Study of Tracking Tool Used During Police Pursuits

National Institute of Justice

An article and report on a study of the use of the remote vehicle tracking system StarChase are available from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).

StarChase is a GPS-based system that provides a capability for tracking a fleeing vehicle at a distance by launching and attaching a GPS-tracking tag to a fleeing vehicle and providing real-time data on the vehicle’s location. The National Criminal Justice Technology Research, Test and Evaluation Center conducted studies at three law enforcement agencies that use the technology. The center is funded by NIJ and hosted by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

The study identifies general findings on tracking technologies and StarChase-specific findings.

General Findings:

  1. GPS-enabled pursuit technologies such as StarChase extend police flexibility by providing remote tracking capability when line-of-sight vehicle tracking becomes unfeasible.
  2. Success or failure of a pursuit technology such as StarChase is related to the integration of the new technology into existing pursuit policies and practices.
  3. A technology/system “champion” who advocates for its use aids in the successful adoption and integration of a new pursuit technology.
  4. Law enforcement agencies that do not have a process in place for deploying and evaluating new technologies may lack the data required to comprehensively assess a technologies’ impact and effectiveness.
  5. Law enforcement agencies engaged in new technology deployment and evaluation would benefit from an end-to-end assessment process that includes the collection of comparable baseline data.

StarChase-Specific Findings:

  1. Implementation and use of StarChase varied among the end-user agencies. In some cases, use was consistent with the stated purpose of the system (e.g., tagging a vehicle during or prior to a pursuit and tracking the vehicle from a distance). In some cases, the agencies deployed the system with a different intended use or Concept of Operations (CONOPS).
  2. In two of the three case studies presented, the data suggests that the use of StarChase, when properly deployed, had a positive impact on the pursuit outcome for apprehensions. In the other case study, apprehensions remained high whether the system was properly or improperly deployed.
  3. End users’ opinion of StarChase is that it is a helpful pursuit management tool, but that it is not a comprehensive solution for avoiding or successfully resolving all possible pursuit scenarios.

For more information, read the article about the report here and access the report here.

About The Author

The Justice Technology Information Center is a component of the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center System, a program of the National Institute of Justice. JTIC serves as an information resource for technology and equipment related to law enforcement, corrections and courts, and hosts the NIJ Compliance Testing Program, a voluntary equipment standards and testing program for ballistic- and stab-resistant body armor and other officer safety equipment, which conducts equipment testing, reviews and analyzes testing data and disseminates results.

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