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Arizona city arms police vehicles with cannons that fire sticky GPS trackers

(Twitter Photo/@StarChaseLLC)

PHOENIX – One Arizona city is implementing a GPS tagging system that seems like something out of a spy movie to help police track fleeing suspects without the dangerous high-speed chases.

The police department in the Pinal County city of Maricopa, around 30 miles south of Phoenix, has equipped four of its vehicles with StarChase equipment, a tool that launches can-like tracking devices that stick to cars.

“It’s a safer method for going after anybody that would be maybe fleeing from us, or any type of threat that could arise,” Ricardo Alvarado, spokesman for the Maricopa Police Department, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.

The range of the devices is about 1½ car lengths, Alvarado said, and each canister has two sticking mechanisms: a strong adhesive and a powerful magnet.

“Once that is attached, it will allow us to track that vehicle using a GPS software,” he said.

That way police can continue monitoring the suspect from out of view.

“Studies have proven that once you back off of a vehicle or once the person in a vehicle feels that they are no longer being followed by law enforcement, they tend to slow down and tend to try to blend in and try to drive normal,” Alvarez said.

Once the suspect stops, police can move in for the arrest without any kind of risky car chase.

Although the equipment has been installed, it won’t be used until staff training has been completed and department policy for the devices has been finalized sometime early next year.

“We just can’t go around and stick these things or shoot these things on vehicles just because we feel that we want to track them for other reasons,” he said. “We would need a warrant for that.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ashley Flood contributed to this report.

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