Getting up to speed with spikesPublished 6:39pm Thursday, June 12, 2014
There was a time when Pike County’s law enforcement officers rarely had to deploy spikes to catch someone driving excessive speeds. Pike County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Willie Cope said the department would use them once or twice a year.
“Now, it’s three or four times a month,” he said.
Every Pike County Sheriff’s deputy carries a set of spikes in his vehicle to stop the reckless drivers before they harm themselves or someone else.
After a few recent incidents, Sheriff Russell Thomas scheduled refresher courses for all of his deputies. Spike deployment is one of many courses deputies take throughout the year. “Sheriff Thomas always keeps his people well-trained,” Cope said.
Small groups joined officers from Brundidge Police Department and other departments at Lockheed Martin’s training facility. They practiced deploying and quickly retrieving the device. They practiced how to handle the pursuit, including when and how to slow down while approaching spikes in the road without tipping their hand to the suspect.
Training officer Kevin Childs had each officer practice with a spike-less training set. He compared the set to slinkies or Legos, easy to use and just as easy to pack away. Deputies practiced two forms of deployment. For occasions when time was of the essence, they were shown how to quickly slide the spikes in the same motion someone would use to bowl.
“We try to train them to deploy spikes once a year,” Childs said. “This is just to keep everybody current. The more they train, the more it becomes second nature.”
In the last four weeks, spikes were deployed four times in Pike County, most recently to stop a 14-year-old who had stolen a vehicle in Enterprise.
“Fourteen … that’s a baby,” Cope said. “Man, he could drive. Those video games are teaching them how to drive like a racecar driver.
“Most of the cars that have been chased were coming from out of town,” Cope continued. “And we’re just going to make sure that we stop them before they come into the city or a well-populated area.”