Pop! Chicago police will start using spike strips to rein in drivers at donut-spinning ‘sideshows,’ CPD order suggests

The effects of spike strips (background) are seen on a car tire. | Quora; Reddit

Chicago’s sideshow drivers may be in for a nasty surprise.

The Chicago Police Department on Friday quietly introduced a “Tire Deflation Devices Pilot Program” to help officers combat the stunt drivers who have repeatedly tied up intersections with their sometimes hour-long donut-spinning performances. Spectators at several of the so-called “sideshows” have stomped on CPD and state police patrol cars and fired pyrotechnics at officers who intervened in the events this summer.

But, we’ll have to wait and see how effective the program is. CPD leaders are attaching a lot of rules to the use of the tire-puncturing devices, including a requirement that cops post signs and announce that the devices are in use.

The move comes just a few weeks after the city council gave police the authority to impound cars that participate in sideshows, also known as “drifting.” But since many of the drivers obstruct their license plates—or remove them entirely—before performing, the law’s effectiveness is questionable.

CPD revealed the plans to cops with an internal order Friday.

A car, surrounded by spectators, does donuts in the intersection of Clinton and Monroe on July 17, 2022. | Citizen

The five-page order said so-called TDDs can be used to “prevent the movement of stationary vehicles lawfully seized or being used for unlawful activities” and to “control the movement of one or more vehicles illegally obstructing roadways or moving from a stationary position to circumvent law-enforcement measures.”

The directive said that the devices cannot be used to stop “rapidly approaching vehicles,” and they cannot be used during motor vehicle pursuits.

So, what will the tire-poppers be used for? Well, drifting, apparently. That’s the only activity referred to in the order’s “relevant ordinances” section.

Among the rules that govern the use of tire killers: They are only permitted to be used if an on-scene supervisor with the rank of lieutenant or higher issues the order.

A video screen grab shows spectators surrounded by a ring of fire as a drag racer prepares to drive donuts around the flames at Lower Wacker Drive and Stetson Avenue on May 1, 2022. | Provided

“Warning signs” must be “conspicuously posted in the immediate vicinity before deploying TDDs. The warning signs will inform drivers that tire deflation devices have been deployed and any attempt to proceed over them with a vehicle will result in property damage and may cause personal injury,” the order said.

Cops must also give a “verbal warning … using a sound amplifying device that tire deflation devices have been deployed, any attempt to proceed over them with a vehicle will result in property damage and may cause personal injury, and any other pertinent information as determined by the incident commander.”

The on-scene supervisor must also ensure that the TDDs and signs are not stolen, according to the order.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com