GPS Darts Help Stop High-Speed Police Chases

The police department in Methuen, Mass., hopes to avoid dangerous and potentially deadly high-speed car chases with GPS darts.

High-speed car chases not only put police officer lives at risk, but also are a significant risk to innocent bystanders. In Methuen, officers can engage in car chases only for serious crimes, such as murder or bank robbery. However, with StarChase’s GPS darts, police are hoping to drop the number of chases even lower.

The StarChase launcher on the police car propels a tracker dart, above, onto a suspect's vehicle. (Photos: StarChase.com)
The StarChase launcher on the police car propels a tracker dart, above, onto a suspect’s vehicle. (Photos: StarChase.com)

The Methuen Police Department is the first police department in New England to use the darts.

The StarChase technology is mounted in the grille of the police cruiser. If a suspect begins to take off, police can activate the technology and use the laser control to aim the dart at the suspect’s car. The dart will attach to the vehicle wherever it is aimed. Once the dart is in place, police can begin to back off. With police no longer visibly hot on their tail, suspects stop driving erratically–dramatically lowering the risk for injuries or property damage.

Once a vehicle is tagged, StarChase says it enables a dispatcher to track the suspect in real time using a Web-based mapping program. This enables collaboration with other agencies and localities and helps police create perimeters miles ahead of the vehicle.

“This is just one more tool in our toolbox that hopefully in the right situation and the right time we deploy it, it could save someone’s life,” Methuen Police Chief Joe Solomon explained to FOX25.

According to StarChase, the GPS darts have resulted in an 80 percent apprehension rate–compared to a 70 percent national average–and zero injuries or deaths, no property damage, and no liability.

Even if the suspect ends up ditching the car to continue on foot, police will still know the location of the car, Solomon explains, and can respond to the area with K-9 units for a foot chase.

“I’d much rather have my dog chasing someone than us driving at 100 mph,” Solomon said to PoliceOne.com.

Five of Methuen’s police cruisers have been fitted with the dart launchers and stationed throughout the city of 48,500 people for full coverage.

Kate DeNardi
About Kate DeNardi
Kate DeNardi is 21st Century State & Local's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs
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