Chase Enders: Police Spike Strips Tested! ""

By | August 31, 2017

If You Can't Catch 'Em, Trap 'Em

From the September 2017 issue

A police chase is one of the best forms of live television—we all secretly root for the bad guy, hoping to see Bo and Luke Duke–level skills emerge as the perpetrator rides into the sunset unscathed. Rarely is that the case, though. Certainly, running from the police is a terrible idea and we do not condone it. It puts the lives of innocent civilians and underpaid officers at risk. That’s why the following pursuit-terminating tools exist. Let us examine:

Stinger Trooper

Stinger Trooper

Price: $499

Hand-deployed spike systems are the most common way of slowing a fleeing vehicle. The Stinger system from Federal Signal can be thrown across the road or pulled across by the attached 40-foot rope; the former technique requires training and practice. The Stinger is compact, roughly the size of a briefcase, and weighs nine pounds. The reusable, durable, and flexible plastic modular base holds 110 1.8-inch hollow steel spikes, all of which are easily replaceable. When deployed, the unit stretches 15.5 feet and uses rocker arms to tilt the spikes into the tire at the correct angle, ensuring maximum penetration. Our testing revealed that running over spike strips in real life is nothing like what you imagine. There is no crazy explosion. The car doesn’t go flipping through the air. The spikes just cause a controlled air leak. Our front tires went flat 20 seconds after collecting nine spikes. The Stinger system is a low-cost and effective way of taking out tires, but there’s one problem: To retract the device, the officer using the system can’t be more than 40 feet out of harm’s way.

Stinger Trooper

NightHawk

NightHawk

Price: $2995


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Arizona-based Pacific Scientific Energetic Materials Company takes traditional hand-deployed spikes to a new level with its remotely operated NightHawk system. Within its waterproof Pelican case are 10 Stop Sticks, each 15 inches long and containing 15 spikes, which are linked together to extend up to 15 feet. From up to 100 feet away, an officer can deploy the system: A replaceable aluminum launch tube ($175) fires a three-pound drogue, which pulls the strip across the road and drops it in the path of the unsuspecting criminal, all in under two seconds. Once the perpetrator runs over the strip, the system’s operator can remotely activate a drill motor to retract the strip, also in under two seconds. A standard 18-volt battery powers the system. Both of our Mitsubishi Eclipse’s front tires, as well as its right rear, were fully deflated within 40 seconds, suffering a combined nine punctures. The NightHawk’s high cost might keep this model out of the hands of some law-enforcement departments, but it is a small price to pay to better protect officers.

NightHawk

Stinger Trooper

ArrestNet

Price: N/A

This prototype, also from PacSci EMC, represents the future of roadside vehicle immobilization. Also powered by an 18-volt battery, the deployment pod contains an onboard nitrogen supply and a net rolled up in ripstop fabric. When remotely activated, nitrogen stored at 2300 psi inflates tubes sewn into the fabric, rolling it out and laying it flat and firm across any surface to reveal an outlaw’s worst nightmare: a leading edge of 96 tire-deflating, barbed stainless-steel spikes that are attached to a 16-foot-by-16-foot net made of Dyneema, a high-strength poly­ethylene material. With the Eclipse traveling at 50 mph, driving over the net sounds like an airbag exploding. Full entanglement required just 0.5 second and 37 feet, stalling the engine, locking up the tires, and bringing the car to a stop in 207 feet. There’s no escaping the net; driving backward only makes things worse. Once production begins in late 2017, the system will be contained, like the NightHawk, in a waterproof case capable of being left on the roadside—near border crossings, for example—for extended periods of time.

Stinger Trooper

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