PIT maneuver can turn car chases around

In a recent story about a pizza delivery driver's stolen car and the subsequent chase, police said a "PIT maneuver" was used to get the fleeing driver to stop. What is that? Care to enlighten the rest of us?

— No name given

Enlightening is our specialty, dear reader. Have a seat.

A PIT maneuver is a technique police use to end a car chase, a hoped-for "knockout" move that gets the vehicle they're chasing to stop so they can arrest the driver.

"At slower speeds under 35 (mph), police will use this technique to end a pursuit, to cause a car to spin out," said Lt. Mike Budreau of Medford police.

Here's how it works: the police car pursuing a vehicle has the goal of making its front quarter panel kiss the rear quarter panel of the vehicle it's chasing. The officer has to turn it with the hoped-for endgame of spinning the car 180 degrees.

"Usually when the car's spun, the police car that caused it to spin will park behind it, and other cars will park on the sides of it," Budreau said. "The rear tires will break traction. We get training on this, so we know how much steering we need to input."

Knowing just how much force is needed is key, police said. Too little applied can mean the car will spin only 90 degrees.

"It's important that we use enough force that spins it all the way around."

This may sound like a "last-resort" act, but police said it's not.

"If we have an opportunity, we will take it," Budreau said. "It causes very little damage to the police cars and the suspect vehicle if done right."

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501 or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com.

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