Local News

Highway Patrol Ready to Halt High-Speed Chases with Stop Sticks

Posted November 9, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST

— The successful ending of Tuesday'shigh-speed pursuitthrough two counties has resulted in a ringing endorsement for a crime-fighting tool.

Officials managed to stop the dangerous chase with the use of a tire-deflating device called Stop Sticks. But many smaller police departments do not have them, and are powerless in these chases until theN.C. Highway Patrolsteps in.

It was a wild ride: speeds topped 100 miles per hour, 11 cars were hit, and one person was hurt. Police say Shelvie Hinzman Jr., the driver of the truck, actually hit and dragged a woman inside a car one mile before finally breaking loose.

Roseville Police Chief Jimmy Green chased Hinzman for 15 miles, but says he could do little more than watch the suspect speed through two counties.

"There was nothing I could do. There was so much traffic there was clearly nothing I could do," he says.

But the Highway Patrol could and did do something by using Stop Sticks. Every trooper has the device in their trunk to use in the event of a high-speed chase.

Stop Sticks are laid across the road in front of a suspect's vehicle. If the car runs over them the tires are punctured, and the vehicle abruptly comes to a stop.

"If someone chooses to run from law enforcement we've got a tool that not only lessens the danger to police officers, but also lessens the danger to the motoring public, and to the violator himself," says Sgt. David Broome of the N.C. Highway Patrol.

Troopers say using the device is the safest way to stop someone who has no problem using a speeding vehicle as a weapon.

The Highway Patrol has used Stop Sticks in 67 out of the past 2,030 chases. Rolesville's police chief says he plans to look into purchasing Stop Sticks, which cost about $300 a set.