Thursday's pursuit of carjackers through the streets of St. Pete lasted 17 minutes. Friday, the vice president of the PBA, which represents rank-and-file officers, said the chase could have ended sooner.
"Yes, there were possibilities where that could have been ended way before it got 17 minutes and all over the city," said George Lofton.
He was referring to the "PIT" maneuver, or Precision Immobilization Technique, in which a cruiser taps the rear quarter panel of a suspect vehicle to spin it.
"Here's a maneuver that can be used to end it and make it safer for everybody else," Lofton said. "It's time we go ahead and take that step forward and be proactive in ending it instead of letting the bad guy dictate how all that goes."
St. Petersburg officers are well aware that nearly every surrounding law enforcement agency allows PIT maneuvers, which require extra front bumpers and specific training.
The command staff also knows that.
"I can't speak for other agencies," Assistant Chief Luke Williams said. "I know with all of the pursuits and the studies that we've had, basically it's been a decision of the staff to this point that we're not going to do those."
Setting police pursuit policies always requires balancing the risks of injuries to innocent bystanders, officers and the suspects.
"With our city being as congested as it is and with the potential for injuries to innocent bystanders, we have not gone to that (PIT)" Williams explained.
But Thursday's incident may be a policy-changer.
"Once we get an opportunity to review the pursuit, if we need to address the issue of the PIT maneuver again, obviously in doing our due diligence, we would be remiss if we did not look at it," Williams said.
Lofton said the PBA will formally renew its request for PIT training, probably with a letter to interim Police Chief David DeKay.
"We have an obligation to protect the citizens in the best way we can. Here's a tool and a technique that we can use to do that," he said. "If we're going to continue to push away from the table and not do the best we can to protect the citizens in the best way we can, shame on us."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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