TUCSON, AZ (KOLD-TV) - When a police pursuit begins everyone around that chase is in danger. In 2007, officers with the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) were involved in 301pursuits statewide.
Last year that number went up to 334. This is one reason DPS is now using a new, state of the art, device on it's patrol cars. When criminals run from police, the consequences can be deadly and innocent lives are put in danger. Pursuits are dangerous for cops too. Because of the liability issue, many departments across the country, have adopted a no pursuit policy and DPS Officer Korey Lankow says criminals know this and take advantage of the situation, "criminals will continue to run knowing that agencies will not chase them. With StarChase now, that equation has been erased."
Officer Lankow is one of the first officers in Arizona to have a this new system installed in his highway patrol car. It's called StarChase, "to me, it's kind of like having a partner on board because Starchase is there to assist me when called upon."
Lankow says StarChase takes the pursuit out of police pursuits by letting technology take over, "it's a GPS projectile that is propelled from the front end of my car and it makes contact with a suspect that is fleeing from me."
Here's how it works. A compressed-air launcher, mounted behind the grille of a police cruiser, uses a laser to target the fleeing vehicle. Lankow says it shoots out a projectile containing a GPS module which sticks to the suspect vehicle and transmits coordinates back to dispatch, "not only is the technology where the projectile launches from the vehicle which is Batman like, but behind the velvet curtain so to speak, you have the operations communication techs that are tracking the vehicle that is fleeing us."
Since dispatchers are tracking the signal in real time on a digital roadmap, police can back off but not lose track of their suspect, "we actually take the edge off of the person, bring that person's level down so he drives at a normal pace until we're ready to engage that suspect and effectively make a traffic stop without harming innocent people."
Officer Lankow says there's also a money saving aspect to StarChase. He used Los Angeles as an example. We've all seen the video of 10-15 cop cars and a police helicopter chasing after one car. Officer Lankow says all that manpower could be eliminated if StarChase were deployed and the car tracked via its GPS signal.
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