Back in 2008 I mentioned a company called StarChase on my podcasts and I have been back researching how the past 7 years have progressed for the company. In the podcast I said: “We’ve all seen footage on the news or programs like “Worlds Wildest Police Chases” where the crims have been chased and often smashed their cars into pieces or other vehicles. Well, StarChase, a US company, has developed a remote tracking device that contains a GPS unit, radio transmitter and a battery. It is fired from the front of a police car by an air gun and sticks (hopefully) to the back of the pursued car. The police then back off and track the car safely without the need for any OJ Simpson style event. It should save the police a fortune in repairs and fuel!”
7 years on, and the technology is still catching suspected criminals and is being used by many police forces across the US. How does this work? Quite simply, StarChase have developed a unit that is fired from a patrol car by a laser guided “weapon”. The unit is a GPS tracker – think James Bond in GoldFinger following the Rolls through Europe! The patrol car can then back off and using the GPS tracker, follow the suspect until they can make a cleaner arrest. The tracker sends a signal every 3-5 seconds into a fully secure portal that the police officer has in the car built into the technology systems. The portal overlays the data on to a Google Map.
The GPS launcher is fitted to the front of the car and uses compressed air to fire the GPS unit towards the target. It’s laser guidance system is safe to look at and is operated by a console in the car that can direct the launcher. The tag that is fired has a nose cone that deforms to the shape of the target vehicle and sticks tightly. It then sends data back via wireless phone systems. Now the data can be shared through the police systems so that backup cars can also be deployed and the data can then be used as evidence if the incident flows through to a court hearing.
Although watching the numerous TV shows of car chases through urban areas is exciting and is classed as entertainment, for the police involved and other people caught up in the incident, it is far from that and can be very risky, not only for damage to cars and property but also life. Someone may die during the chase through no fault of their own. StarChase themselves quote 55,000 injuries each year from such actions, so finding a way to reduce this number is a good thing. What is really interesting is that when the police interview the suspects, they admit that they slow down when they think the police have lost them, dramatically reducing the risk to other road users.
StarChase is a private company based in Virginia in the US and have had huge success in helping law enforcement groups reduce the risk and cost of apprehending suspected criminals.