The StarChase system installs into the grille of a police car a compressed-air cannon, which can fire 4.5-inch GPS projectiles that stick to a parked or fleeing vehicle, using a high-grade adhesive. The GPS tags then enable the patrol car to back off, while computers at police headquarters track the suspect car’s movements.
The system was designed to eliminate the need for high-speed car chases, which are blamed for 360 deaths every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Trevor Fischbach, president of the Virginia Beach-Va.-based StarChase, told Industry Leaders magazine the system enables police to keep tabs on a fleeing suspect and plan how to apprehend him strategically, rather than race wildly after him.
“The agencies using StarChase report back that officer behavior across the entire on-duty patrol is totally different,” Fischbach commented. “Normally, when officers hear ‘pursuit in progress’ over their radios, they fly to the scene. StarChase reduces that adrenaline. Now, when they hear ‘StarChase’ over the radio, they stay put and wait for further instructions from dispatch.”
The question of whether police GPS tracking is constitutional or not, however, has already been challenged in court.
In the 2012 United States v. Jones decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled police placing a GPS system on a vehicle constitutes a “search” under the Fourth Amendment. The court ruled police had exceeded the scope of their warrant in leaving a GPS device on suspected drug trafficker Antoine Jones’ vehicle.
StarChase, however, argues a Fourth Amendment search may still be considered “reasonable” – meaning it doesn’t require a warrant – such as when police are pursuit of a suspect following a crime, the time when the StarChase system is intended to be used.
“The reason we passed that litmus test is because we fit in a very unique area within GPS,” Fischbach told Business Insider. “Our technology isn’t deployed until probable cause [has been established] or exigent circumstances.”
Video of how the system works can be seen below:
Business Insider reports more than 15 law enforcement and government agencies in the U.S. are currently using the StarChase system, including the Arizona Highway Patrol, the police department in Austin, Texas, and Iowa Highway Patrol.
Fischbach explained other agencies have reportedly declined to be identified as equipped with StarChase, concerned criminals will act to avoid StarChase once they know that certain police departments are using it.