It’s one of the most dangerous scenarios for a law enforcement officer: approaching a driver sitting in an idling vehicle. As two weekend incidents in Dallas illustrate, things can go so wrong within seconds that police officers are dragged and injured as they try to subdue drivers, reports the city’s Morning News. Suspects can be shot or even killed. Policing experts say they’ve not found any surefire way to protect officers from injury or death in these tense situations. But on the horizon is technology that will someday allow officers to use an electromagnetic pulse to fry a vehicle’s electronics, killing the engine before draggings can occur.
“We are reviewing what kind of alternatives, if any, officers have in these types of circumstances,” Police Chief David Kunkle said. “We always want to create an environment that is safe as possible for officers knowing the inherent risk that they face.” Every traffic stop “has the potential of being a shootout,” said Senior Cpl. Lance Crawford, a 20-year veteran who was dragged 50 yards by a carjacking suspect last fall. He helps teach police recruits how to conduct traffic stops. Within 24 hours of each other last weekend, a rookie and a veteran Dallas officer made split-second decisions that nearly cost them their lives.