The Milwaukee Police Department will outfit squad cars with devices that can fire GPS units onto fleeing vehicles to track them without engaging in high-speed chases, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The move comes as the department gets mixed responses to its restrictive pursuit policy, which requires officers to have probable cause that someone in the car is committing a violent felony or is “a clear and immediate threat to the safety of others” before pursuing the person. Backers says the policy saves lives; critics argue it allows criminals to get away.
The new devices could be effective in apprehending criminals who exploit the pursuit policy by tinting the windows of stolen or rented cars to prevent police from seeing inside and then speeding away. Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn called use of the GPS technology, created by StarChase LLC, a “step in the right direction.” He said he tightened the pursuit policy five years ago was to reduce deaths and injuries. The policy does not allow pursuits “solely for traffic infractions” or because a driver refuses to stop. It was changed after four people were killed by drivers fleeing police between Dec. 31, 2009, and March 1, 2010. Three of the deaths occurred over two days.