A company by the name of StarChase has developed what is being claimed as a high-tech way to safely deal with high speed car chases. The Virginia Beach company describes itself as a “pursuit-management technology company” and says that over 55,000 injuries occur each year due to high-speed pursuits.
The technology will fire a tracking device that looks like a large shot-gun shell with adhesive on it, at a vehicle in pursuit. When attached, the device will send GPS location data to police in real time.
The tech uses a double-barreled compressed-air unit installed in the grille of a police car and loaded with twin 4.5-inch GPS projectiles. When the officer needs to pursue a suspect, he or she activates the launcher using an in-car console or remote key fob. The system uses laser acquisition to target the suspect’s fleeing or stationary car and then shoots one of the GPS cartridges.
The projectiles are tipped with an industrial-strength adhesive, so they stick. Once the suspect’s car is tagged, the GPS module relays the car’s coordinates, heading, and speed every 3 to 5 seconds to police dispatch. When officers know the tag is in place, they can pull back and wait for backup—they might even turn off their lights and sirens. Dispatch monitors the tagged vehicle on a digital road map and directs officers to where the suspect is headed. Thinking they are not being followed, suspects return to normal speeds or stop, allowing for safer apprehension.
The Milwaukee Police Department announced this week that it will be equipping patrol cars, although the department will not be the first to use the tracking deployment systems. There are currently about two dozen other departments using them around the country – but privacy advocates say the devices raise questions about Fourth Amendment protections.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also weighed in on the issue and said any uses of GPS tracking technology outside the heat of a chase should require a warrant.
The Austin Police Department, which started using the devices in 2013, report that the technology has been utilized in 36 pursuits – all of which resulted in no injuries for anyone involved and successful apprehension of the suspect, reports NBC News.