Berkeley councilman proposes high-tech solution for police pursuits

A City of Berkeley councilman is proposing a new type of crime fighting tool that could make police pursuits safer for officers and prevent injury to innocent bystanders.

Councilman Kriss Worthington will propose during the city’s meeting on March 27th the purchase of a product made by StarChase Technologies.

During a police chase, a GPS tracker mounted under the hood of a police cruiser is attached to a fleeing vehicle during a pursuit.

The product “attaches to a vehicle so the police don’t need to race along keeping up with somebody in a getaway car and they will be able to identify where is that car at and catch them without having these reckless driving through stoplights,” said Worthington.

It is retrofitted into the front grille of a cruiser and during a chase, the officer fires the two-and-a-half-inch projectile GPS tracker that sticks to the feeling vehicle.

“When they’re chasing somebody in a serious crime and their getaway car is racing away at full speed so the police have to race to catch up to and they’re risking the public safety and their own safety in that chase,” the councilman told KTVU.

Worthington said that members of the public alerted him to the product and he research began because of “several scary chases over the years with injury, serious injury.”

A device that can be used to track your vehicle has prompted privacy concerns, which the American Civil Liberties Union, which looked into the device and found no glaring issues.

“I don't see any problem with this technology, assuming that it is used in the kind of way that everybody probably imagines it being used,” wrote Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst at the ACLU.

Worthington says he is working on an ordinance to ensure that the product will only be used to assist police officers in a pursuit.

“It will be a policy on how this equipment can be used so it will be able to be used in high speed car chases but it won’ t be used without a search warrant.”

Roughly 50 cities across the country currently use the StarChase technology product such as Austin, but  none on that list include agencies in Northern California.

The StarChase device is priced at $5,000 and $500 for the reusable projectile GPS that is fired to attach to a fleeing vehicle.