The precision immobilization technique, which is commonly referred to as the PIT maneuver, is not a new concept in law enforcement. The PIT is and has been utilized by law enforcement agencies throughout North America for quite some time. The fundamental principle is sound: The intentional contact between a patrol unit and a fleeing vehicle in an attempt to force the vehicle to stop.
When applied properly, the trajectory of the violator’s vehicle is reasonably predictable and the chance for injury to the violator is minimized. The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) has embraced these principles and has created policies and procedures to implement the technique. This task has not been taken lightly by the Patrol. A tremendous amount of research has been conducted by FHP, including an evaluation of the experiences of other law enforcement agencies that have utilized the technique.
The other issues that were reviewed and studied were the application of state law(s), case law, use of control, and the amount of resources needed to initiate the training. The Florida Highway Patrol Training Academy was charged with the task of training every member of the Patrol. First on the agenda was getting trained by other PIT instructors to properly train our troopers.
The Academy staff eagerly approached this task. Within a very short period of time, members of the Academy staff were trained. The second task was retrofitting marked FHP cars with the ability to withstand countless amounts of vehicle-to-vehicle strikes. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office was instrumental with the architectural design chosen by the Academy staff. The three initial patrol units were retrofitted with ¼“ x 6” steel plates, which took the place of the bumpers. Fuel cut-off switches were added for emergency situations, as well as replacing the seatbelts with five-point harnesses.
There are seven more patrol vehicles waiting to be retrofitted for the training. The final task was creating the curriculum and lesson plan that will be utilized by staff to train all FHP personnel. The first recipients of the PIT training will be the 117th Recruit Class. This training will commence on July 13, 2009, and when members of the 117th Recruit Class report for duty on August 9, 2009, they will be trained to effectively initiate the precision immobilization technique.