LIVINGSTON COUNTY – The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office is the first in the state to use StarChase, GPS tracking devices to mark and follow fleeing cars.
Livingston County Sheriff Thomas Dougherty says that the StarChase ‘puck’ is shot from the front of the patrol car and sticks to the fleeing vehicle with a 30-pound magnet and a powerful adhesive. The tags send a GPS signal to the internet, which dispatchers can track and send officers to intercept the vehicle wherever it goes.
“We can shoot this puck, tag it with GPS and then back off because typically what pushes pursuits faster and faster is the actual chase by cops,” said Dougherty.
The StarChase equipment cost the Sheriff’s Office $5,000. The initial purchase of a StarChase ‘puck’ costs $250. Dougherty said that they will be replaced for free if used on a fleeing vehicle.
Sheriff’s Office sergeants decide in the moment whether or not a Deputy will pursue a fleeing car. They say that a successful puck deployment might completely prevent a high-speed chase that would put everyone involved and innocent bystanders at risk.
“The idea is to try and reduce your pursuits rather than increase them,” said Sheriff’s Sgt. Joseph Breu. “If you’re chasing someone at 100-plus miles an hour, maybe you don’t need to if you can successfully deploy a tag on it. If you can slow your speeds down, obviously they’ll slow their speeds down as well. If they don’t believe you’re following them anymore, they’re not going to speed up.”
Dougherty said that the Sheriff’s Office will continue their policy to chase fleeing offenders, but hopefully do so in a safer manner.
“Here, we do pursue,” said Dougherty. “We’ll pursue in the interest of justice anybody anytime, but in a reasonable fashion.”