Effective and safe use of the Stop Stick Tire Deflation Device has earned Officer Joe Stark the 2017 Stop Stick "Hit King" award. An assault with a weapon call, attempt to elude, and harassment threat to kill, made this situation dangerous to law enforcement and the general public.
The Hit of the Year and Hit of the Month program recognize the most effective deployments of the Stop Stick Tire Deflation Device in ending pursuits across the country. A top deployment in the Northeast, South, Midwest, and West are voted on each month to nominate the Hit of the Month winner. Those 12 Hit of the Month winners are then eligible for Hit of the Year.
In July 2017, Officer Stark, who was then employed by the Monroe (WA) Police Department, was persistent in successfully locating a vehicle reportedly being driven erratically by a male suspect. According to multiple callers, including a female kidnapping victim, the suspect had taken the female victim into the vehicle with a knife to her throat.
According to the pursuit report filed by Sgt. Paul Ryan, also of the Monroe Police Department, the incident escalated quickly, putting the community at large in danger. This included threats to motorists and other law enforcement officials. Ryan indicated that the suspect aimed his vehicle at law enforcement and attempted to collide with them. The report also stated that the suspect later admitted his intentions to commit suicide if confronted. In addition to holding a knife to the victim's throat, the suspect had poured gasoline on himself and the victim and planned to ignite. Luckily, the victim was able to break the lighter, thwarting the suspect's attempts.
As the situation became more volatile, Stark surveilled his options and used a guardrail as protection when deploying Stop Sticks. Using the tire deflation device, he was able to flatten two tires on the vehicle and the vehicle traveled only about a mile further at which time the suspect was taken into custody. Ryan said in his report, "Officer Stark is an exceptional Monroe Police Officer, and is selfless in action, thought and word." Sgt. Jeff Ross of the Snohomish County (WA) Sheriff's Office, where the call originated, also added, "It is truly humbling to work with such exceptional individuals that are able to come together as a team at a moment's notice to make certain good conquers evil."
Now a member of the Bonney Lake Police Department in Washington to live closer to family, Stark is to be congratulated along with his peers at Monroe Police Department and other law enforcement officials involved in the incident. Adam Freeman, National Sales Director for Law Enforcement at Stop Stick, pointed out the courage that Stark and other officers use to protect and serve their communities. "Like Officer Stark, our law enforcement officials put their lives on the line every day," he said. "There is a great deal to think about during a shift. Stop Stick is one of the proven tools officers can use to stop pursuits, saving lives, reducing risk of injury and limiting property damage in the process. I commend Officer Stark for mitigating this situation and doing so in a way that safeguarded him and others."
In 2017, there were 2,047 pursuit reports submitted to Stop Stick, Ltd. All deploying officers received a letter of accolade from company President Andy Morrison along with a Stop Stick "Hit Pin" after successful use of the device. Hit of the Month and Hit of the Year recipients further demonstrated excellence in deploying Stop Stick taking several key categories into consideration: Danger to law enforcement and general public, effectiveness of device leading to apprehension of suspect resulting in no loss of life or serious injury, and the deploying officer demonstrating safe cover as recommended in Stop Stick user training.
Since the product's inception in 1993, it's estimated that Stop Sticks have been used 100,000+ times successfully to help mitigate pursuits across the U.S. and abroad. The device used by Stark had three Stop Sticks inside a black nylon sleeve with a cord reel attached. To deploy Stop Stick, the device is thrown completely across the road where it expands to nine feet in length. The deploying officer then secures safe cover away from the roadway where the device is then pulled into the path of the suspect vehicle using the attached cord reel. After suspect vehicle crosses the device, Stop Stick is quickly removed from the road by grasping the cord reel handle and giving it a slight "yank" backwards.
For more information on Stop Stick and other pursuit prevention and perimeter protection devices available to assist law enforcement in protecting the public, visit https://stopstick.com/.