Lubbock police officers chase speeders every day, but one to two times a week, speeders and other criminals won't stop, the chase turns into a high speed pursuit. Police say they are now calling off chases sooner in the name of public safety. This week, police recruits at the academy are learning how to make those decisions and how to drive all over again. NewsChannel 11 got behind the wheel for a first hand look at the training.
The objective was to drive through the course as fast as they could without hitting any cones. Recruit Olivia Lopez says, "If you hit a cone think of it as a baby or a light pole, what if it happens in the street? We learn to control it so it doesn't." Recruit Kody Nesbitt says, "If we get a call we need to be able to go into this mode in a split second."
Instructor Wes Jobe says, "Pursuits are a dangerous thing. We have to be trained for safety driving." Lubbock police recruits are learning the how to drive in a high speed chase. Jobe adds, "We teach rookies to use what they learn in education driving so if they're in a stressful situation they will revert back to training."
Recruits first learn driving techniques like keeping their hands at 9 and 3, and never letting your hands cross over. And if the 9 and 3 technique sounds familiar to Nascar fans, you're right. Instructors are trained by the National Academy of Professional Drivers, a group originally created by two retired race car drivers from the 1970's.
The recruits also learn when it's appropriate to use their new found talent. Recruit Jonathan Tutino says, "If it gets too dangerous we'll call it off, we need to protect the public."
As far as training goes, it doesn't stop at the academy. Every police officer has to be re-certified in driving techniques once every two years.
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