MOUNT MORRIS — There is a new technology that helps save lives during car chases, and the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office is the first in the state to get them.
StarChase provides GPS tracking technology that ensures public and law enforcement safety worldwide.
Livingston County Sheriff Thomas Dougherty held a practice demo at the Livingston County Training Facility on Tuesday to show how this technology works.
Sgt. Joseph Breu demonstrated how the device works. Breu said that the unit costs $5,000 a piece and the trackers cost $250 a piece.
“The chamber can only hold two at a time,” he said. “You turn on the GPS and it lets you know when it is live.”
There is a door that opens to release the tracker as it hits the back of the car. The unit has a control panel that is triggered by a remote button.
“If you are on a high speed pursuit you don’t want to have to look down,” Breu said. “You want to pay attention to where you are going. There is a small hand held button you can push without having to look down.”
“We look at it as there are a lot of risks when on a high speed pursuit, and this will help you save a life,” Breu continued. “If you can save lives doing it then it is worth it.”
As long as the law enforcement are at a certain distance they can shoot the tracker out of the chamber and hit the car. For the last couple of months the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office have done the research and training on this technology. They have been ready to use the technology for the last couple of weeks.
“Safety is important for everyone,” Breu said. “We want to reduce the amount of high speed pursuits.”
Livingston County 911 Dispatcher Amanda Schultz gets to see the high speed pursuit in action through the map that shows exactly where the car is heading.
“We had training on this for about a day,” she said. “This map shows the speed the car is going, and exactly where it is heading. This is an amazing piece of technology, and a great asset for our law enforcement to have. It will help keep them and others safe.”
Dougherty said these devices are good at terminating the chase. Since he has been the sheriff there have been no fatalities during a hot pursuit. In Dansville a couple months back the driver of the car chase hit a tree and sustained minor injuries.
“We don’t want our members or innocent people to get hurt,” he said. “We have had these for about 30 days and got the policy on them. There is a laser that moves up and down to show exactly where the tracker will hit.”
Once a tracker has been used it needs to be returned to StarChase so they can get new ones.
“There is a 30 pound magnet that heats up and holds the tracker in place,” Dougherty said. “There are only two that can fit in the chamber at a time. If you miss the first time you have a second chance to hit the car. It is slim to none that they miss on the first try.”
Dougherty added the department saved money on vehicles over the years, and so they had enough in the budget to purchase this technology.
“The technology is fabulous and I believe it will save lives. It will reduce the number of high speed pursuits. No one else in the state has this, and that surprised me,” Dougherty said. “We rely on our agency and always pursue justice in a reasonable fashion. When you have a police vehicle on your bumper you are going to go faster and faster. This takes lives.”
With StarChase the law enforcement can back off the car, and allow the dispatch to tell them where the car is heading. This causes the driver of the car chase to think they are getting away, so they won’t drive so fast and damage themselves or others.
“Now the deputy will call in the pursuit,” Dougherty said. “The dispatcher is watching it live, and can direct the deputy to where they are heading. Now innocent bystanders and the folks we are pursuing will be safer. If folks know you have it they will think what is the point in running. To get this technology was huge. When the vehicle comes to rest we can take the offender into custody.”
Chief Deputy Matt Burgess said that they needed StarChase, and he was in charge of the research for it.
“I did research on it over the last couple of months,” he said. “It is impressive technology. You have the company come out and install it for you. You can never be 100 percent sure of safety, but this will make everyone as safe as we can. It is our responsibility to keep everyone safe.”
According to StarChase website, the patented force multiplying technology empowers law enforcement, mitigates risk and protects communities. When utilized for high-risk traffic situations, such as DUIs, traffic infractions, stolen vehicles, human trafficking or felony events, StarChase has resulted in zero injuries, zero deaths, no property damage and no liability. StarChase is a privately held company based in Virginia Beach, VA.
Some statistics include that it takes a little over a minute for the car in pursuit to slow down within 10 miles of posted speed limit, and there is an 80 percent apprehension rate. With this technology you tag, track, and apprehend the offender.