By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times
Cullman connected with its German roots as the Cullman Police Department hosted six police officers from Germany on Wednesday showing them the city, equipment, and a well-known maneuver used by law enforcement.
Drivers might have heard squealing tires near the Dodge City Petro Wednesday afternoon as Cullman Police showed their visitors a little technique called the pit maneuver. Lieutenant Gene Bates said after the visitors dined at The All Steak Restaurant, they ventured down to the Dodge City Petro Station where officials lined a path to practice the pit maneuver.
“This routine is used in high speed pursuits, but out here we will not drive over 45 miles per hour because we can’t pinpoint where the vehicle will be,” Bates said. Under 45, we know that the vehicle that is bumped will turn 180 degrees and end up on the left or right side of the vehicle that is hitting it depending on which the vehicle gets bumped.”
The pit maneuver is a pursuit tactic by which a pursuing car can force a fleeing car to abruptly turn sideways, causing the driver to lose control and stop. The training session on Wednesday involved two police vehicles that had excessive metal placed on the front and rear of the cars as a means of protection and allowed the German officers to get involved.
“It takes very little pressure to bump the vehicle and you can do it several times without seeing damage on the car,” Bates said. “In real life on the road, we have done damage to the cars but haven’t had any injuries.”
A German investigator and retired pilot Claus Andresen said seeing the police officers demonstrate the maneuver, as well as allowing them to drive the vehicles for themselves, exceeded his expectations for the trip.
“We have three officers who have never been to America before, and none of us have come to Alabama; The young guy’s eyes popped out like melons like ‘wow’,” Andresen said. “Because this for us was so different. The costly things like the helicopter and this training are very nice and different. The department, the city, the food, everything was excellent.”
All six German officers rode in the vehicles with Investigator Matt Dean and Bates initially driving. After picking up the technique, they transitioned from the back seat and passenger side, to the driver’s seat. Hemberg patrol officer Stefan Koehler said the department in Germany couldn’t really utilize the pit maneuver because it was too dangerous.
Decatur firefighter Josh Sparkman was instructed to transport the visitors to different locations throughout the week so they could tour multiple departments.
“It’s interesting to see the way things are set up differently between our cultures,” Sparkman said. “In Cullman, being founded on German roots, it’s interesting to see the ties with the city. They’ve been impressed with a lot of things I wouldn’t think about otherwise like drink refills at restaurants, and the gun situation. Even as law enforcement, as citizens, they can’t possess firearms. They have to go through school just to get their hunting license. We take those types of things for granted.”
The German officers will also visit with the Decatur and Huntsville police departments during their stay.
Lauren Estes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-734-2131, ext. 131.