Apr 6, 2022 - News

Westview residents raise concerns over police chase PIT maneuver in neighborhood

 Illustration showing a PIT maneuver between a blue police car and yellow civilian car.
A Precision Immobilization Technique (PIT) maneuver calls for a police car chasing a fleeing vehicle to match its speed, and then bump and gently steer into the vehicle’s rear quarter panel. This forces the fleeing vehicle to spin out and come to a stop. Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Westview residents are concerned after police performed a PIT maneuver in a residential area to stop a fleeing vehicle with a 9-year-old child inside.

Driving the news: A Georgia State Patrol trooper performed the technique Monday morning to end the pursuit of a man accused of stealing the car from nearby West End.

Why it matters: While PIT maneuvers can be effective, “they can be dangerous if not done properly,” says Dean Dabney, a criminology professor at Georgia State University.

Catch up quick: After the vehicle was reported stolen, Atlanta and Fulton County police and state troopers searched for and found the car nearby. Officers attempted a traffic stop, but the driver fled, police say.

  • A state trooper performed a low-speed PIT maneuver to end the pursuit, GSP tells Axios.
  • The 9-year-old who was in the car during the chase was transported to an area hospital as a precaution, Atlanta police said in a statement.

What they’re saying: Jason Hudgins, former president of the Westview Community Organization, tells Axios that he understands Monday’s action was an “extenuating circumstance” because a child was kidnapped, but it’s concerning to see state troopers perform PIT maneuvers in residential areas.

  • “We’re really sensitive in Westview to chases happening in our community,” he said.
  • During a 2016 chase, a stolen vehicle crashed into a car in Westview, killing a grandmother and two children.
  • Last year, a vehicle ended up on the front lawn of a Westview home after a PIT maneuver was used to stop a chase, Hudgins said.

Of note: In January 2020, Atlanta police enacted a zero-chase policy after a series of deadly collisions involving stolen cars.

  • Parts of that policy were changed last year to allow police to pursue vehicles with a supervisor’s OK if they know a suspect has committed certain felonies or that their escape poses a danger to the public.

Hudgins says he wants the Georgia State Patrol to abide by no-chase policies that are enacted by local departments if they are operating in their jurisdictions.

  • “We have a policing agency that’s not really accountable to us at the local level making decisions that could impact this neighborhood very deeply,” he said.
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