INDIANOLA, Iowa (WHO) — Police officers have always been the thin blue line protecting the community from the dangers of evil.
“We are just willing to take those risks to achieve our objectives,” said Sergeant Scott Dwyer with the Indianola Police Department.
At around 8:00 a.m. on April 1, Sgt. Dwyer was attempting to stop a female suspect in a high-speed chase barreling towards Indianola at 90 miles an hour. “Once you are in position you lock that reel into place and you can pull them into traffic,” said the 26-year veteran speaking of the stop sticks.
Dwyer deployed stop sticks at the intersection of South J Street and Highway 92 in Indianola but windy conditions caused the sticks to blow around and get caught underneath the suspect’s vehicle.
Dwyer said, “When they got caught under the vehicle it got caught under and what I believed happened is that cord came up and severed my fingers.”
Dwyer was rushed to a local hospital as other first responders searched for the missing pieces of his hand. “They brought my fingers into the ambulance but unfortunately they weren’t able to put those back on,” Dwyer said.
On April 10, still without mobility in two fingers on his left hand, Dwyer returned to work on light desk duty. “There’s not a whole lot I can do. I can type with my right hand it just takes me a little bit longer,” said Dwyer.
The use of stop sticks can come at a cost. According to data gathered from the Officer Down Memorial page, in a 13-year span from 2009 to 2021, there have been 22 officers killed in the line of duty while attempting to deploy stop sticks during high-speed pursuits. Mostly hit by vehicles that went off the roadway during the pursuit.
Dwyer said, “At that speed this car was going I believe this cord could have severed my whole hand. It could have severed my arm, my leg or any other body part.”
While Dwyer is right-hand dominant he has reservations about his future if his left-hand strength doesn’t return. “I’m right-hand dominant when it comes to the use of my firearm. There’s a requirement for all police officers to be able to use both hands so that’s a concern of mine,” said Dwyer.
Despite his injuries, Dwyer says he’d stand firm again as a true blue line of protection for his community. “My job is to serve and protect the community. The pursuit is not only dangerous for the officers involved it’s also very dangerous for the community.”
The female suspect was eventually stopped near Oskaloosa and arrested.