Fireable GPS 'cannon' may help police avoid high-speed chases
October 31, 2013 (WLS) -- The ABC7 I-Team has been looking into high-speed car chases and how to stop them. It's a growing problem for police, the people they chase and those who get in the way. The I-Team found some fascinating James Bond-type technology that could alleviate police chases.
From Chicago to the suburbs, for years there has been public pressure on police departments to stop chasing suspects who are driving away from crime scenes. In some cases, officers, the suspects or innocent victims have died. But there's new technology available that fires a GPS tracker from police car to a fleeing car that could have been used just this week to prevent a 100 mile per hour chase in Northwest Indiana.
We don't have as many as Southern California, nor is the drama always televised like this. All we have is a map for a high speed chase in Porter County, Indiana early Sunday morning that landed a 19-year-old Valparaiso man in the hospital after hitting a telephone pole and a tree. He was charged with drunken driving, among other things.
But had the police cars there been equipped with this new device, no chase would have been necessary. Behind this lid, hidden in the grill of the squad car, is a small cannon. It fires a GPS tracking canister at the fleeing vehicle, which attaches itself to the getaway driver's trunk or rear deck.
"With the Starchase pursuit management system, law enforcement officers can tag and track a suspect vehicle and then back away," says a video on Starchase.com.
Manufactured by a Virginia company called Starchase, it could have been used to prevent this chase through five west suburbs last week-- and is already being used in some municipalities across the country. Authorities in Iowa are seen here firing one at a stolen truck.
"If you would've told me 16 years ago that I would've had a cannon on the front of my car I wouldn't believe it. After they think the officer has disengaged they will back down to normal speeds to blend in. It's an awesome tool. People that are thinking about running, you get behind a state patrol car, you're not going to get away. With Starchase we will catch you," said Trooper Tim Sielman, Iowa State Patrol.
The equipment isn't cheap. It costs $5,000 per device to install and $500 per tracking round. But that is far cheaper than a few multimillion dollar settlements paid to innocent victims of police pursuits that went bad.
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