Wauwatosa Police Department gets more than 100 hits during one weekend of protests

May 24, 2022

By: Zach Madden

Category: Customer Stories

More than 15 officers from the City of Wauwatosa Police Department share the honor of Stop Stick’s May “Hit of the Month” for the successful deployment of approximately 20 Stop Stick tire deflation devices to stop reckless high-speed driving through residential areas.

During the last weekend of May, the suburban City of Wauwatosa became a hot seat for civil unrest. “While other demonstrations included people on foot, in our situation, we had vehicles involved,” explains Wauwatosa Sergeant Kurt Svatek. “We had to do something to keep our community safe and prevent these vehicles from crashing into somebody. Even though we were not chasing these vehicles, they were reckless and endangering others.”

More than 100 vehicles driven by violent protestors careened through residential neighborhoods at excessive speeds. Many were traveling faster than 80 to 90 miles per hour; others were driving through lawns or on sidewalks. Officers from the City of Wauwatosa used Stop Stick to protect the community from these reckless drivers.

“Stop Stick was the single tool that stopped the reckless driving in our city after all of this unrest,” explains Svatek. “Without Stop Stick I don’t know what our city would have looked like. I don’t know how many people would have been injured or killed.”

Because of the number of reckless vehicles, the officers deployed all of the Stop Stick devices that the department owned. “It was extremely successful,” says Svatek. In fact, he adds that other agencies who heard about the tactic of deploying Stop Stick to halt reckless drivers have since used the same approach with success.

Given the number of vehicles driving recklessly, the Wauwatosa Police reused their Stop Stick sets numerous times for multiple hits. “If we had a Stop Stick that was barely hit, we would throw it back in the sleeve,” explains Wauwatosa Sergeant Abby Pavlik. “These Stop Stick [devices] were getting hit multiple times and were still effective,” she explains. The officers also used Stop Stick on the sidewalk and grass, when it was safe to do so, in order to stop vehicles that had jumped the curb.

Throughout it all, the officers kept a focus on safety, guarding the community, themselves, and even the perpetrators. Svatek explains their department requires adequate cover behind a barricade that cannot move in case a vehicle does swerve intentionally toward a deploying officer. “All of our officers are well trained in this,” he adds. “And each deploying officer made sure they were in a safe position to deploy the Stop Stick.”

The police department immediately contacted neighboring law enforcement agencies and officers were able to borrow additional Stop Stick devices for what Captain Jack Morrison of the Wauwatosa Police Department called “unprecedented times.” Stop Stick also worked with the city, rushing an overnight delivery of 60 replacement Stop Stick devices to keep the officers prepared and ready to continue safeguarding the communities they serve.

Beyond simply stopping the vehicles safely, officers found that use of Stop Stick also helped to curb future protestors from using vehicles recklessly, according to Pavlik. “While issuing citations did not have a lot of effect on the protestors, having a car disabled and towed and having to pay the impound fee or pay for new tires definitely deterred future mass reckless driving through the city,” she says, adding that these significant costs often cause protestors contemplating dangerous behavior to reconsider.

Today Wauwatosa Police are using Stop Stick as a proactive deterrent, according to Pavlik. “We still use Stop Stick on a weekly basis. Some are being used proactively to prevent vehicles from going certain ways or to prevent caravans of reckless drivers from entering the city. We have squads lit up and the drivers can see the Stop Stick devices in the roadway. They go the other direction because they don’t want their tires flattened.”

Stop Stick applauds the department for their quick response in protecting residents and reckless drivers who were traveling at high rates of speed. “It’s the knowledge and expertise of the officer deploying the device that makes Stop Stick particularly effective,” says Adam Freeman, Stop Stick National Sales Director. “We take pride in servicing all of the agencies, like Wauwatosa, who are working hard to safeguard communities and lives.” In total, Wauwatosa officers stopped approximately 100 vehicles using Stop Stick devices in a single weekend. Many of these vehicles were abandoned after being disabled and the city towed more than 40.

“The Stop Stick devices were very reliable,” says Svatek. “Stop Stick does what it is supposed to do—it deflates the tires slowly and safely even at high speeds. Even with over 100 hits, not one of those drivers lost control.”

“It’s a high-quality product,” Pavlik agrees. “And our working relationship with Stop Stick is phenomenal. Their quick response time and cooperation saved lives in our city because we were able to stop those reckless vehicles from continuing.”

“Without Stop Stick, we wouldn’t have had an option,” Svatek says. “It was the tool we needed, and we couldn’t have stopped these drivers without it.” All Wauwatosa police officers who successfully deployed Stop Stick received “Hit Pins” and Hit of the Month honors.

Each month, pursuit reports are submitted to Stop Stick, Ltd. from dedicated law enforcement personnel. A trusted solution in more than 300,000 police vehicles, to date, Stop Stick has recorded more than 30,000 Stop Stick hits. All deploying officers receive a letter of accolade from company president Andy Morrison as well as a Stop Stick “Hit Pin” after successful use of the device. These Hit of the Month recipients demonstrate excellence in deploying Stop Stick as they assist in protecting the public and apprehending suspects without loss of life or serious injury. In addition, these deploying officers demonstrate safe cover as recommended in Stop Stick user training.