New tool available to law enforcement during high-speed chases could save lives

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Car chases are almost as common as a 7 day forecast on local news. Every day, somewhere in the United States, someone tries to outrun police.

It is a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 11,506 bystanders, passengers and police have been killed in police pursuits since 1979.

"It really hit home. It always does in the highway patrol family when something like this happens," said retired Trooper Bill Hughes.

Last month, OHP Lt. Heath Meyer was putting down stop sticks when he was struck by another cruiser and died more than a week later in the hospital.

"You are supposed to throw them with your foot on the string and wait for the bad guy and reach down and yank them out of the way so you don't get the good guys. That puts the officer in a very dangerous position to do that." said Hughes.  "It is heart breaking. The thing is, he's out there trying to do his job, trying to help the public."

But now, Arizona company Pacific Scientific Energetic Materials has come up with a much safer way to deploy stop sticks.

"It's like play station. It's that simple," said Marketing Manager Bryan Stacey.

Using a shotgun-like tube and ten 15-inch spike strips, officers can launch the stop sticks from 100 feet away and end the chase.

"After our interview with the suspect, he was like, 'Where were you guys?' So, it's also stealthy," said Stacey.

With a loaner car from Arrow Wrecker Service and the help of qualified trainers at OSU OKC's driving school, we recreated a high speed chase and put this new technology to the test.

The 30-pound "suit case" was placed on the pavement and in a fraction of a second, the stop sticks were deployed remotely.

In our demo, 3 of the 4 tires were flattened and the chase was over in less than a minute.

"The first goal is saving lives. The second is getting the bad guys," said Stacey.

At $1,500, the technology is about 3 times the cost of traditional stop sticks.

But already, 300 law enforcement agencies have bought them in an effort to stop the danger for the public and police.

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