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Deputies get hands-on training in chases, stopping

June 30, 1998

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

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deputy trainingBy KERRY LYNN FRALEY / Staff Writer

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - Tires were squealing behind James Rumsey Technical Institute Tuesday afternoon as deputies from the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office chased each other to demonstrate two new stopping techniques the department will start using this summer.

The school's driving range is serving as a training ground for the techniques and wealth of other emergency driving skills Capt. Curtis Keller and Cpl. Sam Talley learned last month at Summit Point Raceway.

The two were sent to a 40-hour driving course tailored to law enforcement so they could come back and instruct the rest of the department, said Berkeley County Sheriff Ronald E. Jones.

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The training, costing almost $1,800 each, was well worth it for the good it will do deputies and the public, Jones said.

"The safety of officers and the citizens of the county is the number one aim of the class out here," he said.

The first group of six deputies went through the three-day course last week, Keller said. A second group started Tuesday.

Two more courses are scheduled for the next two weeks to accommodate remaining officers, he said.

The course includes a lot of detailed information designed to guide deputies in their judgment regarding emergency driving situations as well as hands-on training to make them better drivers, Keller said.

Deputies are being taught when to chase someone, how to control their car in pursuits and when responding to emergencies, and how to manage stress during a chase, he said.

Among the techniques they're learning is the proper way to use the department's new "stingers," which are pulled out accordion-style over the roadway to puncture a vehicle's tires when it passes over them, Keller said.

The department recently purchased 32 of the devices - one for every deputy's car - with federal grant money, he said.

They also learn a last-resort stopping technique they can use if the stingers don't work, Keller said.

A member of the second group, Sgt. Dennis Streets, said he thought the training was a great idea since chases are a too-common part of police work.

"Most police departments around here don't have any driver training given," Streets said. "It is good for the experience. They give us however many thousand pound car and tell us to chase, but they never tell us how."

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