Tire deflation devices (TDDs) are the most common piece of equipment used in the management of police pursuits. Used widely across the nation by police agencies, they've been credited with thousands of apprehensions of criminal suspects attempting to use their vehicle as a means of escape.
While the technology is extremely valuable, law enforcement must ensure their officers not only have these devices but that they use them correctly. Like any tool in the law enforcement profession, the proper use of the equipment is paramount to the safety of the officers using them.
Training must be conducted prior to using tire deflation devices in a real world situation. It should include not only the video that comes with the device, but also practical exercises in which officers can practice using them. Ongoing training should be conducted on a regular basis.
Determining a location to properly deploy the tire deflation device is the first step in an incident. Concealment and cover are key here, and officers should use a fixed object like a bridge abutment for protection. Patrol vehicles are not an effective hiding spot. Suspects will often drive towards fixed vehicles or lights when trying to avoid tire deflation devices.
Once the location is decided upon, officers must ensure they have plenty of time for safe deployment. Here, the regular training the officer has gone through will prove decisive. Knowing how long it takes to deploy the device and obtain cover/concealment will help the officer choose a location well ahead of the suspect.
Don't rush deployment. Carefully pick a spot. Remember, if you can see the suspect approaching, he can also see you, and you should move away from the roadway immediately. Deployment should always occur without the suspect being able to observe you and your location.
Some tire-deflation devices have cords that stretch up to 80 feet. The longer cord means the officer can get further away from the roadway. The farther away, the better, because the roadway is where whatever might go wrong is going to go down.
Training on a regular basis, along with sound decision-making in stressful situations, can ensure that tire deflation devices are effectively and safely used in deployment.