Case studies are presented for three law enforcement agencies' use of a particular tool for tracking a vehicle, so as to reduce the need for risky high-speed pursuits by law enforcement officers.
The technology involved is a remote vehicle tracking system developed by StarChase, LLC, in part with NIJ (National Institute of Justice) funding. The assessment, which used both quantitative data and qualitative feedback, was not an evaluation of the system's capabilities, but rather a study of how the agencies used the technology. Data were generalized to prevent the agencies' use of the system from becoming public. StarChase uses a compressed air device, mounted behind a patrol car's grille, to launch an adhesive projectile that contains a global positioning system (GPS) module that attaches itself to a suspect vehicle and transmits real-time coordinates to the law enforcement agency. This enables the tracking of a tagged vehicle from a distance and at a safe speed. The tool also gives pursuing officers time to consider the best way to engage the suspects. Three findings were specific to the StarChase tracking tool. First, agency use of the tool varies. Some agencies used it to tag a vehicle during or prior to a pursuit and then used it to track the vehicle from a distance. In other instances, however, agencies developed a different use for the tool. Second, in two of the three case studies, data suggest that StarChase, when properly deployed, had a positive impact. Third, the officers who used the system stated that it is a helpful tool, but they did not believe it to be a comprehensive solution in all possible pursuit scenarios. Difficulties encountered in the assessment are noted.