Pocatello police said they used a pursuit technique known as a PIT maneuver to end a brief, high-speed chase early Friday with a local man wanted on warrants for violent crimes.
Among the warrants, the suspect, Terry Sutterfield, 45, of Pocatello, had an outstanding felony warrant for battery on a police officer, police said.
Lt. John Walker said the outcome of the 4 a.m. pursuit on the Benton Street Overpass evidences how his department has effectively used PIT maneuvers — short for pursuit intervention technique — to abruptly end chases that jeopardize the public’s safety.
Police shared a video of the pursuit and subsequent arrest, which is posted on the Idaho State Journal’s Facebook page.
The technique involves a police officer disabling a moving vehicle by striking the rear bumper with the front bumper of a patrol car, causing the fleeing vehicle to spin and stop. Walker said the department has trained on PIT maneuvers and used them as a tool for a couple of years, and with great success.
“That’s one of the things we really like about this is we can end pursuits quickly and effectively,” Walker said. “... Running from us is not a very good idea because we can use these types of techniques to end pursuits.”
Walker said an officer familiar with Sutterfield spotted him driving a maroon minivan in the area of 300 E. Benton Street. He said Sutterfield then drove into the Albertsons parking lot and then drove back onto Benton Street, heading west toward Main Street.
Sutterfield reached about 45 mph on the overpass and had slowed down to about 30 mph when an officer performed a PIT maneuver. His vehicle spun but wasn’t disabled, Walker said. However, he said three other patrol cars boxed him in at the intersection of Benton and Main Street when he attempted to drive away. The pursuit covered about three blocks.
Officers shattered a couple of his windows in order to open the doors of his car and make the arrest.
Walker said the suspect will be charged with eluding an officer. He said Sutterfield was taken to Portneuf Medical Center as a matter of protocol and then transported to Bannock County Jail after he was medically cleared.
Walker said vehicles were moderately damaged during the pursuit, but PIT maneuvers protect both the public and suspects from getting hurt during high-speed chases.
Walker said PIT maneuvers are becoming more popular among law enforcement agencies throughout the country. In Pocatello, PIT maneuvers have helped officers stop chases about five times during the past couple of years, and there have been no significant injuries, he said.
Pocatello Lt. Trent Whitney taught a class in pursuit techniques Friday at the Pocatello Regional Airport to students in Idaho State University’s law enforcement program.
As a general guideline, Whitney said the department strives to use PIT maneuvers at speeds of 45 mph or less, but he said the department will use them at greater speeds if the suspect is wanted on an especially violent offense. In most cases, Whitney said pursuing officers have an opportunity to use a PIT maneuver.
“(Fleeing suspects) typically have to slow down and turn at some point,” Whitney said.