GPS Technology Could Put The Brakes On High Speed Police Pursuits

 

The Tustin Police Department will be the first to debut the latest technology in high speed pursuits and can potentially eliminate chasing a suspect altogether.

"It's an impressive system,” Orange County Sheriff’s trainer Lt. Chris Thomas said.

Officers will use a laser sight to locate the fleeing vehicle and then the grill mounted launch device will use compressed air to propel a canister with a GPS tracker inside.

The canister will have a very strong adhesive to grip on to the vehicle and the device will immediately start transmitting its location in real time to radio dispatch and pursuing officers.

This will allow officers to follow at a safe distance and speed, reducing the risks associated with high speed chases and heightened adrenaline and emotions.

"I like the fact we can get distance and we can slow this situation down,” Thomas said.

"We don't have to drive at the high speeds, but we can still chase him in a safe way, in an electronic way,” Tustin Police Department Lt. Robert Wright said.

According to Wright, the department was involved in 10 pursuits in 2016 and that this technology could eliminate the need for high speed pursuits, if not all.

"It’s ideal for us and ideal for the community. It decreases that threat and danger that is involved in pursuits,” Wright added.

For now, StarChase will be limited to pursuits involving suspects that are already wanted for a crime.  The intent of this new tool is to reduce crashes, injuries and deaths.

Currently less than 100 law enforcement agencies use StarChase nationwide.

According to a USA Today analysis of those records, in 2014 there were 385 people killed in crashes that occurred during a police chase. That's up 16 percent from the year before.

Among the  2014 pursuit deaths, five were police officers, 73 were bystanders, and 77 were passengers in the fleeing vehicles.

In San Diego County, 21-year-old Marco Gutierrez was killed in an Oceanside police chase.

Gutierrez's brother-in-law, Jorge Luis Lopez, was the one behind the wheel during this chase that killed Gutierrez and is now serving a 19-year prison sentence for drunk driving and involuntary manslaughter.

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