(Video clip of training session attached)
Every three years, law enforcement personnel in the Sheriff’s Department must go through advanced driving training to practice the skills they’d use in a pursuit, whether they have to back up quickly or dodge obstacles.
Law enforcement personnel this month invited the media to see some of the reality-based tactical techniques covered in a daylong course to maintain driving proficiency. All motorists can use the techniques for safer driving, which include:
- “Slow feet” – Don’t stomp on the brake or gas. Instead, apply gradual pressure.
- “Shuffle steering” – Drive with both hands, with the right hand staying just on the right side of the steering wheel, never crossing over the top or bottom, and the same with the left. Using the whole steering wheel reduces fatigue and ensures better control.
- Proper alignment – Reach both arms out straight ahead. You should be just far enough back to hook your wrists over the steering wheel.
- Deep and wide turns – Narrow turns may seem like they save time, but a wider radius is more efficient for laying down power coming out of the turn.
Between Oct. 1, 2012, and Oct. 1, 2013, the Sheriff’s Department handled slightly more than 128,000 calls, not including an additional 50,000 traffic stops where a simple citation or warning was issued. In all, the department entered into 105 pursuits, predominantly when drivers failed to stop. Pursuit distances ranged from one-tenth of a mile to 9.7 miles.
Department guidelines state that the decision to pursue weighs the risk to life or property against the value of apprehending a suspect, taking into account population density, congested roads, pedestrian traffic, seriousness of the offense, and road or weather conditions. About 31 percent of the 105 pursuits were halted as a result of those factors.
“We get into this business to protect people, so public safety is paramount,” said Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. “Having clear pursuit policies and keeping skills sharp through ongoing training helps make sure the public is not placed in harm’s way.”
To watch video of an Oct. 11 training session, please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6aZjPO3LFg