Police Testing $5,000 Car Cannons with $500 GPS-Tracking Bullets

Credit: 18r / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SACredit: 18r / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SAPolice forces in Florida and Iowa are testing a new device that allows officers to use GPS to track fleeing vehicles. Described as “James Bond-like," “Batman”-esque, and not-so-titillating “T-shirt cannons,” the gadget is a compressed-air launcher produced by a company called StarChase. The launcher is mounted in the grill of a squad car. Guided by a laser sighting, an officer simply presses a button, shooting a sticky bullet onto the back of the car he is pursuing. Encased in the bullet is a GPS-tracking device.

The Des Moines Register explains the potential benefits of such a system:

“It’s a new technology that’s come out that’s going to protect a lot of people,” [Sgt. Scott] Bright said. “We don’t want to take somebody’s innocent life because of pursuit.”

The GPS tracker allows law enforcement officials to continue monitoring the whereabouts of a suspect without engaging in what are often high-speed chases that can put officers, the suspects and the general public in danger, officials said.

When the vehicle slows down or stops, officers can close in again and make an arrest.

Nevertheless, there are some concerns with the cost, effectiveness, and constitutionality of StarChase's product.

“Demonstrations showed that only one out of four bullets shot at a parked police car actually stuck,” according to International Business Times, “And at $500 a pop, that’s an expensive shot to miss. Also, each mechanism costs about $5,000 to install, and every bullet is good for only one use.”

StarChase assures that its tracking device works within the confines of United States v. Jones, in which the Supreme Court ruled last year that attaching a GPS-device to a suspect's car constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment. That does not mean StarChase is in the clear, though. As Reason's Ron Bailey and Jacob Sullum have written about last week's ruling in United States v. Katzin, “police do need a warrant before planting a GPS tracker on a suspect’s vehicle.”

And, drivers are already wising up to the new tactic. In one case in Iowa, “apparently, the suspect heard on a police scanner that a GPS tracking device was on the vehicle, found it and removed it from the truck.”

The New York Post asks, “If police lose sight of the suspect vehicle and find it later, how are they to prove who was driving it during the chase?”

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  • ||

    The GPS tracker allows law enforcement officials to continue monitoring the whereabouts of a suspect without engaging in what are often high-speed chases that can put officers, the suspects and the general public in danger, officials said.

    Because perps never ditch.

  • fish||

    As Reason's Ron Bailey and Jacob Sullum have written about last week's ruling in United States v. Katzin, “police do need a warrant before planting a GPS tracker on a suspect’s vehicle.”

    Oh don't worry...the warrant will be there.....just like wrapping a rock with a love note before throwing it through the window.

  • ||

    There's no way this could ever be abused, of course.

    "Shit dude, that chick we just pulled over for speeding is hot. Tag her car and let's find out where she lives."

  • Brett L||

    Epi, I, uh, hate to tell you this but usually they get your license and ask if you currently reside there. So... yeah, there are probably a bunch of cops out there dumb enough to do exactly what you are suggesting.

  • ||

    "Shit dude, that chick that just came out of the doughnut shop is hot. Tag her car and let's find out where she lives."

  • Brett L||

    "Oh, damn, a real call. I guess we can't stalk this chick all shift. Tag her, and let's go get our cop on."

  • Sudden||

    "Oh, damn, a real call. I guess we can't stalk this chick all shift. Tag her, and let's go get our cop on.shoot a dog."

    FIFY

  • Sunken Idaho||

    I was a police officer once (I know, scary)and running plates on hot women happens a lot.

  • Brett L||

    The hell you say. Next you'll tell us that some guys were in it for the pension and benefits and weren't noble-minded public servants at all.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Stalking women is typical in every profession and trade, as far as I can tell.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Why not just use real 20mm cannons. Fleeing = resisting= punishable by death offense.

  • Brett L||

    Oh, for fuck's sake. How will they get their Bullitt on and have high speed chases if they can just tag a car and drop back?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    My vehicle is equipped with countermeasures. (High gloss wax.)

  • Swiss Servator, Burn Böögg!||

    I use reactive armor. Better to destroy the tracker.

  • Rasilio||

    OT: Texas Judge caught texting instructions to help secure a convictiot to the DA

    Anyone wanna guess which party she belongs to?

  • Raven Nation||

    My first guess would have been Team Red since it sounds like a law & order type. But then, when I read the story, her party wasn't mentioned (or did I miss it) which led me to assume she is Team Blue. The comments seem to confirm that.

  • Rasilio||

  • fish||

    Texas district Judge Elizabeth E. Coker is stepping down from the bench after being caught engaging in a massive perversion of justice. A whistleblower revealed that Corker was sending text messages to prosecutors with suggestions on questions to ask in court in order to secure a conviction.

    Well thank god she stepped down....we wouldn't want there to be any legal action taken against her thus screwing up her bright future as a politician.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Bitch should be getting disbarred, too.

    -jcr

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    And then tarred. And then feathered. And then the feathers ripped off like adhesive bandages. Then the fence rail thing.

  • Troy muy grande boner||

    Coker signed an "AGREEMENT TO RESIGN FROM JUDICIAL OFFICE IN LIEU OF DISCIPLINARY ACTION" with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct…

    So this cunt won't even be disbarred? She deserves prison.

    There's more

    [J]udge Coker used Assistant District Attorney Jones to privately communicate information about the Reeves case to the assistant district attorney prosecuting the case; to suggest questions for the prosecutor to ask during the trial; to ensure that a witness was able to refresh his memory and rehabilitate his testimony by reviewing his videotaped interview with law enforcement before he took the stand for the second time the following day; and to discuss legal issues pertinent to the case. in an unsuccessful effort to assist the State obtain a guilty verdict in the case…

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Man, she's a JILF.

  • Ted S.||

    There are Juggalos you'd like to fuck?

  • Brett L||

    Young, healthy, stupid... I'm missing the problem.

  • Bobarian||

    Healthy? Russian Roulette.

  • AlmightyJB||

    so you want to be a coker poker huh?

  • Ted S.||

    TEAM BE RULED!!!

  • AlmightyJB||

    “We don’t want to take somebody’s innocent life because of pursuit.”

    Then don't pursue asshole. Someone might get away? Egads, the horror! Fucking pigs.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Er well I think that's the ostensible point of this doohickey. Further, depending on the crime, someone getting away really is unacceptable.

  • AlmightyJB||

    From what I've seen on cop shows that is probably a very small percentage.

  • Agammamon||

    I was gonna disagree with this - then I realized that 90% of these pursuits start off because of some bullshit traffic violation. there are very few traffic violations that are worth a high-speed pursuit down an empty freeway, let alone anywhere dangerous.

  • Raven Nation||

    "Guided by a laser sighting, an officer simply presses a button, shooting a sticky bullet onto the back of the car he is pursuing."

    It's all fun & games until someone loses an eye.

    Seriously, how long would it take to add up all the things that can go wrong with this?

  • Tonio||

    Probably enough force to kill a person if it hits them right. Watch out innocent bystanders.

  • Tim||

    Does it work on dogs?

  • fish||

    What doesn't?

  • Brett L||

    Those stupid collars that spray bug spray candle stuff every time they bark. And electric fence collars. Many dogs are too stupid to understand that level of cause and effect.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Good thing I paid the extra hundred bucks for the teflon clear coat treatment on my getaway car.

    -jcr

  • fish||

    I'll have to check into that option the next time I go to the car wash.

  • Enough About Palin||

    Don't need the Trucoat.

  • Enough About Palin||

    Don't need the Trucoat.

  • Enough About Palin||

    Don't need the Trucoat.

  • Enough About Palin||

    Don't need the Trucoat.

  • Enough About Palin||

    WTF???

  • Lord Humungus||

    how's that rap album coming along?

  • Sudden||

    That hook would be better than most commercial rap hooks these days.

  • Swiss Servator, Burn Böögg!||

    *golf clap*

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    The reason server slowed down while it was processing your comment because it was exactly 3 o'clock, so you hit submit three more times and the server processed your comment four times.

  • Jesus H. Christ||

    It only sticks to 1 in 4 "parked" cars. What will the average be for moving vehicles, which is where this would be used? I mean, if you want to attach a gps transmitter to a parked car, there's no need for a 5 grand cannon.

  • Vulgar Madman||

    There's always a need for a 5k cannon!

  • Vulgar Madman||

    Just be glad it isn't a real cannon.

  • CE||

    Yet.

  • JD the elder||

    The New York Post asks, “If police lose sight of the suspect vehicle and find it later, how are they to prove who was driving it during the chase?”

    Prove, hell. In New York, there's probably a law on the books that says "Anyone in a car that was involved in a chase is presumed to be guilty."

  • Kid Xenocles||

    Can we at least be happy that they are saying words that express concern for bystander safety?

  • Paul.||

    Is it just me or is today a low libertarian outrage day?

  • Vulgar Madman||

    It's early yet.

  • MattJ||

    The New York Post asks, “If police lose sight of the suspect vehicle and find it later, how are they to prove who was driving it during the chase?”

    Someone very close to me was involved in a police chase in a rural area. He got out of sight of the cruiser chasing him and ditched the car, then made his way on foot to a friend's house, where he crashed for the night. The cops spent all night trying to find him, which is how I found out about the situation at 2:30 in the am.

    In the morning, he called the cops to report his car stolen.

  • CE||

    We have a few questions for you Matt, would you mind coming down to the station?

  • MattJ||

    I live out of state. So... no.

  • Agammamon||

    So, accessory after the fact and fleeing the jurisdiction. I think we can make a decent federal case out of this.

  • Sunken Idaho||

    Next up for the police, the Dreadnok Thunder Machine:

    http://www.yojoe.com/vehicles/86/thundermachine/

  • Lord Humungus||

    hmm...anyone remember the scene in Thief where the main character takes the police tracker and puts it on a bus heading out of town?

  • Paul.||

    Yarp. Did the same thing in Heat, also made my Michael Mann.

  • Lord Humungus||

    damn that bastard!

  • ||

    And when the cop smashes into a group of pedestrians because he's too busy trying to bring his sight on target to notice the upcoming curve in the road, the fleeing driver who didn't hit any pedestrians will have vehicular manslaughter added to his charges.

  • Drake||

    I remember the scene in Serenity where they sent a dozen transponders in different directions.

  • Tim||

    The ultimate answer is that in a few years every new car will be equipped with a black box that not only records how you drive and is downloadable by the police, it will shut your engine off on police command.

  • some guy||

    And within a week someone will figure out how to reprogram the things so that they record no data and ignore all shutdown commands. Within two weeks you'll be able to download a 5$ app that let's your phone do the reprogramming automatically via RF. Within three weeks the world will have a new multi-millionaire.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    I am completely against warrantless gps tracking of vehicles. Except that in this case, pursuit kind of cancels out the need for a warrant. Its still a dumbass idea that's not going to work well.

  • Drake||

    But cop shops are awash in cash and need cool toys - so it will sell.

  • Paul.||

    They're at war out there! Would you deny our brave troops the equipment they need to defeat the enemy?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    “If police lose sight of the suspect vehicle and find it later, how are they to prove who was driving it during the chase?”

    Torture.

  • CE||

    Sort of like GTA, where all your enemies show up as pink dots on your radar? Cool....

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