A dart-like device may help police prevent dangerous car chases

Police officers in Minneapolis and St. Paul are using a novel device to track potentially stolen cars without engaging in dangerous high-speed pursuits, reports CBS Minnesota.

Four police and sheriff’s departments in the Twin Cities region are using StarChase, a unique tracking device that propels a dart-like cartridge from the front of a squad car onto the rear of a suspected stolen vehicle, allowing police to track the car remotely without physically following it.

“I think it will help us recover a lot more (stolen cars) in a safe manner,” said Ramsey County Deputy Joe Kill, one of three deputies in the department currently trying the technology.

The StarChase dart’s tip has an adhesive layer, helping it stick to the suspected stolen car. The dart also has a magnet to make sure it stays attached.

Kill says the device allows police to be stealthy when tracking stolen cars.

“As soon as you hit your lights and sirens, they’re fleeing from you,” Kill said. “Or we can back off, not chase it, follow it on a computer [with StarChase] until it lands, and then come in and make an arrest or recover the vehicle.”

Police chases are dangerous for police, suspects and bystanders.

Last fall, Laneal Frazier died in Minneapolis when an officer crashed into his car while pursuing a stolen vehicle.

“We’re trying to use different techniques right now to help us safely take down a suspect instead of chasing people through the cities at a high rate of speed, where somebody could get injured or killed,” Kill said.

Ramsey County has been using the technology for about three weeks. Kill has deployed his device at least once.

In order for the device to be used, vehicle owners need to give permission to police to track their stolen vehicle.

Grant money is funding the three squads in Ramsey County that currently have StarChase, but Kill hopes it doesn’t stop there.

“I think having every car equipped with it would greatly help,” he said.

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