- Associated Press - Sunday, January 10, 2016

LAWRENCE, Ind. (AP) - Police in the Indianapolis suburb of Lawrence are acquiring GPS trackers that are fired out of the grills of squad cars and onto the vehicles of fleeing suspects.

Lawrence has been awarded a $14,000 grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to buy the GPS devices, The Indianapolis Star (https://indy.st/1O3QapB) reported. As of late last month, Lawrence police expected to get them in about 90 days.

With the technology from Virginia company StarChase, officers can back off from high-speed chases and follow suspects at safer speeds.

“This is just another tool in our toolbox,” Lawrence Police Capt. Gary Woodruff said.

The company has installed the trackers in about 50 departments in the past three years. Each one costs $5,000, in addition to operational costs for GPS air time.

A device installed in a squad car’s grill uses compressed air to shoot out the trackers at a distance of about two car lengths. Officers can aim using a laser, and an adhesive attaches the tracker to the suspect’s vehicle. Police can stay back and coordinate road blocks and interceptions, rather than continue the chase at high speeds.

Company president Trevor Fischbach said the technology “keeps things from escalating.”

“It lets the cops get into an offensive position rather than a reactive position,” Fischbach said.

Police in Lawrence have wide discretion when to chase motorists, Woodruff said. The pursuit is monitored by a supervisor, who can call it off if it begins to endanger civilians or pursuing officers.

Woodruff said the department hopes to have one tracker on each shift.

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