SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – It’s one of the most dangerous things cops do: engage in a high-speed chase. From the ground and from the air, the adrenaline matches the potential for a destructive outcome.
Enter California Highway Patrol’s new technology. The agency is currently kicking the tires on what could be a game-changer when it comes to going after fleeing drivers.
It’s called “Starchase” – a GPS-enabled dart fired from a laser-guided, compressed-air launcher mounted to the grille of patrol cars and aimed at the car being chased.
“The goal would be to get that object to attach to the back of the vehicle so that we could safely back out of the pursuit,” said Capt. James Mann with CHP.
The device then sends a real-time location to dispatchers, allowing officers to ease up on the gas.
“Ideally, they would be able to provide turn-by-turn directions as to where the subject vehicle was at any given time,” Mann said. “It would allow an officer to back off, follow at a greater distance.”
A number of police agencies nationwide have been testing out the product.
Eight patrol cars in the North Sacramento CHP office are part of a pilot program here in California.
“It has been deployed successfully,” Mann said. “[But] there’s also been deployments where it hasn’t been successful.”
In fact, the hits and misses are about equal; the projectiles “stick” about 50 percent of the time. But, officers say the time is now to try anything new.
At the moment, there hasn’t been much push-back on how the device could affect people’s privacy. The ACLU endorses the darts, because of the product’s potential to save lives during a high-speed chase.