With the Fort Dodge Regional Airport temporarily closed for remodeling work, one might expect things to be quiet and low-key.
But throughout the week, officers with the Fort Dodge Police Department received special training at the airport in what Police Chief Tim Carmody referred to as a partnership of several different agencies.
Carmody said about 30 officers received training in the pursuit intervention technique from Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Wes Niles and Webster County Sheriff's Deputy Joe Paullin.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Fort Dodge Police officers practice doing a pursuit intervention technique — PIT — maneuver Thursday morning on a closed section of runway at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport. The closure of the runway for repairs has allowed the department to partner with the airport for the driving training.
The PIT maneuver, according to Carmody, is a way for officers to stop somebody who is trying to escape law enforcement in a vehicle.
"We're in the process of updating our policy manual with the PIT maneuver," he said. "We thought this would be a great opportunity to train our staff in how to use this critical skill."
The maneuver involves an officer matching the speed of the suspect, then using their patrol car, hitting the back end of the fleeing vehicle. This causes the suspect's vehicle to spin around and stop.
The cars the police used for training had special cages on them to prevent severe damage from happening.
"It's one part of the whole pursuit process, but it's one part we've never had training in before," Carmody said.
Police Capt. Bob Thode was involved in coordinating the training session.
"He coordinated everything with talking to (Airport) Director Rhonda Chambers and getting the runway set up for us," Carmody said.
Thode said the department also received assistance from Fort Dodge Public Works.
"They've done an excellent job with helping us out," he said. "They fixed up the cars so we could use them for the training."
Thode also said Brian Forsythe, owner and manager of Hiway Truck Equipment, helped out with the training as well.
"He was kind enough to lend us transport for two extra vehicles so we could double up our training and get everything completed faster," he said.
He added public works is also helping the department with cleanup to make sure nothing is left behind when the training is done.
Carmody said this training was provided to the officers for free.
"The goal is to end a pursuit as quickly and efficiently as we can without anybody getting injured and no property damage," he said.
Niles, who is a certified PIT training instructor, said this was the first time he'd trained a specific department in the maneuver.
"It's gone very smoothly," he said. "Captain Thode did an excellent job of getting everything coordinated."
Niles also thanked Chambers for her contributions.
"This is the perfect spot for training," he said. "Not only does a mile of runway take you anywhere, it's also perfect for training. It's an excellent opportunity to train and a great setting to learn in."
Carmody said no police officer ever wants to get involved in a chase, but sometimes it's unavoidable.
"The value of catching the person must be more valuable than the risk involved," he said. "It's not easy to make that decision to go after someone."
In addition to the physical skills the training provided, Carmody said the exercise also taught mental skills to the officers.
"It teaches the officers about decision-making," he said. "It gives them the mental skills they need to get through the conflict."
Carmody said the most important part of the training is keeping the public safe.
"We're giving our officers a resource they never had before," he said. "We've gotten nothing but positive feedback from the training."