The Delta Police Department (DPD) is testing a new way to track suspect vehicles that fail to stop for police.
After seeing a rise in the number of vehicles failing to stop for police, eight DPD vehicles were recently equipped with StarChase, a miniature GPS tag and launcher, as part of a one-year pilot project that gives police officers the ability to shoot a tracking projectile at fleeing vehicles.
Using a compressed-air launcher and a laser to target the fleeing vehicle, once deployed, the device sticks to the suspect vehicle, allowing the pursuing DPD member to back off and follow the suspect using a GPS tracker.
According to DPD spokesperson Sgt. Sharlene Brooks, Delta is the first police department in Canada to use this technology.
"We really knew that we needed to have some additional tools in order to capture the offenders while mitigating risk to the general public because we know through experience there's inherent risk involved when you're engaged in a pursuit," said Brooks.
The launching device is secured to the front of the police vehicle and the tag can then be activated by the officer from inside the cruiser.
With incidents of vehicles fleeing from police spread out between both North and South Delta, Police Chief Neil Dubord feels the device will be a valuable tool for his members.
“I think that people know that we won’t put other people at risk if a chase is for something that is of a minor nature,” Dubord said. “(StarChase) doesn’t force our officers to give chase and put anyone at risk. We can just follow it through the GPS tracker that’s put onto the car and whenever the car slows down or stops, we can be there to be able to greet them.”
The cost for the device is $1,500 per vehicle for a total cost of $12,000 and was paid for by the Delta Police Foundation.
Before expanding the program to all the cars in the fleet, Brooks said they’ll first wait to see how effective the device proves to be, then make that decision.