NightHawk Pursuit Termination Technology

Winnebago County effectively expands limited resources with NightHawk
Pursuit Termination Technology (PTT)

Safe and Stealthy

In late February, 2016, a driver in a Cadillac Deville was attempting to elude the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) and two other agencies. It was 10:20 p.m. and the car careened down the road at 70 mph.

Three agencies joined forces in the felony pursuit: Illinois Highway Patrol, which provided helicopter support; the Rockford Police; and the originating WCSO. After a few miles of chase, the helicopter took over as the eye of the operation, coordinating directions with the officers below. This gave the sheriff’s deputies time to get ahead of the chase, set up the NightHawk PTT system hidden from view and get to a safe location away from the road.

The Cadillac sped over the remotely deployed NightHawk spike strips and all four of the car’s tires deflated instantly, bringing the vehicle to a halt.

The result? A safe stop with no injuries. 

When taken into custody, the felony driver told the arresting officer he had no idea what hit the car and no idea where the officers were hiding, asking the deputy in exasperated surprise, “Where were you guys?”

“It was flawless!” remarked WCSO’s Sheriff.

Large challenges with limited resources

Roads leading to and from Winnebago County in Northern Illinois form a main thoroughfare between the major cities of Chicago and Milwaukee for drugs, illegal weapons, and other criminal activities. The WCSO is tasked with patrolling the expansive 519 square mile-plus county with the resources commonly allotted to such an agency. “Like most law enforcement agencies across the United States, WCSO has been challenged with fighting the increase in criminal activity with increasing budget constraints.” said WCSO’s Lt. Anthony Miceli.

Successful implementation

Since 2016, WCSO has acquired 8 NightHawk PTT units and according to Lt Miceli “WCSO implemented the NightHawk system into our pursuit policy and it has proven to be a valuable and cost-effective tool to stop fleeing felons and significantly reducing the risk to the general public during high speed pursuits. The effectiveness of the product is evident as illegal gun and drug arrests have more than doubled resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in value of narcotics, guns, and vehicle seizures.”

“When Night hawk first came to our department we immediately incorporated into our tactical (TAC) unit and they were the first Deputies to successfully use it.” said Lt. Miceli,” I have incorporated into our patrol division and we have successfully used it dozens of times.”

Cost effective solution results in increase effectiveness of existing resources

WCSO reviewed various pursuit products such as trackers and manually deployed systems and concluded that new a Pursuit Termination Technology system such as the NightHawk would help expand current capabilities while remaining within budget. “Budget constraints have reduced the number of Deputies on the streets of Winnebago County” states Lt. Miceli “WCSO viewed the Night Hawk system as another great resource to assist us with apprehending serious felons without an increase in manpower.”

Contributing Writer

Lt. Miceli has been with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s department for 21 years. He started in corrections and worked his way up through the ranks. Lt. Miceli was a SWAT sergeant for over 10 years and is a 2006 graduate of Northwestern University Police Command & Staff. Lt. Miceli also has a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Illinois State University (1996) and is currently assigned as the Special Operations / Patrol Lieutenant of his Department.

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