DPS uses Grappler device to safely pull over vehicle

An Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper successfully stopped a vehicle pursuit using an immobilization device called the Grappler in June.

On June 28, DPS troopers responded to reports of a vehicle driving erratically on Loop 202 near U.S. 60 Superstition Freeway, according to a DPS news release. 

Troopers tried to pull the vehicle over, but the person continued to drive recklessly and at fluctuating speeds, the release said. 

Trooper Norman Hupp drove close to the back of the vehicle and deployed the Grappler from his bumper to lock the car’s back tire with a net and a 40-foot tether.

The Grappler is a large net located on the front bumper of a patrol car that locks onto the back tire of the car they’re pursuing, forcing the vehicle to slow and ultimately stop.

The device was created by a Phoenix-based company to prevent pursuits from ending in fatalities and has been in use by other law enforcement agencies throughout the country. 

This was the first successful use of the Grappler for the department, according to the release, and DPS has placed the device in vehicles across Arizona. 

“The Grappler is cutting-edge technology which makes a tremendous difference for troopers,” said Lt. Col. Jenna Mitchell, assistant director of the Highway Patrol Division, in the release. “This device positively impacts the safety of troopers, the public, and suspects, helping to end pursuits as safely as possible.”

The intervention device is in the testing stages right now, said Hupp in a video release. 

“I feel it’s a very effective tool in stopping pursuits of impaired drivers, wrong-way drivers or criminals that are trying to not be stopped by us,” he said in the video. 

Capt. Jesse Galvez, a spokesperson for DPS, said in this incident the conditions such as the type of road made it possible for Hupp to use the device. 

“Our goal is always to bring these pursuits to completion safely,” he said. “We always welcome different innovative techniques and technologies that would allow us to do so safely.” 

Reach the reporter at Audrey.Jensen@arizonarepublic.com or on Twitter at @Audreyj101.

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