Ending a car chase can be dangerous for both the police and the pursued driver. Over the years, a variety of devices have been tasked with making this process safer and easier. However, one has recently floated to the top of the heap: the "Grappler Bumper." Designed to use high-strength webbing to snag the rear wheel of an escaping vehicle, the Grappler Bumper was recently spotted ending a high-speed chase in Arizona—safely.
The entire ordeal was captured on video on Friday, April 29 from the perspective of a following helicopter, before being broadcasted by FOX10 Phoenix. The driver of the silver Ford Fusion was attempting to evade police after reportedly falling asleep in traffic and allegedly possessing drugs and weapons in the car. When police attempted to detain him, he reportedly rammed their vehicles and initiated a chase. The pursuit went on for some time, but end result of the would-be escape is clear. An unmarked Tahoe rolls up behind the driver with the device deployed, it snags his rear wheel, and the Fusion is more or less dead in the water within a few short seconds.
The grappler, when it is not deployed, looks like a regular push bar on the front of a vehicle. That means it can be used by undercover vehicles as it is in this situation. Likewise, it doesn't matter whether or not the vehicle is front, rear, or all-wheel drive, it will still do the job. Once the wheel is snagged, the tether connecting the wheel to the chase vehicle can either be released to get distance from the pursued vehicle, or maintain its connection, as it does in this instance. This allows police to slow the suspect's vehicle mostly on their own terms.
The device was invented by Leonard Stock in 2016, who, after witnessing the seemingly needless carnage that could be caused by a police chase, wanted to create a safer way to handle the situations. Years after his initial prototype snagged the wheel of the family Suburban, the Grappler Bumper is now in use by law enforcement agencies all over the country. The company claims that grappler bumpers are deployed on a nearly daily basis in order to help end pursuits safely.
In response to this particular incident, Stock said "[The] technique used was textbook. The perfect scenario and perfect execution of the grappler." He went on to note that, while he hears frequently of their use, it's uncommon to see them on live television, which makes this particular case interesting. "We've only had a few stories where some of the uses have been on... a dashcam, and so it's been limited, but for it to be live TV is pretty exciting."
So while police chases can often be risky; endangering innocent bystanders, officers, and potential suspects alike, technology like the Grappler Bumper can ensure—when deemed necessary—that things are handled as safely and quickly as possible.
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