By Mikey, Retired LAPD
During 2005, the department was training its officers on the Pursuit Intervention Technique or PIT maneuver. [The link here is for a recent PIT incident in LA. Looks to me ike the agency is primarily CHP with other agencies backing up. This is a 12+ minute video. The most illustrative moments are in the first 2 minutes. The rest of the video is interesting because it shows perfect police procedure for removing suspects from a vehicle.–Thonie]
The PIT was to be performed at speeds below 35 MPH and other rules and procedures were in cooperated in the pursuit training/policy. So, by May 21, 2005 there were a number of field supervisors and officers PIT qualified. Saturday, May 21, 2005 at 0100 Air 11, our Central Bureau air support reported the CHP in a low speed pursuit of a stolen vehicle leaving the freeway and entering Hollywood Area. I was the Assistant Watch Commander to my partner Don who was the Watch Commander. The CHP was asking the LAPD to take over the pursuit and as they were in Hollywood. That meant us.
The suspects attempted to run over a CHP officer and ram a CHP cruiser so these guys were crazy but not playing around. To really push the pursuing officers into the pissed-off spring-loaded position, the suspects would stop, then take off, stop get out of their vehicle and do vulgar things with their fingers and back side. You figure it out. As Hollywood units began to follow the stolen vehicle, the suspects pulled the same nonsense. One of the pursuing units asked permission to utilize the PIT maneuver. Reported speeds were never more than 25 MPH so the suspects met the first PIT criteria.
Now, I had just attended PIT and were told that to perform a PIT, the primary, secondary and third had to be driven by PIT qualified drivers. Then, and field supervisor also had to be PIT qualified. So, Don, not having gone through the school, handed the reins over to me.
One of the pursuing units broadcasted that there were two air units above the pursuit and stated he thought it was a news helicopter in addition to Air 11. I was the guy who was going to give permission for the PIT to occur so the with the aid of the air unit, I jockeyed the pursuit package into position. After what seemed an exhaustive period, we got all the players in their places and I gave the supervisor on scene permission to coordinate the PIT with the pursuing units. I told Don the pursuit was heading our way and we jumped into the Watch Commander’s vehicle and proceeded to intercept the package near the station. Everyone was doing their jobs. The air unit was coaching the officers on the ground to keep their units tight (all three) as the primary unit executed the PIT, he would pass the spun-around suspect vehicle and cars 2 and 3 would box in the bad guys. The primary would make a U-turn and complete the box.
The PIT went according to plan and high fives were being passed all around when I heard from the mystery helicopter, incidentally, one of ours. I heard Staff—-, a high-ranking department brass someone say, “Keep all of your assets there, I will be responding to your location in twenty minutes.”
So now we are scratching our heads wonder who is responding and why? We were standing in the intersection of Argyle Street and Selma Avenue. I was surrounded by “my assets” when we observe a staff car pull up and the driver exit and begin walking toward our group. I then recognize Deputy Chief H and realize that I am standing by-my-self as my “assets” have withdrawn from my part of the street.
“Hi Mike,” he says.
I respond, “SIR.”
“Who authorized this PIT?”
I replied, “I did, sir.”
“I don’t recall it being OK’d to begin its deployment.”
So, I told him how at PIT school it was “when you do this, you gotta do that, when you do that, this will happen and when that happens, all will be good and when all is good you will be impressed, have fun.” Nothing was said to the effect of a starting date, time, month, year, NADA!
“So, sir, I took the initiative when I saw and heard that we were in policy. If anyone needed a PIT, it was these guys.”
His response; “I’m a Deputy Chief, I like what I see, good job.”
Then my “assets” quickly rejoined the Chief and me on my part of the street. That is when I realized Hollywood had performed the first LAPD PIT. We were so consumed with getting these guys and doing it right. As is always the case, we went for the fastest remedy and the PIT was that remedy.
Two weeks later, I received a call from a watch commander friend of mine working the Valley. His division had just performed a PIT and he wanted to take claim as being the first LAPD patrol division to have employed the maneuver—until he found out about Hollywood Patrol.
Second ain’t bad; ask Buzz Aldrin.