The Oklahoma Highway Patrol recently made changes to the way state Troopers handle dangerous, high-speed pursuits.
Officials said Friday their pursuit policy is always under review. Troopers on the streets are required to constantly evaluate the risk of continuing or ending a dangerous chase.
This week, Troopers got involved in a chase that started near McLoud on Interstate 40. A Trooper attempted to end the pursuit in Midwest City using a tactical vehicle intervention move or TVI.
“Our intention was to make contact with the passenger side,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol Major Ronnie Hampton said. “Which should have put the vehicle off over to the outside shoulder, but the driver counter steered once the Trooper made contact.”
The truck flipped and kept going. Major Hampton said the TVI was typically used last to end pursuits. Now, the move can be used as a first line of defense.
“Prior to that, we let roadblocks and stop sticks and all of those things play out before we got to the point of a tactical vehicle intervention,” Hampton said. “Now the Trooper doesn’t have to wait and go long distances.”
Another big change to the agency’s pursuit policy is when to pull back on a chase. They will now look to their eyes in the sky.
“The moment aircraft is involved then our Troopers stop actively pursuing,” said Hampton. “That is once our Troopers have radio.”
Hampton said Troopers will continue to trail a suspect in that situation but follow the direction of the aircraft and determine where to stop the driver.
Also, if a pursuit goes over state lines, Troopers are directed to stop if the driver is wanted on a misdemeanor. For more serious crimes, Troopers can stay in the chase over state lines.