High-speed police pursuits go high-tech

One approach that has been getting a lot of attention is the GPS bullet

By Tod Newcombe

High-speed police chases are extremely dangerous. At least 11,500 people were killed in police pursuits between 1979 and 2013. More than 5,000 of those deaths were bystanders or passengers; 139 were police officers. Injuries were in the tens of thousands. The costs from court settlements are estimated to be in the billions, according to the nonprofit Americans for Effective Law Enforcement.

The high price and level of carnage has forced many police departments to rethink car chases, with some agencies rewriting their pursuit policies to restrict chases to suspected felons or people who present an imminent threat to others. But the issue has also compelled agencies to consider technological solutions.

One approach that has been getting a lot of attention is the GPS bullet. Rather than try to immobilize the fleeing vehicle -- and put the driver and pursuing police in jeopardy -- police can put a tracking device on a vehicle and follow at a slower and safer speed. A compressed-air launcher that is mounted behind the grill of a police cruiser fires the tag, which is a sort of bullet consisting of adhesive and a GPS transponder. Once the bullet is attached to the suspect’s car, the police drop back. The driver of the fleeing vehicle often slows down or stops once they think they’re no longer being pursued, making it easier for the police to apprehend the person.

Full story: High-Speed Police Chases Go High-Tech

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