June 25th, 2024

Police weigh various tactics for fleeing drivers

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on April 1, 2022.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Staff Sgt. Woods presents the 2021 Fail to Stop annual review and analysis to the Police Commission during their March monthly meeting on Wednesday at city hall.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The Lethbridge Police Service presented their 2021 Fail to Stop annual Review and Analysis to the Lethbridge Police Commission during their monthly meeting Wednesday at City Hall.
Staff Sgt Christy Woods explained to the Commission the report was based on incidents where an officer would identify a traffic violation, turned their lights on to stop a driver and they decided not to stop.
“Then there’s some critical decision making. At that point they need to weigh the seriousness of the offence versus the risk to the public, to the drivers, the occupants, to the officer in the vehicle,” said Woods.
Woods said that after that assessment is done, the officer would decide to pursue further or not. If they deem the risk to the public to be higher than the seriousness of the offence, they will actually terminate their pursuit.
Woods said that 55 per cent of the incidents reported in 2021 were fail to stop.
She also spoke about another technique used by LPS to reduce risk of pursuit that is called Vehicle Intervention Technique (VIT).
“These are techniques that are preventive in nature… an example of these are simple boxing, when two police cars are placed in front and back of a vehicle anticipating that person might try to drive off,” said Woods.
She said another technique they use is pinning which was implemented in 2019 and is the most successful with low risk.
“Less risk of damage, less risk of injury. Traditional boxing which has been used for years, but it allows gaps, which allows the subject driver to cut around and escape,” said Woods.
She said it is sometimes dangerous when officers are outside with vehicles trying to effect the arrest.
Woods said those techniques are mostly used in commercial areas, like parking lots or on the side of the street but not as often in residential areas as there is a higher risk to the public due to pedestrian traffic.
“The good thing is, the good news is that consistently 99 per cent of the time, people stop for police in Lethbridge,” said Woods.
Woods said next year they will continue to train more officers in the various techniques to avoid pursuits and hope they can get it done with the help of a simulator to reduce cost.
“We actually partnered with Lethbridge College a couple years ago with their VR department but due to COVID the applications for grants has been delayed… to create a driver simulator, reason for that is there’s a cost every time we have to rent a venue to go do this training, it takes lots of instructors and manpower, it’s hard on the vehicles,” said Woods.
She said the brakes get worn, tires get worn so if they could do some of that training with a virtual reality simulator, it will require some cost and time but they would probably be able to provide it more often.
The full report can be found in March 30 Agenda at https://www.lethbridge.ca/living-here/Emergency-Services/Documents/Police%20Minutes/2022-3%2030%20OPEN%20Agenda.pdf

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