We've seen the high speed chases. Vehicles running lights, jumping medians, with little to no regard for the safety of others on the road. They end with the suspected bad guy in cuffs, and tragically, they can end with the loss of innocent lives.
What if there was a way to eliminate police high speed pursuits? More and more agencies across the country believe there is, by using the newest anti-pursuit technology called StarChase. Palm Beach Police is one of them.
"When we start talking about violent crime, obviously we're going to pursue, because we want to stop an additional threat to people or society, but when we start talking about property, we can't justify a continued pursuit for a stolen car or jewelry," said Sgt. Tom Melnichok with Palm Beach Police.
Eventually, all Palm Beach Police cruisers will be outfitted with it. The technology is simple; a projectile launched from the cruiser.
"Once upon finding the vehicle, he would hit arm. It would start pressurizing and also start looking for the GPS Satellites. Once it finds those, 15-20 seconds upon activation, he would then be able to press fire," Sgt. Melnichok said.
And it's effective. Of all the departments that use StarChase, 100 percent of the vehicles have been recovered and 80 percent of the suspects have been recovered.
The trick is, inside the projectile is a GPS tracking chip. So once it's on the vehicle, all officers have to do is back off and let communications take over.
"Communication supervisor will pick it up on Google Earth and she sees it going," said Sgt. Melnichok. "Once we tag the vehicle, we no longer have to pursue. Now we're just kind of following at a safe distance. They probably won't even see us."
In the communications room, techs tracking the suspect can give officers exact locations, turn by turn. Sort of a virtual police chase.
StarChase is efficient at slow and moderate speeds. Between 80-100 miles per hour, it can become less effective.
With technology always improving, the sergeant thinks in time, all law enforcement agencies will use this or something similar. Ultimately, eliminating danger to the public and possibly saving lives.