What is the anticipated result of a PIT (TVI) maneuver
executed at 90 mph on a SUV?                      
Most advocates and experts on the PIT maneuver do not recommend the application of the maneuver at speeds in excess of 35-45 mph. The purpose of a PIT is to induce a stall condition on the suspect vehicle and thus bring it to a stop. The purpose is not to shove the suspect vehicle off the roadway or to produce uncontrollable or potentially deadly reactions in the suspect vehicle. Advocates of PIT, and experience seems to verify, maintain that PIT, when performed under the right conditions by trained officers, yields predictable results with a minimum of danger to police, bystanders, and suspects. When speeds go beyond the prescribed level the results are no longer predictable and the forces involved make it unacceptably dangerous for all involved.

Additionally, the instability of high center-of-gravity vehicles is well documented. In fact, good pursuit policy greatly restricts the use of police SUV’s in pursuits for precisely that reason.

In a sense, the PIT maneuver used by the Georgia State Patrol officer on I-95 near Savannah three weeks ago did yield predictable results. The SUV left the roadway; rolled, became airborne and impacted a tree at high speed with a resulting, and not unexpected, loss of life. As surely as if the officer had shot two shoplifters fleeing on foot, he initiated what he should have known was a course of action that was likely to be a death sentence to the occupants of the SUV. This officer took it upon himself to be the judge, jury and executioner to the occupants of the suspect vehicle and by his unprofessional, careless and reckless actions he has the blood of the victims on his hands.

Just as abhorrent are the various bogus justifications of spokesmen for the Georgia State Patrol for the conduct of this officer. They have mortgaged the integrity and credibility of the entire agency in defense of one rogue officer. Officers and agencies who advocate and train the appropriate use of PIT and TVI as safe alternatives to pursuit have much to be upset about as well. Incidents such as this trash much of the hard work they have done to promote the safe and controlled use of the technique.

James Phillips

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