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Autopsy: Jesse vs The Cops

by spike.com   June 05, 2009 at 3:46PM  |  Views: 1,110

The “Outlaw Jesse James” brings thoughts of the famous gunslingers out-running the law time and again in the mid to late 1800s. Our modern day Jesse James has also had his share of run-ins with the law, and although he was never the bad guy that his old western predecessor was, he now gets a chance to evade the law in a closed course high speed police chase against 6 cruisers and a helicopter. The cops have all the tools: spike strips, a helicopter that can see the whole course, special training in chase, PIT maneuvers, and vehicle take-over, as well as a communication system to give the cops 7 to 1 odds. Jesse has only his nitrous oxide equipped car and instinct. Who will have the advantage in this modern day police chase?

A typical car chase begins with a suspect being identified, cops trying to pull him over, and then the suspect gunning his vehicle to put some distance between he and the law. The cops want to end it as fast as possible, especially when civilian danger is heightened. Perhaps the most famous chase of all was OJ Simpson’s leisurely drive in 1994, where it was more of a media circus then an attempt to elude the cops. It ended almost where it started with no danger to anyone. In fact it was pretty boring. One of the more radical chases was the crazy Military Tank chase, where the monster assault tank tore up the highway and everything in its path. It ended in death to the driver. Many chases have ended with death or injury to both the evader and cops.

This is where the PIT maneuver comes in. While several names are used, such as Pursuit Immobilization Technique, Pursuit Intervention Technique, Precision Immobilization Technique (its first name when the technique was invented by Virginia’s Fairfax County Police Department,) the idea is the same: immobilize the suspect vehicle safely. The key word is safely. However, the faster the fleeing vehicle is moving, the harder and more dangerous a PIT move is. Most PIT moves are performed under 40mph. If Jesse can keep his car moving faster, he can avoid a PIT move. Sounds easy enough right? Of course, at higher speeds, Jesse still has to maneuver his car in and out trouble - including 90 degree turns and other obstacles. Not so easy anymore. Another option, Jesse could try to take a PIT move head on. But will his lack of knowledge of the move and driving experience be able to beat it?

Can you outrun a helicopter? In most cases helicopters will beat you every time. Although there are several helicopters with top speeds just over 100mph, police helicopters can move at speeds of 145mph to even 190mph. Most of the police helicopters do not carry on-board weapon systems - rather they are used to run point, survey the whole scene, and coordinate the chase vehicles. The helicopter will not take the vehicle out, so while it poses a threat, they can be eluded when running through city streets. For ultimate maneuverability, the helicopter will not run at full throttle and when in search mode, it will be moving considerably slower.


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