New award: Video of the Year
A video from Volusia County Sheriff's "Air One" helicopter depicting Edgewater Police Officer Joshua Feger successfully deploying a Stop Stick® Tire Deflation Device to halt a suspect's pursuit has earned Stop Stick's new Video of the Year award for 2019.
The video and Stop Stick deployment were selected for the top honor in this new category because of the safe, effective use of Stop Stick devices, the training the deployment reflects, and the joint law enforcement effort behind this success all captured on video.
Joint effort: Three local law enforcement agencies working together
While Edgewater's Feger deployed the Stop Stick device that ended the pursuit, he quickly explains that the stop was a truly a combined effort of three local law enforcement agencies in the Florida county. Edgewater Police Department’s Chief Joe Mahoney points to the collaborative effort between departments as one of the main reasons the pursuit ended effectively. “Volusia County has over 500,000 residents and a large tourist population throughout the year, so it is imperative we fight crime using a collaborative effort,” says Chief Mahoney. “We are fortunate to have excellent working relationships with the twelve local law enforcement agencies within the county. This incident demonstrates the effectiveness of this approach.”
Volusia County, Florida – June 25, 2019
Strong communication keeps everyone on task
The situation began when Daytona Police attempted to stop a suspect in a stolen BMW. When the suspect failed to stop, a Daytona undercover vehicle followed the car and a central dispatch alerted other law enforcement agencies close to southbound I-95 highway where the suspect was headed. Because law enforcement agencies in Volusia County use a consolidated dispatch system, they frequently assist one another on calls, explains Feger. Officers from surrounding agencies quickly positioned at potential exits from the highway. Air One also assisted, offering a strategic vantage point.
Pre-scouted location offers excellent cover
Feger was on patrol when he heard the call. When the suspect took the Edgewater exit, Feger was ready with the Stop Stick device, which he had pre-deployed on the opposite side of the road, where it was not observable to the driver, with the pull-cord ready. Feger selected a location between the southbound overpass and northbound underpass that offered a concrete barrier for protection and a good vantage point, while keeping his patrol vehicle out of sight. High curbs on both sides narrowed the exit to one lane. "Being aware of your surroundings and able to think quickly and dynamically about safety and concealment is critical," says Feger, but he emphasizes that it is also important to scout safe locations to deploy Stop Stick devices while on patrol, before the need arises.
"Stop Stick was able to almost stop the pursuit before it happened."
The suspect was driving approximately 45 miles an hour, unaware that he was being followed until right before his vehicle hit the Stop Stick. This was approximately 30 minutes after the initial encounter in Daytona. Upon seeing patrol lights, the suspect attempted to flee in a neighborhood that offered multiple turns, but within several minutes and less than a mile from the Stop Stick deployment, the vehicle was safely disabled with two flat tires. The driver abandoned the vehicle and attempted to escape on foot but was apprehended with the help of Volusia County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Section Aviation Unit, also known as Air One. "Air One played a particularly critical role in the apprehension and safe resolution of the incident," adds Feger. "They observed and recorded suspect vehicle before and after the Stop Stick hit. Without Air One, this could have played out a lot differently."
One hit. Multiple charges. A previous crime.
This unique Stop Stick deployment enabled officers to rescue a two-year-old from the vehicle – the daughter of the passenger suspect—as well as stop the driver, who faced multiple charges, including theft of a motor vehicle, drug possession, driving with a suspended license, and possession of a stolen firearm. The arrest also revealed connections to an earlier, unsolved burglary of a gun shop in another city.
Ongoing training keeps skills fresh
This was Feger's first time deploying a Stop Stick device on a suspect's vehicle; however, he explains that his department invests in regular, real-time training with practice devices and police vehicles. Mahoney reinforced the value of real-world training as well. “Our officers routinely train in a real-world environment with all of our equipment to ensure proper execution during both routine and rapidly evolving incidents. The deployment of Stop Stick devices is included in routine training, so during actual deployments they can be utilized in the safest manner that policing permits,” says Mahoney.
Working together to protect
"It's a great feeling to be able to stop a dangerous situation with your efforts," Feger says, but he quickly adds that every officer involved played an important role, from setting the perimeter and pursuing to ultimately apprehending the suspect.
"Our main goal is to protect," says Feger, who says that is why Stop Stick is such an invaluable part of law enforcement's tool belt. “Stop Stick have proven to be a game changer for our department,” adds Mahoney. “As the law enforcement community is aware, pursuits are dangerous and often introduce innocent citizens into harm’s way. Our officers have the autonomy to deploy Stop Stick devices covertly, before the attempts to stop certain felony vehicles are even initiated. Effective deployment of Stop Stick devices can reduce the duration of a pursuit thus reducing the negative impacts on the community we serve.”