Police are using a new high-tech location device for tracking people called “GPS Bullets.”
GPS bullets allow cops to track suspects in cars without getting into dangerous, high-speed chases that could injure or kill police officers or innocent bystanders. These location-based bullets are made by a company called StarChase and they can be shot at moving vehicles for real-time tracking via GPS.
The bullets are not deadly and they can be shot out from a launcher that is located in the front grille of a police car. Police officers can use a portable remote control device that shoots the GPS trackers at the target vehicle. The bullets attach themselves to the target vehicle using adhesive. Once the GPS bullet is attached to a suspect’s car, the vehicle can be tracked from any mobile device or laptop.
The tracking bullets are launched using a laser-guided tracking system. The target vehicle is then tracked in real time on Google Street View Maps that police can access through a secure internet site.
StarChase’s GPS bullets are currently being used by the Milwaukee Police Department. The Milwaukee police report that they currently have about a 50 percent success rate with hitting the target vehicle. The Milwaukee Police Department expects that success rate to improve to around 75%, once officers get more practice using the device.
The StarChase devices cost around $5,000 each. The Milwaukee Police Department is using money from seized criminal assets to pay for the devices.
According to statistics, high-speed car chases kill hundreds of people every year in the United States. A third of these fatalities are innocent bystanders.
According to StarChase, there are around 100 police departments in 25 states that are currently using the vehicle-tracking bullets. Some police departments report that the GPS tracking bullets have been used to locate suspects who were associated with burglaries, carjackings and other violent crimes.
Privacy advocates and civil liberties groups generally agree that these GPS tracking bullets should not be an issue as long as the police officers who use them have probable cause to track the people in the target vehicles. However, the American Civil Liberties Union has said publicly that the tracking needs to stop once the police have caught the target vehicle. They also warned that police should not delay catching the vehicle just so they can continue to track the locations of the people inside the target vehicle.
Generally, it is up to the police officer’s discretion when deciding whether or not to deploy the tracking bullets. However, officers are not allowed to fire the tracking devices at motorcycles and any situations where the GPS bullets are used must fit within the department’s rules for pursuit.