PHOENIX (KSAZ) - We've covered our fair share of high-speed chases here on FOX 10 and very rarely do they end well for the suspect, but it's also a very dangerous situation for the police and the public.
A valley man frustrated by the amount of innocent people getting injured or killed during high-speed pursuits has come up with an invention that could be a game-changer when it comes to stopping fleeing suspects.
High-speed pursuits are dangerous, unpredictable and in some cases, they can be deadly.
"The options right now are getting in front of a suspect vehicle to deploy tire spikes or using the pit maneuver or some type of smash up derby style process to stop a vehicle and the officer many times is pinned against a suspect vehicle," said Leonard Stock.
That's what prompted Stock to come up with a better solution. The Peoria resident's invention, the Grappler Police Bumper, works by using a heavy-duty nylon net that can be lowered from the front of the pursuing police vehicle with the touch of a button to snag the rear tire of the suspect vehicle, wrapping around the axle. Within a few seconds, the case comes to a controlled stop without the officer having to force a collision.
Once the Grappler has a hold of the suspect vehicle, the officer can then release a tether from the police car and back away to a safe distance.
Stock says the idea behind the Grappler came to him in the middle of the night after watching a television show about high-speed chases.
"The conclusion of one of the chases was an innocent motorist getting t-boned and I went to sleep that night just so aggravated that this was happening. And I woke up at 3:00 in the morning just suddenly and this was the first thought I had."
Our cameras captured several angles of a simulated high-speed chase to show exactly how the snag maneuver works. Chris Smith was behind the wheel of the getaway car in this scenario and described what it's like to suddenly be snagged at high speeds.
"You know, you hear a noise you're not used to and it just basically feels like you lose power.. it just slows you down fairly immediately."
It's taken Stock roughly eight years of research and development to finally get the Grappler ready to market to police agencies nationwide.
"Being able to end a pursuit in a much more controlled fashion has huge value for law enforcement and for the safety of the community as a whole," said Lon Bartel, the President of the Peoria Police Officers Association.
Bartel has seen videos of the Grappler in action.
"His concept is absolutely fantastic. If that thing holds up the way it appears it's going to.. huge advantage for law enforcement."
Stock says if his invention can help to save even one innocent person's life, it was well worth the time and money he's spent making it a reality.