The Police in Ramsey County, Minnesota, are using Sticky GPS trackers to apprehend fleeing suspects without resorting to dangerous high-speed chases, The WaterStrider GPS tracker, developed by StarChase, is mounted on law enforcement vehicles and launched at fleeing cars using a pneumatic launcher, attaching itself to the suspect’s vehicle, providing real-time GPS coordinates and speed to the officials.
The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office adopted StarChase tech in the spring of 2022, spending $36,000 on the product and tech support. The technology is seen as a safer alternative to high-speed pursuits, allowing law enforcement to track suspects remotely from their computers and coordinate arrests more safely.
The system consists of a launcher powered by compressed air, mounted on squad cars, or behind the grille of unmarked vehicles — The launcher holds two cylindrical tracking devices that are fired at the suspect’s vehicle using a laser-assisted control panel inside the squad car; Once attached, the GPS tracker relays real-time information about the vehicle’s location.
The sticky GPS trackers are described as “part-magnet, part-adhesive” and are activated using a heating element that ensures the adhesive sticks even in wet or dirty conditions. The trackers can be easily removed after suspects have been apprehended.
Woodbury police and the city of Maplewood are also utilizing StarChase technology to reduce the need for high-speed chases. Woodbury police budgeted $60,000 for the system, currently installed in seven squad cars. The technology has been successful in aiding arrests and provides a safer alternative to traditional pursuits, which pose significant risks to suspects, law enforcement officers, and the community.
Under Minnesota law, the use of GPS trackers is limited to tracking stolen cars, and tracking can only occur for 24 hours (unless extended by a search warrant). Law enforcement agencies must remove the GPS tracker once the stolen vehicle is recovered.
The technology has proven effective in reducing the risks associated with high-speed chases, with an average suspect apprehension rate of 86% compared to a reported nationwide rate of 72% for traditional pursuits. Despite its success, law enforcement officials emphasize that the technology is not a one-size-fits-all solution and must be used judiciously in specific situations.
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