LAPD To Shoot Fleeing Felons With GPS Tracking Device

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

The Register reports that the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is set to test the StarChase Pursuit Management System. Officers involved in a chase will use a compressed-air laser-sighted launcher mounted at the front of a patrol car to fire a miniature GPS receiver, battery and radio transmitter embedded in an epoxy compound. The tracking device will stick to the absconding villains' car. Police can then back off during high speed pursuits, knowing that the GPS tracker and the cellular radio data will provide the fleeing felon's exact 10-20. The Register is not impressed: "You'd probably hear the trackers splatting into the back of your car – they'd need to be flying fast. If not, you'd notice the targeting lasers glaring from the pursuing police cruiser.." They theorize that GPS tagged criminals will switch on a GPS/cellular jammer or stop and "scrape off the sticky bug with a knife." We reckon the average criminal will do no such thing, and that the system could save thousands of lives lost during high speed police pursuits.

Robert Farago
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  • Blautens Blautens on Sep 26, 2007

    Of all the vehicle pursuits I was involved with where the suspects didn't elude us in the vehicle, if it didn't end in a suspect incapicitating crash (and a few did) all but 2 ended up with the suspect(s) fleeing on foot. (Why didn't those 2 flee? One had already decided on a "glorious" shootout, one had planned to blow the car up when we got close.) I don't see how this helps that all too typical situation. You're giving someone a good 2-3 minute head start on foot, instead of being just a few yards behind them. And for those who would ask "Why, what about your department helicopter equipped with thermal imaging?" - that's expensive stuff that many departments don't have. But even if you had it (and we did), it's not even close to foolproof, especially in crowded areas or with multiple suspects. But LAPD has given law enforcement a lot of tools and lessons over the years. I give credit to their department for continuing to innovate.

  • Ryan Knuckles Ryan Knuckles on Sep 26, 2007

    blautens: You're a (ex)police officer? What would be your favored mode of reducing danger in a high-speed chase?

  • Ihatetrees Ihatetrees on Sep 26, 2007

    Re Dave Ruddell... You mean by having the cop in the passenger seat shoot one-handed out the window from a moving platform at a (very small) moving target? No. Vehicles are unstable, inaccurate shooting platforms. A trained cop stopped on the side of the road with a good rifle should have no problems... Re FreeMan... How ’bout instead, we just have the cops shoot the perp? You have the added expense of a Gov’t paid funeral, but that’s gotta be much cheaper than court costs and paying for a lengthy jail sentence.* *Tongue in cheek noted. However, if the perp showed a willingness to run down innocents with his [s]deadly weapon[/s] innocent-joy-ride-mobile, well placed shots into the driver's compartment would be morally justifiable. Of course, in legal La-La-Land, it's not gonna happen.. FreeMan (continued)... Honestly, the LAPD could barely manage the LOW-SPEED OJ Simpson chase, is it any wonder they don’t do well in high-speed chases? The LAPD has been denied effective tools to stop vehicles because the perp may get hurt. It would be interesting to know how many innocent bystanders have been maimed/killed over the years by these ego-driven publicity hounds.

  • Turkeey Turkeey on Sep 26, 2007

    This will greatly increase police safety in high speed chases... As for the safety of the public... Well, if I were a dangerous criminal, I don't think the first thing on my mind after being shot with a GPS unit would be, "Ohhh the police can track me now. I'll probably just stop the car, and step out with my hands raised"... Rather, a more likely response is probably, "I'll continue my dangerous rampage and get the most out of my little remaining time of freedom, and cause as much damage as possible..." From a legal standpoint, I can't see anything wrong with the use of this device... So I think the ACLU's hypothetical involvement would be futile and probably wasteful...