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Police Cars Fitted With Launchable Tracking Device Technology

Troopers from the Iowa State Patrol have joined the growing number of departments across the country arming their police cars with a new launchable GPS tracking device, aimed at stopping dangerous police chases.

Referred to as a pursuit reduction technology, the StarChase system launches a miniature GPS tracker from a compressed-air cannon mounted on the police vehicle’s grill. Once attached, an officer can end a pursuit and track the vehicle at a later time.

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“After they think the officer has disengaged, they (the suspects) will back down to normal speeds to blend in with traffic, so they don’t get noticed again,” Trooper Tim Sieleman told KCCI News.

The item, usually running as much as $5,000 per unit, uses laser target acquisition to successfully tag one of its two $500 GPS projectiles onto a fleeing vehicle. GPS coordinates relayed through wireless phone networks give officers specific data including the vehicle’s speed and location.

“You get behind a state patrol car and you’re not getting away. You may get away for a little bit, but we will catch you,” Sieleman added.

Using federal grants, other departments in states such as Texas and Florida also recently acquired the system, hoping to reduce deaths, property damage and injuries often caused by high-speed chases.

“A lot of times we have to let vehicles go. At least now we’ll be able to shoot the round out and see where they go to and hopefully, eventually, catch the people who flee from us,” said Florida officer Jenna Price. “No more fast chase pursuits.”

While police argue the device’s safety inducing aspects, some civil liberties advocates worry about the high-potential for abuse.

“While I appreciate the use of new technologies to decrease the number of irresponsible high speed chases over minor traffic infractions that result in the deaths of too many people, I worry about the abuse of these devices. Law enforcement has shown us time and time again that when they get new toys they like to use them, and that often results in infringements on our civil liberties,” Antonio Buehler of the Peaceful Streets Project told Storyleak.

“Further, I fear that this is an expensive technology, and should a police officer prematurely deploy this device, it may lead to false charges being filed against innocent people to cover up the mistakes of the police officers.”

As technology rapidly increases, police departments have begun to use an assortment of advanced methods to track not only criminals, but the general public as well. Coupled with the militarization of police, Crime prediction software, license plate scanners and the use of spy drones, the line between technology and privacy continues to blur.

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About Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen is an investigative journalist covering foreign policy, information security and digital surveillance. His reports have been cited by sites such as the New York Times, Computerworld, International Business Times and the Drudge Report. How to contact Mikael securely:

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  1. Don't they apprehend suspects before the public is exposed to more danger?

    If this is the case they don't seem concerned about any risks the public is exposed to, and just want to violate the expectation of privacy, the tracking devices work just as well in private settings as on public highways.

    Let the police use these to track an abortion patient to a clinic and watch the fireworks!

  2. If there is potential; for abuse it WILL be abused. There has never been a rule or law giving police power that they have not abused and this will be no different. Police want a police state, and that is as far as the thinking goes.

    • The problem to your comment is this, they know the law and is supposed to represent the law. If they know the law and break the law, then they are far worse than a criminal in many situations. Read C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity"'s first five chapters, that'll explain my point better.

  3. What happens when that GPS slug hits a bystander in the face and blinds him or worse?

  4. The vehicle tracking technology has reduced the hardships of chasing by the police. Sitting at one's own place it has become very much efficient and easy to catch hold the culprit in case of vehicle theft. Also one can have control of vehicle with the help of remote for testing of thee same.

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  5. This starchase technology is very nice because it just shoots on the GPS device that will stick on the car of the suspect. This is one great innovation of technology because this will protect the innocent people driving on the road where the police are catching up the suspect driving his car to escape. This is to lessen accidents from happening.

  6. Good information! But the video file you attached is not working. Would you please fix the issue?

  7. Will they also launch these trackers onto the cruisers of Florida cops who routinely speed on highways and local roads when not on an emergency call or pursuit?

  8. The article will be very essential to me because i need to know the article and sure the content will be very handy for me as well. I must suggest the article to me as well.

  9. The tracking system should installed in all the police vans so that they can keep an eye on whatever position their car is. It is definitely a boon for the department due to its features and advantages.

  10. Using federal grants, other departments in states such as Texas and Florida also recently acquired the system, hoping to reduce deaths, property damage and injuries often caused by high-speed chases.

  11. This system is quite impressive for security purposes I wish other states also adopt this system as well.
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