More gardaí than ever completing training in the use of 'stingers'
Up to 160 gardaí in the county are currently completing training in the use of 'stingers', in a move set to equip and enable every patrol in the use of a key tool of 21st Century policing.
Until now, just a handful of gardaí in the division were trained in the use of the stingers, a special tool comprised of scores of hollow metal spikes that jut up from a special frame.
It's getting the frame across the road in the seconds before the target vehicle arrives that requires the greater part of the training, however.
There's very much a knack to it as Gardaí Peter McCarthy and Dan Buckley demonstrated in one of the final training sessions in the county, held at the Ballymullen Barracks in Tralee last week.
They made it look easy, firing the accordion-like frame rapidly across the road to halt oncoming vehicles and snapping it back just as quickly - a move each garda is now mastering in the interests of making the garda response to crime more effective.
"The stingers are comprised of hollow metal tubes which, once they perforate a tyre, allow for a gradual deflation that brings the target car to a safe, gradual stop rather than an immediate one," Inspector Mike Fleming, who is also co-ordinating the training, said.
"On average, a tyre will take between just 12 and 20 seconds to deflate, which gives the driver time to safely bring it to a stop."
Stinger deployment is treated as use of force, and is provided for under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, underpinned by Garda Síochána policy - all of which rank and file gardaí are now versed in to help them use the tool correctly. Every deployment must be reported to GSOC, as with the use of other types of force by gardaí.
"We're upskilling nearly 160 gardaí right across the division in their use, in what is a very significant move, greatly enhancing our ability to respond to certain types of crime," Inspector Fleming said.
"Until now just a few gardaí have been qualified to use stingers, but with so many gardaí now trained, it will mean that pretty much every patrol will be able to and capable of deploying them," the Inspector added.