But deputies hope to put the clamps on pursuits early with new tool
By Laurie Bassett-Edmonds
HARRISONVILLE – The Cass County Sheriff’s Office recently purchased and installed “The Grappler” on five vehicles in a move it believes will change the outcome of many police pursuits county-wide.
The frequency of high-speed chases has been steadily increasing in Cass County over the past few years. Deputies were involved in 31 chases in 2017, 37 in 2018, and 15 by late May of 2019. These chases are dangerous to innocent bystanders, officers, and even to those being pursued. They also cost thousands of dollars in property damage to nearby vehicles, police vehicles, and to the get-away vehicle, which is often stolen.
“We are having more people fleeing,” said Sheriff Jeff Weber, “and our public has the expectation that we take the bad guys off the street.”
Already successfully in use in other areas of the country, CCSO is the first agency in the Midwest to purchase The Grappler, and Weber is enthusiastic about its potential to save lives and property and revent injury. He said that the relatively low-tech, common sense device is very efficient at stopping the threat of a high-speed chase quickly.
“The value of the device is in quickly bringing dangerous situations to a close,” said Weber, “or maybe preventing them in the first place.”
He said that many chases can last nearly an hour, even after stop sticks are deployed, and can travel through multiple jurisdictions. The potential for injury in these situations is astronomical.
The Grappler was developed by Leonard Stock. He came to the area last week from his home base in Arizona to install the devices, train deputies on their deployment, and demonstrate their efficiency to area law enforcement agencies. His personal vehicle, which he drives all over the country pulling a trailer when he installs the Grappler, was used as the get-away vehicle in these demonstrations.
The diesel F-350 has been stopped with The Grappler more than 200 times and has not sustained any significant damage.
The Grappler brings a vehicle to a controlled stop without flipping or swerving. The patrol vehicle approaches the target vehicle from behind. When the distance between the two vehicles is closed sufficiently, a mechanism unfolds from the front of the patrol vehicle pushes a high-strength rope under a rear tire of the target vehicle. The rope wraps into the wheel of the target vehicle and tethers it to the police car.
“When you couple this,” said Stock, “with keeping someone from getting killed when a chase runs through an intersection, then it’s a win.”
According to The Grappler’s website, “When is suspect is speeding to avoid capture, they have control. When the net meets the tire, law enforcement regains that control.”
More about the device, including videos, can be found at policebumper.com