Can’t outrace the GPS
StarChase is installing units for free as part of the trial, but Sawyer would not say how many cars will be outfitted initially. StarChase officials would not say how much the units cost. The units will be thoroughly tested on training courses before being used in the field, LAPD Sgt. Dan Gomez said. “We look at the potential of the system as being extremely advantageous,” he said. “We look at all of the technological advances in the department and the community, and we look at this as a natural extension of that.” The GPS device is one of three technological advances Bratton announced for the department Thursday. The others are a newer, smaller Taser gun and a new crime analysis center. Now, LAPD officers use the Taser M-26, a large, bulky gun designed to send an electric shock to disable suspects without causing permanent or life-threatening injuries. The newer Taser model, the X-26, is significantly smaller, allowing officers to wear it on their belts at all times. “The larger models tend to be left in the car unless an officer thinks he’s going to need it,” said Capt. Greg Myer of the LAPD’s training division. “Agencies that use the smaller Taser have had dramatic reductions in injuries to suspects and officers and in the number of officer-involved shootings.” Fifty officers in four divisions will begin field-testing the X-26s this month, Myer said. The real-time crime analysis center, which began operating below City Hall East in early January, allows for greater communication and analysis between divisions and makes it easier for detectives to tap into federal resources and databases, Bratton said. “The way the department is set up, we have 19 divisions, and it’s almost like we have 19 autonomous police departments,” said Capt. Blake Chow, commanding officer of the crime analysis center. “They didn’t have the ability to look beyond their area in real time.” Now, analysts in the center monitor crime throughout the city, looking for trends and connections and mining information from federal databases to help local detectives. Josh Kleinbaum, (818) 713-3669 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card Then other officers can track the car from headquarters. Once the car stops, officers can close in on the location and track down the suspect. “When they’re out of the car, it’s a lot easier and a lot safer to get them,” Bratton said. The units, made by Virginia-based StarChase, can fire two GPS tracking devices, in case the first one misses or does not stick to the car. Like a gadget many motorists use to unlock cars, the trigger to fire the tracking device can be carried on a key chain. If a suspect pulls away at a traffic stop, an officer can immediately attach the GPS unit. “High-speed police chases are one of the most dangerous activities police officers get involved in,” said P. Sean Sawyer, president and chief executive officer of StarChase. “The StarChase system is designed to mitigate the risk.” The LAPD will be StarChase’s first beta-tester, so officials don’t know just how well the device will work. All tests so far have been performed on stationary vehicles, Sawyer said, so it’s unclear if the GPS device will stick to a moving car. Sawyer doesn’t know if it could be easily removed if the driver intentionally sideswipes another car. The Los Angeles Police Department will become the first law enforcement agency in the country to outfit cruisers with a device that can propel a Global Positioning System unit onto a fleeing car, allowing officers to track the vehicle without a dangerous pursuit, officials announced Thursday. As part of a pilot program, the department will install the devices in the grill of some squad cars in the fall, Chief William Bratton said. “In the car-chase capital of the world, this device is a very appropriate device,” Bratton said. “It reduces the need for officers to have an active pursuit.” The concept is simple. Instead of engaging in a high-speed chase, dangerous for both the police and the public, an officer can fire a GPS tracking device onto a car.