KIRO NEWSRADIO OPINION
Ross: New criminal pursuit technology means no ‘Get Out of Jail Free’
The legislature is still looking for a way to fix the state’s police pursuit policy – a policy that a lot of police chiefs think is fundamentally flawed, including Redmond Police Chief Darrell Lowe.
“As it stands right now, the pursuit restrictions are too restrictive. It has empowered criminals to have a ‘Get Out of Jail Free card,’ and that’s a dangerous path to go down,” Lowe said.
More from Dave Ross: Chinese balloon shot down was ripe for counter-surveillance
But he also understands that police chases are dangerous. So he outfitted his department with a system made by a company in Virginia called StarChase.
“StarChase is a GPS-enabled technology, which allows an officer to tag a vehicle when that vehicle comes to a stop,” Lowe explained. “We are then able to safely approach and take the suspect into custody, thus minimizing pursuits.”
If a cop pulls up on a stolen car, he pushes a button, and a launcher mounted on the grille of the police car fires a sticky GPS-homing device that gloms onto the target vehicle and sends out its location and speed every three seconds to a computer map in the police cruiser.
It’s basically like an Apple tag, except with an infinite range. And the idea is to attach this thing to the suspect car without the crook realizing it, so he thinks the cops have given up.
“So if they don’t see the police, then the hope is that they would not endanger the public, and we would monitor them,” Lowe said. “As an example, if [the criminal] stopped at the mall and he got out. At that point, we know where the vehicle is.”
And does it work? Yes, it does.
“One of our deployments, it was, in fact, a stolen car. And another two deployments, it was an individual suspected of being involved in organized retail theft,” Lowe said.
But what’s really special about this technology is that I heard this interview on the Jason Rantz Show on our sister station KTTH.
Jason, as most of you know, is a conservative who believes in small government. But he has no problem with giving the government the tools to secretly track suspects who steal things, and neither do I.
Redmond’s new police tech working in tandem with WA pursuit laws
So if the goal is to stop crooks without engaging in dangerous police chases, I think there can be a political consensus. Even the ACLU says it’s legal!
“This is completely legal. It’s been vetted through the ACLU, the fact that the officer has, at a minimum reasonable suspicion, but in most cases, probable cause to believe that the person is involved in criminal activity,” Lowe said. “It meets the legal standards for deployment.”
And yes, he was more than happy to go on the air with Jason and describe what they’re doing though the crooks might be listening.
“If the crooks learn about it, then yes, this is a tool that the Redmond Police Department has available. So the moral of the story is don’t come to Redmond and commit crime,” Lowe concluded.
Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.
- Tune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.