LAWRENCE, Ind. – Police are rolling out technology meant to keep officers and drivers safe during a police chase.
We told you about this new tool last year and Friday, we got a firsthand look at how it works.
The Lawrence Police Department was practicing and demonstrating with the new GPS technology developed by StarChase.
Thanks to a $14,000 grant, some Lawrence P.D. vehicles are now equipped with single-shot adhesive “tags” that officers fire from their vehicle. The tag attaches to a fleeing vehicle, while officers track it with a GPS monitor.
The department says it hopes to have at least one unit available on every shift. And if you were worried that a simple pullover and speeding ticket could get you tracked by Lawrence P.D. – think again.
“This will only be employed in vehicle pursuits where someone is trying to actively elude the police,” Lawrence Police Deputy Chief Gary Woodruff said. “We're not just going to be going out there tagging vehicles ‘just because.’ There's supervisory tracking in place, meaning if the technology is employed, a supervisor is immediately involved.”
Lawrence police say in 2015, they took part in 29 vehicle pursuits, which is about average. The year-by-year average is about 25 pursuits.
They don’t exactly expect that number to go down, but they do expect fewer crashes, injuries and deaths from high-speed chases.
“We've been directly affected by the dangers of a police pursuit,” Woodruff said. “The only Lawrence officer killed in the line of duty… was a vehicle-pursuit situation.”
Lawrence police are the first in the state to use this technology.
Woodruff admits, while it’s clearly life-saving technology, if not used properly, it could toe the line of privacy versus public security.
“There's always a balance between privacy and public safety,” Woodruff said. “If somebody is actively alluding police, that's a dangerous situation for the police and the public, and if we can leverage technology in a very limited scope, the American Civil Liberties Union has actually vetted that, and concur with the use of the technology in this particular circumstance.”
Police say the GPS system is available for the officers to use as early as Friday night.
Follow Mike Pelton on Twitter: @MikePeltonrtv6