Criminals are about to have a much tougher time getting away from police. On Friday Austin police are rolling out a new GPS tracking system. It brings the slogan “you can run, but you can’t hide” to life.
Austin police got into 79 pursuits between January and August of last year. Many times officers must call them off because things get too dangerous.
“Obviously as a police officer and a member of the community, we don’t want people to get away with violent crimes and fleeing from police we want to be able to capture people,” said APD Officer Tom Howard.
Last summer an innocent man was killed when he was struck by a car thief who was being pursued by an APD officer.
“There are pursuits every week, every day. We want to make sure we’re able to end these pursuits quickly, with as little damage to property and as little risk to the public and ourselves and the person we’re pursuing as possible,” said Howard.
Austin officers are hoping the Star Chase System will do just that.
It’s a compressed air-launcher that attaches to the grill of a patrol car. Officers use a laser to target a fleeing vehicle and with the push of a button, a GPS device launches and sticks to the suspect’s vehicle.
The pursuing officer can then back off and wait for directions from dispatch, who will be able to view the vehicle’s position on a real-time tracking map.
“This allows officers to slow down their speed, whereas normally we’d be going with our lights and sirens at all times. This gives you the option to go without lights and sirens because you already know where this vehicle is heading,” Howard said.
The department trained officers on Wednesday. This Friday, patrol cars outfitted with the system will roll out in the city’s highest pursuit areas. Depending on the success of the program–even more could be added to the fleet.
APD is the first department in Texas to use the system. The company is allowing the department to test it for free for eight months. Typically, it would cost $4,900 dollars to outfit each car.