Sheriff's office discontinues use of tire deflation strips after deputy was hurt while using them

Lt. Chris Hall recovering from injuries
Screenshot of Boone County Sheriff's body camera video right before he's hit by a vehicle being pursued by police.
Posted at 6:20 PM, Oct 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-18 21:26:33-04

FLORENCE, Ky. — Boone County Sheriff's Lt. Chris Hall stood along U.S. 42 near Interstate 75 Friday night waiting for a vehicle his fellow officers were pursuing.

He tossed tire deflation strips in front of a suspect's vehicle.

Then, almost immediately, the Sheriff's Office said, the vehicle rammed into Hall.

Hall, battered and badly bruised, is expected to recover, according to Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Philip Ridgell.

Boone County Sheriff's Lt. Chris Hall
Boone County Sheriff's Lt. Chris Hall

Ridgell said the juvenile suspects initially pursued for a burglary, then wanton endangerment, were arrested.

Effective immediately, Ridgell said, the Sheriff's Office has stopped using the tire deflation devices.

"It's something that the sheriff had been considering for quite some time and then, as a result of what occurred on Friday night, that was the last straw," Ridgell said.

Many police departments use tire deflation strips. Many others don't.

In theory, if used "properly," according to the manufacturers, the devices can dramatically slow down speeding vehicles pursued by police by ejecting sharp spikes when vehicles run over them.

Ridgell says the Sheriff's Office had used the tire deflation devices 10 times this year, but growing concern about possible risks of using them were realized when the vehicle hit Lt. Hall.

But critics say officers can be at great risk when using them.

In 2020, Springdale police officer Kaia Grant was killed deploying tire deflation strips to stop a vehicle pursued by police.

Springdale Police Officer Kaia Grant was killed by a vehicle in 2020 while she deployed tire deflation devices to stop it.
Springdale Police Officer Kaia Grant was killed by a vehicle in 2020 while she deployed tire deflation devices to stop it.

And within the last few months, police officers in Illinois and Nevada died while deploying them, too.

According to Hamilton Township Police Chief Scott Hughes, a nationally-recognized police safety instructor, nearly 30 officers have died during the last 20 years from injuries immediately before, during or after deploying tire deflation devices.

"These devices have great intentions, and when they're used successfully, they are a phenomenal tool," Hughes said. "When they don't work the way they're intended, they can have deadly consequences."

The device manufacturers insist their products are safe if used properly and create less risk by potentially slowing down vehicles being pursued.

The Butler County Sheriff's Office, Cincinnati Police Department and Springdale Police Department are among the local law enforcement agencies that use them.

But in Boone County, that option is over as the Sheriff's Office decided it was no longer worth the risk.