Charles County Sheriff's Office to Train to End Car Pursuits Quickly, Safely

LA PLATA, Md. (Dec. 2, 2007)—The Local Government Insurance Trust (LGIT) has awarded a $7,680 grant to the Charles County Sheriff’s Office to fund a Precision Immobilization Technique (PIT) training program. John Burrell, LGIT’s executive director, presented a check to Sheriff Rex Coffey at a meeting of the Charles County Commissioners in October.

Deputies would perform the PIT maneuver to quickly and safely end a police chase. The technique requires a deputy to intentionally use his or her vehicle to physically force a fleeing vehicle from a course of travel in order to stop it. Pursuits generally lasting 25 minutes using traditional methods can be reduced to four minutes with little or no damage to the police cruiser or the fleeing vehicle.

“Police chases are an unfortunate part of police work but one of the greatest benefits of the PIT maneuver is we can drastically reduce the amount of time we spend pursuing a fleeing vehicle,” said Sheriff Rex Coffey in a statement. “I am grateful to LGIT for providing the funding to support a training program because as traffic increases in Charles County, our officers become more likely to encounter pursuit scenarios.”

Just last week, one man died and another was critically injured in Calvert County when a Maryland State Police trooper chased three men in a stolen vehicle. The vehicle crashed shortly thereafter in Dunkirk. According to police, the men were wanted for the attempted felony theft of merchandise from a Wal-Mart store in Prince Frederick.

As its name suggests, the Precision Immobilization Technique is a specific technical maneuver and it requires advanced practical training prior to use. Already, the Sheriff’s Office has four personnel who are certified to provide PIT training. The LGIT grant will enable the Sheriff’s Office to purchase safety equipment for four vehicles to be used for PIT training purposes. The equipment includes a roll cage and seat back supports to protect the officers in training, as well as guards to protect the vehicles and allow for their repeated use.

The LGIT was founded by the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) and the Maryland Municipal League (MML) to provide liability and property self-insurance to Maryland towns, cities, and counties. LGIT is a non-profit association authorized by state law, wholly-owned and managed by its local government members.

In the event of property damages or liabilities resulting from a police chase, LGIT would be responsible for paying the damages attributed to the county. Thus, the PIT grant can be considered an investment to reduce the probability of future claims.

So far in 2007, the Sheriff’s Office has participated in 35 police chases. In 2006, officers participated in 38.

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