- Associated Press - Thursday, August 6, 2015

MILWAUKEE (AP) - New tracking technology acquired by Milwaukee police will allow officers to keep tabs on criminal suspects without a dangerous high-speed chase.

On Wednesday, city officials announced that the Milwaukee Police Department will begin outfitting squad cars with devices that fire GPS units onto fleeing vehicles. The new approach could help solve problems with the department’s restrictive pursuit policy, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1gcZtXD ) reported.

The policy requires officers to have probable cause that a person inside a car is committing a violent felony or is a “clear and immediate threat to the safety of others” before pursuing the car.

The new devices could allow officers to apprehend criminals who exploit the pursuit policy by tinting car windows so they can’t see inside and then speeding away, according to the newspaper.

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said the GPS technology, which was created StarChase LLC in Virginia Beach, is a “step in the right direction.” He reiterated that the decision to tightening the department’s pursuit policy five years ago was to reduce deaths and injuries that can occur in police chases.

The policy, which doesn’t allow pursuits “solely for traffic infractions” or because a driver refuses to stop, was changed after four people were killed by drivers as they fled police Dec. 31, 2009, and March 1, 2010. Three of those deaths occurred over a two-day period.

The top priority of the policy is the “protection of innocent lives,” Flynn said last month.

And the StarChase technology will further that goal and allow “for a safer, more focused, more effective apprehension of a suspect who flees,” Milwaukee police officials said in a news release.

A standard StarChase unit costs about $5,000. But the final cost of purchasing the devices for the department hasn’t been determined, said a Milwaukee police spokesman.

In the news release from city officials, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Common Council President Michael Murphy and Ald. Terry Witkowski, chairman of the council’s public safety committee, voiced their support for the GPS technology.

But Ald. Bob Donovan, a mayoral candidate and frequent critic of the department’s pursuit policy, expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the new technology and its costs.


Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, https://www.jsonline.com

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