Redmond police using vehicle-mounted GPS tracking system to track down fleeing suspects

The Redmond Police Department started using StarChase Pursuit in January to safely pursue fleeing suspects.

StarChase is a vehicle-mounted GPS launcher that uses technology to provide real-time information to the police. This allows officers to track a suspect’s car from a distance.

“It is a GPS-enabled technology that allows officers to tag a vehicle, back off and then virtually monitor the location and actions of the suspect vehicle,” Chief Darrell Lowe said. “Once the vehicle comes to a stop, the officers are able to safely approach the vehicle and take the suspects into custody.”

The StarChase device is then removed from the car with no damage.

Lowe said his officers have had success in apprehending suspects safely since they started using it.

“No technology is foolproof, but thus far we have had only positive outcomes utilizing it,” he said.

“Redmond Police Department is among a handful of agencies in Washington state participating in this program to test the efficiencies and effectiveness of the technology in the safe apprehension of fleeing suspects,” Lowe said. “StarChase is a tactical tool that allows our officers to make an arrest while keeping our officers, the suspect, and community members safe.”

The grant runs through June 30, “at which point the participating agencies will provide information, essentially, back to the Washington Association of Sheriff’s and Police Chiefs,” Lowe said. “That information will then be shared with our legislators and with the governor’s office, and a decision or determination will be made whether or not this technology is viable for law enforcement.”

Redmond police have already used StarChase to successfully catch several criminals. Nationwide, the technology has been used on stolen cars, DUIs, human and drug trafficking, and other offenses, the department said.

Lowe said this is a viable resource to have, but he believes that pursuit policies should be left up to individual police departments.

“The pursuit laws as written are too restrictive, and while this is an additional tool, this is not the solution. This will not eliminate the need for pursuing suspects,” Lowe said.