NOTTOWAY COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Crewe Police Department is implementing a new technology which allows officers to launch sticky, magnetic GPS trackers from the front of their car and attach it to a suspect’s vehicle.

Crewe Police Chief James “Phil” Morgan said the goal of installing StarChase Guardian VX Vehicle Mounted GPS Launcher systems is to help reduce the risks associated with high-speed chases.

“In the past, it’s either been you pursue the car at a high rate of speed, or you call it off for safety reasons. There’s no real de-escalation measure within that,” he said. “This one gives us a good tool to go ahead and chase the cars without really having to get out there and go 70 or 80 miles an hour through a residential neighborhood.”

The launcher is powered by compressed air and is located in the front grill of police
vehicles. The launcher propels a portable GPS tracking unit that can tag a suspect vehicle.

Once the tracker is attached to the car, police can then de-escalate their pursuit and track the vehicle by receiving cell data on their computer.

Real time GPS tracking data can be shared with multiple officers, dispatch
centers and other agencies, allowing for a more calculated and controlled approach to
stopping a fleeing vehicle, according to a press release from Crewe Police.

“It’s pretty much a no-brainer for us, because it’ll take the chase out of the chase,” Morgan said.

GPS tracking unit on a police car

Morgan said a major corridor running through the town of Crewe and a highway being added to the department’s jurisdiction because of boundary expansion was the reason for getting this technology.

Morgan said the department has been involved with several high-speed chases over the last few year.

“They’re extremely dangerous. It’s several tons of metal going down the road at a high speed,” he said. “The few I’ve been in, they have been very stressful.”

The department received American Rescue Plan Act money for four launchers, Morgan said each one costs about $6,000.

Two launcher systems have been installed so far. Two more police cars will get them as officers get trained by StarChase. Morgan said the technology is also being used in Gate City and Portsmouth.

“These are things that are sitting on cars ready to be deployed and ready to deescalate when we do have to use them,” he said.