By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is deploying new technology to reduce the hazards of high-speed chases.
The new GPS tracking system is called “Star Chase.”
If someone refuses to stop their vehicle, police now have the means to attach a tracking device to a car and back away.
Police can follow the GPS signal from a distance, find the car and the suspect in a safe location.
“We can launch this device onto the vehicle that’s trying to get away. Then we can back off in hopes of the suspect driver slowing down, reducing risks to the public,” said Sgt. Jayson Janes, public information officer for the Deschutes County Sheriffs Office.
Deputies launch the GPS tracker with compressed air from a tube on the front of a patrol vehicle – while they’re stopped or while they’re following a suspect.
“There’s a button installed in the patrol car which will launch the GPS tag,” Janes said. “Officers also have a remote control on their vest. So, if they are doing a traffic stop and they are in between their car and the violator’s car and the car decides to take off, they can hit the button on their vest, and it will launch it remotely.”
The GPS tracker attaches to a suspect’s vehicle through a combination of magnets and adhesives. It’s not easy to remove.
The company that manufactures the device claims it is successful 85% of the time it is deployed.
“We can monitor their location on a computer screen and have an organized plan to either set up a perimeter; set up spike strips or just monitor them from a different location to an area where they may stop. Then come up with a plan to apprehend them,” he said.
The technology is currently installed on a few Deschutes County patrol vehicles at a cost of about $6,000 a piece.
Although it hasn’t been deployed in a real-life situation yet there should be plenty of opportunities.
Last year the Sheriff’s Office was involved in 80 high-speed pursuits.
Janes says if Star Chase proves effective, the sheriff’s office will add it to more vehicles.