HOUSTON – Houston police unveiled on Tuesday a new way they can keep chases from happening right here.
On a typical day, Houston Police officials say they’re involved in two chases, most lasting less than 5 minutes.
But sometimes, as we’ve seen, that’s all the time it takes for both citizens and police officers caught in the middle of it to be hurt or even killed.
On Tuesday, HPD is unveiling two new tools they hope will save lives by cutting down on the need to pursue suspects in the first place.
The first is called the StarChase system.
Officers shoot a GPS-enabled dart from the front of their patrol vehicle that sticks to the back of the vehicle they’re trying to stop.
They can then use software to see where the car is, what direction it’s going and how fast in real time.
The second new system: Night Hawk spike strips.
Officers can remotely deploy them at a moments notice to blow out the suspect tires, then quickly retract them to protect the officer’s vehicle.
This saves them from having to lay them down and put them up themselves, keeping them out of harm’s way.
The department was already in the process of trying to get this technology when Officer Richard Martin was killed in the line of duty in May of last year.
Martin was laying down spike strips on Kirkwood when a fleeing driver struck him.
The StarChase units cost $5,000 apiece and will start with eight units. The NighHawk spike strips are around $3,000 a piece with three units.
HPD says they’ll roll this program out as soon as possible and test it for the next year to see how effective it is.