During August the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office - working with the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) - had the opportunity to provide High Speed Track Training for the entire Uniform Patrol Division.
The Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office has been performing the Precision Immobilization Technique (PIT) since 2015. This maneuver is used in an attempt to end a high-speed chase as quickly as possible to limit the danger to the general public that such a chase presents.
“While the PIT maneuver is extremely effective in ending a chase, it cannot be performed if our deputies can’t catch up to the vehicle that they are pursuing,” said Lt. Juan Martinez, training officer for the Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies are often involved in high-speed pursuits with vehicles that are far better equipped for high speeds and criminals that are generally not concerned with obeying traffic laws, he said.
“For these very reasons the Training Division along with the captain of Uniform Patrol, Clay Pangle, determined that the only way to even the odds is to make our deputies better drivers at high speeds,” Lt. Martinez said. “This is not something that would be easy to accomplish as there is no location in our area to conduct such training and then we would also have the issue of the abuse this would cause to the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office’s fleet.”
To get around these issues the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office reached out to GPSTC. The Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office Training Division often helps GPSTC with academy training whenever possible which has fostered really good working relationships between both agencies.
That relationship is why GPSTC agreed to allow the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office to conduct High Speed Track Training on its high speed track, which is approximately two miles long. The track has a long straight away, long curves, and even hard curves.
“This track allowed our officers to reach speeds of 100 miles per hour and above in the long straight away,” Lt. Martinez said, “and the different types of curves were very beneficial in allowing our officers to work on negotiating curves at high speeds while staying in their own lane.”
GPSTC also allowed deputies to use the fleet of retired Georgia State Patrol vehicles, allowing deputies to push the limits of the car to truly be able to find out what a vehicle can do.
Deputies also learned about the apex of a turn, or the center of the highest point on the inside of the curve visible to the driver, and how this knowledge allows them to drive safely at higher speeds.
“During the course of the training we saw our officers’ times around the track improve greatly,” Lt. Martinez said.
Upon completion of the training it did not take long to see the real world application the training had for local deputies. The week after the first group of patrol officers returned to their shifts, they were involved in a high-speed pursuit in which deputies were able to safely pursue the offender while catching up to the individual to eventually execute the PIT maneuver ending the chase.
“Our deputies voiced that they felt much more comfortable and confident driving at high speeds,” Lt. Martinez said.
The Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office is one of only two agencies that are not GSP that have had their entire Uniform Patrol Division get this training.
“Obtaining valuable training like this is what the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office works towards to provide the citizens of Whitfield County the best trained law enforcement officers in our area,” Lt. Martinez said.