Wash. police using StarChase to minimalize suspect pursuits
With a press of a button, a small air compressor inside the cruiser's engine bay propels a GPS tracker through the air and onto the back of a suspect's vehicle
By Sarah Roebuck
LYNNWOOD, Wash. — The Lynnwood Police Department is using technology to keep up with suspected criminals without having to engage in a pursuit, KING5 reports.
The technology from StarChase is designed to tail a suspect who doesn't pull over. With just a press of a button, a small air compressor inside the cruiser's engine bay propels a GPS tracker through the air and onto the back of a suspect's vehicle.
Police said there must be reasonable suspicion of a felony crime before engaging the system.
“It’s really safer for everyone. The officer doesn’t have to engage in that pursuit, we don’t have to worry about what the other person how erratic they’re driving, we’re able to deploy StarChase and then just hopefully follow from a distance,” Sgt. Brad Reorda told KING5.
In 2021, Washington passed a law that imposes limits on when law enforcement can pursue suspects. Exceptions include violent crimes, domestic violence and other circumstances.
In April, Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill that lowered the bar for police to start a pursuit, changing the threshold from "probable cause" to "reasonable suspicion." In response to the regulations, the Washington State Patrol resorted to utilizing aerial methods.
According to Chris Loftis of the Washington State Patrol, WSP has increasingly depended on their five aircraft fleet to intensify enforcement efforts, targeting a wide range of offenses including speeding and street racing. In Lynnwood, they have a collection of GPS trackers readily available, which they plan to utilize exclusively for suspected felony cases.