique (P.I.T) maneuver, spinning the car and safely apprehending the suspects. This maneuver is accomplished when the pursuit vehicle (typically law enforcement) pulls up next to the suspect vehicle, lining the front tires of the first car with the back tires of the second. Trying to decide when, where and if this is the right thing to do can be quite a challenge.
While the origins of the maneuver seem to be debated, the outcome is not. Captain Travis Yates (2004) stated, “As a trainer, I have conducted hundreds of these maneuvers. I have never seen an injury related to the PIT. I wouldn't be able to say the same for Bumping or Ramming.” Scientific study also shows how the P.I.T. maneuver, when done properly, can safely stop a pursuit without deadly consequences. As part of an article in the Law Enforcement Bulletin (2010), David Schultz surveyed participants in the Law Enforcement In-Service Training in Emergency Vehicle Operations and Police Pursuits course at the Minnesota Highway Safety and Research Center. He noted they used the PIT maneuver 1,018 times that resulted in 35 (.03 percent) injuries and no deaths. All of this shows that using this maneuver can bring a car, and the suspects inside, to a halt, without causing permanent damage or injury.
Knowing this would be a non-lethal option, the officers had to decide if there would be an ideal time and place to put an end to this chase. The article “What is a PIT Maneuver? (n.d.)” defines some of the ideal conditions for the maneuver to take place. “A pit maneuver is most effective on dry roads that are clear of traffic and pedestrians… The maneuver works best at speeds close to 35 miles per hour, and when vehicles are of a similar size and height.” Looking back on the GSP officers, they decided to make their move on a freeway onramp in the afternoon sun. The chase had taken them through several residential neighborhoods and crowded streets, so picking the right time to pull this maneuver was critical. They realized, getting onto the onramp, that this might be the last chance they would have before the suspects were on a crowded freeway; which would greatly increase the chances of an innocent bystander getting hurt.
The teenagers in this case are believed to be part of a group that have been linked to carjackings in six different Georgia counties, so getting them off the streets was imperative. In the end, the Atlanta Journal Constitution (2013) noted, “Troopers pulled three suspects from the car and turned them over to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office. The three were taken into custody at the scene.