PORTLAND -- A two-week course at the Portland International Raceway is teaching police officers how to use one of the most dangerous tolls at their disposal: The patrol car.

Car crashes are a leading cause of death for police officers; in 2011, 30 officers died in car crashes in the line of duty nationwide.

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Many officers spend the majority of their workdays in their patrol cars, and the training session aims to make that a much safer workplace. Officers from nine local agencies will be trained and evaluated on how they perform in their cruisers.

This is one of the most important trainings officers get because it s one of the highest risks things that they do, said Sgt. Brent Ritchie of the Multnomah County Sheriff s Office.

Among the skills taught in this course: Deploying spike strips and using the PIT' maneuver (pursuit intervention technique), which police use to stop a car during a chase.

About 250 officers will go through the training over the two-week period.


KGWReporter Mark Hanrahan contributed to this report.

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