Police get new spike strips capable of stopping vehicles in their tracks

Photo: ČTK

The police are taking the fight to road pirates and criminal suspects who try and avoid pursuit in the Czech Republic. In January alone, the country saw numerous such incidents, often ending in crashes and demolished vehicles. The country’s police meanwhile invested in almost 250 metal spike strips which can stop cars in their tracks. The interior minister himself this week took part in testing, acting the part of a bad guy trying to get away.

Milan Chovanec,  photo: ČTK
Ahead of the test on a stretch of road near an airport at Panenský Týnec in the region of Ústí, the police explain to Interior Minister Milan Chovanec the route he will take and where they’ll be waiting for him. Behind the wheel of a white Škoda Octavia, the minister is then pursued by a police car.

He and colleagues aboard taping proceedings ignore the sirens and keep going, while at a pre-determined point ahead, an officer hiding behind a parked car readies to unravel a spike strip with a single throw. The strip stays out just long enough for it to puncture the escaping Octavia’s tires, before it is yanked away so the car in pursuit can catch up. Before Czech TV cameras, the police appear to take their roles seriously - even drawing their weapons and taking the minister to the ground.

After the test, Minister Chovanec tells the broadcaster his impressions of the result.

Photo: ČTK
“No, you can’t really get away. The whole car begins to shake and within a couple seconds you’re driving on the rims.”

Also on hand is Police President Tomáš Tuhý who maintains the spike strips represent a solid investment.

“Today, officers are being increasingly trained to use this device and I think that in situations where they can be used, they will serve a purpose. Of course, not every situation allows it.”

The strips’ successful use will depend on a number of factors, most notably time: enough to be set up and enough to make use of the element of surprise. In cases where police officers pursue a motorcyclist, however, the strips are not allowed at all. The only option there is for police to try and close off the route. For that, one confirmed, officers can request the driver of a truck, for example, to park across the road to block off escape.

Photo: ČTK
Meanwhile, Czech TV reports, Czech courts have also begun handing down tougher sentences in cases of reckless driving and evading arrest: in a recent case a suspect who tried to escape police pursuit, smashing up several police vehicles in the process, was given seven years in jail. That decision, however, can still be appealed.