Michigan State Police are being equipped with a set of new, high-tech “stop sticks” that will be deployed during risky high-speed chases on Interstate 94 in southwestern Michigan.
The Van Buren County Prosecutor authorized the purchase of the Night Hawk devices at a cost of $2,800 each, using a portion of funds seized through civil forfeiture, Prosecutor Mike Bedford told The Herald-Palladium.
Stop sticks have been around for many years and are technically called tire deflators. They use spikes that flatten suspect vehicles’ tires.
But the traditional devices can be hazardous, since police need to be out on the road deploying them in advance of an arriving suspect vehicle.
The new Night Hawk devices mark a major improvement in safety, as they are remotely deployed and use an explosive charge to quickly deploy them across a roadway and just as quickly retract them, Bedford said.
Several police officers have been killed or injured during high-speed traffic chases while deploying the traditional stop sticks.
“They force police officers to stand in close proximity to the fleeing vehicle as they deploy the devices,” Bedford said.
The new devices can be deployed remotely from 100 feet away.
Company representatives from Pacific Scientific of Chandler, Ariz., were at the state police post near Paw Paw last week to demonstrate the devices and to train state police in how to use them.
The Night Hawk devices have only been on the market since May, and the Van Buren County devices are the first in use in Michigan or the Midwest, said Bryan Stacey of Pacific Scientific.
“Hopefully, these will be a better safety mechanism for us,” said Sgt. Jose Patino of the Paw Paw post. (AP)