Methuen: Methuen Police Turn to Technology to Reduce Risk and Increase Safety During High Speed Chases
FROM THE CHIEF
This column originally ran in the May 9 edition of Loop Weekly
I’m thrilled to have the chance to speak directly to you, the Methuen citizens, and keep you up to date on the Methuen Police Department, both by telling you about the officers that serve and protect you and to keep you up to date on how we’re trying to both build strong relationships with residents and to always be innovating in how we police the city.
Over the past year our team of officers has researched ways to reduce high speed pursuits, thus reducing the risk to the public, the officers and those we pursue. Through the use of a new technology, Starchase, we have found a solution that accomplishes all of this at a minimal cost. It sounds like James Bond tech, but we use a launcher to shoot a GPS-equipped adhesive tag at the car we’re chasing.
Far too often we read about police pursuits that end tragically with collisions that result in serious injuries and or deaths. Starchase empowers our officers with a tool that still catches the fleeing offender while keeping our citizens and officers safer.
This technology further reduces the exposure of officers and those we pursue to post-adrenaline pursuit syndrome. During high speed pursuits, the adrenaline of the officers and the subject being pursued increases dramatically. We have all seen videos of police pursuits ending in assaults on officers and multiple officers converging on the suspect in an attempt to take them into custody.
The latter has resulted in some cases of officers using too much force on the subject. Starchase drastically reduces this syndrome by allowing the officer to back off the chase and pursue the speeder using the GPS tracker. Ultimately, this reduces the risk of physical force being used on the officers and subjects and reduces the risk of liability for the city.
Here’s the explanation straight from the company behind this innovation that we’ve installed in our main patrol and traffic vehicles:
“Starchase uses GPS technology to provide near real-time critical intelligence and situational awareness for law enforcement response, as well as remove the adrenaline from high-risk vehicle interdictions such as police pursuits or drugged/drink driving situations. The vehicle-installed technology utilizes a compressed-air to deploy a non-lethal adhesive tag onto a fleeing suspects’ vehicle. Once attached to the suspect’s vehicle, officers are able to utilize the technology to track the vehicle in a tactical and safe manner without evolving into a high-speed pursuit to apprehend the suspect in a planned and coordinated manner.”
How does it work? The launcher is a dual-barreled system mounted in the grill or on the push bumper of a patrol vehicle containing two live GPS projectiles. There’s a control panel of lighted and shaped, easy-to-use buttons mounted inside the patrol vehicle that allows officers to manually aim a laser up and down on the target and fire the projectiles from inside the vehicle.
The officers also have a remote key fob that, once armed, allows officers to deploy the GPS tags from outside of the patrol vehicle.
No one wants to see anyone injured as the result of a high speed pursuit regardless of the reason for the chase. We’ve heard you when you tell us you want to reduce liability to the city and end tragic accidents that can occur as the result of high-speed pursuits. By installing this technology we are protecting the public and all those involved in these types of police actions.
GPS-based pursuit management technology has been reviewed and given the “approval” by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which saw that when the technology is used as intended, when exigent and probable cause situations are present it is fully compliant with the Fourth Amendment.
Methuen Police has studied technology in law enforcement for several years with a goal to work safer, work more productively and work more efficiently. Over the past few years we have employed various technological advances to better serve our community and keep all of us safer on a daily basis.
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