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Maybe it’s because The Batman recently dropped, or maybe it’s because of the name, “The Grappler”, but whatever the reason, this police device feels ripped straight from the Batmobile, which is objectively cool. Arizona police recently stopped a dangerous car chase with the grappler, and the video is awesome. 

What is the grappler, and why did Batman give it to us?

According to Carscoops, the grappler is a two-pronged fork launched from the front of a vehicle. This fork is attached to the pursuit vehicle with high-strength straps. The grappler is meant to be forced under the wheel of a car while the straps ensnare the wheel, immobilizing the vehicle. 

There is no way to hear the name of this thing or to see it used without thinking of the Caped Crusader. I mean, it’s called the grappler, for crying out loud! While many may not have heard of the police using this device yet, they have already used it at least 400 times to stop dangerous high-speed pursuits since 2018. Most recently, the grappler was used to apprehend a suspect after a long pursuit in Arizona last week. 

What started the car chase? 

Arizona police deploy the grappler during car chase
The Grappler at work | YouTube via Fox 10 Phoenix

The driver of the runaway car, Brandon Smith, is a 30-year-old man who allegedly passed out at the wheel of his vehicle, blocking a roadway near Cave Creek, north of Phoenix. 

When police showed up to investigate the stalled vehicle, they reportedly saw guns and drugs inside Smith’s vehicle. Then Smith allegedly awoke startled and began to ram the surrounding cop cars and went for a drive. 

The police on the ground did not immediately pursue but instead sent a helicopter to follow. Once the air support had a lock, the police SUVs began the pursuit with one of the fleet armed with the Batman grappler. The game was over once the cops hooked the grappler around the rear driver’s side wheel. The grappler ensnared the wheel perfectly and efficiently. 

Once the vehicle was stopped, the police apprehended Smith by using less-lethal arms and a K-9 unit. The suspect got booked into Maricopa County Jail and faces a slew of charges, including misconduct involving weapons, drug possessions, and unlawful flight from law enforcement, though the investigation is ongoing.

Are there other non-lethal ways to end a car chase? 

The grappler seems like a pretty great option for safely stopping a car chase. Car chases are one of those things in the world where there aren’t many safe or controlled ways to end them. This is what drove the investors of the grappler to do their thing. However, there is a pretty tried and true method, but it’s not nearly as clean. 

The PIT maneuver was the car chase ender across the board for a long time. From action movies to police chases, the PIT maneuver was used far and wide. However, considering that using the PIT requires literally crashing into their car and turning it sideways at high speeds. While effective, the PIT maneuver isn’t the safest way to go. 

A tactic more consistently used these days is the spike strip. This also has the potential for a bad accident, but overall, much safer than the pit maneuver. 

Thankfully, the grappler is a strong tool that is also safer than the other options when stopping a car chase. And, maybe one day, Batman will swoop down and give us more trinkets from his tool belt. 


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