GPS tracking devices leading to safer police chases

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LAWRENCE, Ind. (Dec. 21, 2015) -- The Lawrence Police Department will be the first agency in the state to be armed with a new tech-savvy device to help make pursuits safer.

“The person that chooses to run is creating a very dangerous environment for themselves, the officers and for the other people that are around,” said Capt. Gary Woodruff with the Lawrence Police Department.

The new StarChase devices will be installed on the front some of the Lawrence Police patrol cars.  Once the officer gets close enough to the fleeing car, they can use a laser to take aim and fire out a launcher that will stick to the back of the suspect’s car.  Inside the launcher is a GPS tracking chip.

“Once the GPS device is up and running, the officers can back off a little bit and bring in some additional assets. The GPS is monitored from our dispatch center. Our dispatch center can coordinate other responding units in a more safe way,” said Woodruff.

The devices go along for the ride on the suspect’s car, mapping out their every turn while the officers are given more time to formulate a safe plan to execute an arrest.

“The person driving the vehicle involved may have no idea that we’ve deployed this device and it increases the opportunities to capture someone and if we can do that in a safer, smarter way,” said Woodruff.

This year, the Lawrence Police Department has been involved in 29 pursuits; the latest was last month.  Three armed robbery suspects led police on a six-mile chase before crashing into a pole.

The department was awarded $14,000 in grant money to spend on the devices, but not every patrol car will be equipped with one.  The devices should be up and running in the next two to three months. The hope is to have at least one patrolling the streets at all times.

The Lawrence Police Department knows pursuits can end in tragedy: in 2005, Officer Craig Herbert died during a police chase.  He's the only officer killed in the line of duty for the department.

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