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January 12, 2010
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Run, but you can’t hide: The StarChase Pursuit Management System

New technology tracks vehicles without high-speed chase

By Scott M. Bruner
PoliceOne Product Editor

Unfortunately, high-speed pursuits have become all too common, with over 100,000 in the U.S. alone. Fleeing suspects expose both the law enforcement officers involved and civilian vehicles on the road to serious danger. StarChase, a Virginia-based company, has recently released a product to change the way suspects' vehicles can be tracked – without the risk of a high speed pursuit down a crowded highway.

The StarChase Pursuit Management System allows officers to simply tag a vehicle with a small device that allows dispatch to track it without a chase.

"The StarChase Pursuit Management System is a culmination of years of technology development and testing to make sure we designed the most reliable, safe and effective interdiction strategy possible for high-speed chases," Sean Sawyer, vice president and chief technology officer for StarChase, said.

How it works
The system seems remarkably simple. Police officers use a laser pointer mounted on a patrol car to target the suspect's vehicle. They then launch a small projectile, not much bigger than an oversized D battery, onto the fleeing vehicle. The device includes a GPS receiver, battery, and wireless transmitter.

The device transmits a signal through a secure internet connection to dispatch, which then tracks the vehicle on an electronic road map, eliminating the need for officers to tail the vehicle. Information obtained during the tracking of a vehicle is admissible as evidence.

"I found it very quick to aim and very accurate once the laser dials in," Deputy James Green explained. "The tag was very accurate in relation to where the laser was. I think the StarChase system will greatly help reduce car chases [and] I think it will help get . . . felons off the street and make the streets safer for the general public," Greene said.

The StarChase Pursuit Management System just completed a trial run with the Arizona Department of Public Safety (AzDPS) in October to test its capabilities and efficiency, before the nationwide rollout.

"Because the smuggling of drugs, guns, and humans is so prevalent along Arizona’s highways, we at DPS must use all of the tools available to us to apprehend those committing such crimes, especially if the suspects decide to run from our officers. The StarChase system not only helps us track and apprehend fleeing suspects, but it helps us locate them and take them into custody without engaging in pursuits that could jeopardize public safety," Roger Vanderpool, director of AzDPS, said.

The StarChase Pursuit Management System is now available commercially throughout the U.S. and will be demonstrated in several major cities. The price of a system depends on the number ordered.

StarChase LLC (www.starchase.org) is a company specializing in tagging and tracking pursuit management solutions for the law enforcement sector. The privately held company is based in Virginia Beach, Va., and has been in operation since 2001.

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