OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. (PIX11) — The Old Westbury Police Department is now using a GPS tracking system to try to avoid police pursuits.
It is the first department on Long Island to purchase the StarChase system. The technology uses an air compressor to launch canisters containing GPS from a device on the front of a patrol car. The canister can travel 20 to 30 feet away. Strong adhesive makes it stick to the back of a fleeing car.
“As soon as it leaves the launcher, it activates GPS and immediately comes up on our tracking maps in headquarters, but we can also access that in cars,” Old Westbury Police Chief Stuart Cameron said.
The goal is to avoid high-speed chases.
“More and more people are running from police,” Cameron said. “They really need to be held accountable and it needs to be done in a safe manner. We can’t endanger our police officers, we can’t endanger the public, and we can’t endanger the people running from us.”
The system can be activated from inside the car, or the officer can use a remote to fire it from outside the car during a traffic stop.
Cameron said it costs $6,000 to put the system on each patrol car. They have outfitted four of the village’s six cars with the device.
The Nassau County and Suffolk County police departments are not using the technology. A Nassau County police spokesperson said the department does not plan to implement the technology in the future. A Suffolk County police spokesperson said, “The Suffolk County Police Department is always evaluating new technology.”
Matt Shaffer, the vice president for sales and business development for StarChase, said in an email to PIX11 News, “We are not at liberty to discuss agencies using Star Chase that have not gone public with this information via media. I can share that we have other agencies in NY and 30+ other states. We have agencies from every level of government domestically (local, county, state and federal) and numerous countries worldwide (Canada, UK, Israel, to name a few).”