Re-evaluate PIT

Published 8:33 pm Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Granted, Attapulgus resident Latricka Tearse Sloan shouldn’t have made a U-turn when she approached a road safety check Saturday night.

Granted, the 32-year-old shouldn’t have been driving while her Florida driver’s license was revoked.

Granted, the mother of four should have wore her seatbelt.

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But, did it necessitate the use of potentially deadly force?

That’s essentially what the use of a precision immobilization technique (PIT maneuver) amounted to on Saturday by, granted, a trooper just doing his job.

According to Georgia State Patrol’s policy on using the PIT, troopers, “in the performance of their duty, must use only the force that is necessary to bring an incident under control.”

According to the policy, Georgia troopers are authorized to use tire deflation devices and rolling road blocks to stop a vehicle that refuses to stop for lights and siren.

It continues: “The precision immobilization technique (PIT maneuver) may be used when troopers in the pursuit determine that the fleeing vehicle must be stopped immediately to safeguard life and preserve public safety.”

It continued that “the PIT maneuver is not considered ‘deadly force’ when executed by properly trained members under reasonable and prudent circumstances.” Troopers receive eight hours of PIT training annually.

The Decatur County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t allow deputies to use the PIT maneuver. During any high-speed chases, deputies must receive a supervisor’s authorization prior to a deputy making pursuit. It can also be called off at any time when safety—anybody’s and everybody’s—may be at risk.

Is there such a check or balance within GSP?

Apparently not.

According to the GSP’s policy, “[troopers] must comply with existing laws governing vehicle pursuits. At the same time, they must use sound discretion and good judgment in each pursuit. It must be understood that every violator will not be apprehended. In some situations, the most professional and reasonable decision would be to terminate a pursuit in the interest of their own and the public’s safety.”

The Georgia State Patrol’s criteria for using a PIT is too open-ended and nebulous.

The policy as is needs to be ditched, and more control, as well as a checks and balance, needs to be instituted.