Council looking at GPS tracker to avoid police chases

Sep 17, 2014

Buffalo Police may start using a gadget right out of James Bond movies to help get away from potentially-dangerous high-speed chases.

Common Councilmember Richard Fontana was on the edge of a high-speed chase last year and started researching ways to catch crooks without engaging in movie-like chase scenes.

A compressed-air launcher uses a laser to target the fleeing vehicle and then deploys a GPS tag.

The Lovejoy representative found a device which is mounted on a police car that shoots a GPS homing device which sticks to the car being chased. The device uses compressed air to launch and a laser to target the fleeing vehicle. That lets police slow down while the device sends a message saying where the car is.

Niagara Councilmember David Rivera is a retired cop and says those chases are tense.

"One of my first calls in the South District was a high-speed chase in which the police car actually got into an accident. So I understand the need to restrict certain chases and I think the department has a policy for high-speed chases, when to continue and when to break it off. Certainly, public safety is paramount," Rivera says..

Rivera says cops worry about these chases in heavily populated areas of the city with cars coming out of cross streets without knowing what's happening. In two recent incidents, there have been multiple injuries in a chase: two officers in July and seven people in a collision at Delaware and Edward on an afternoon last November.

The devices aren't cheap at $5,000 per unit. The Police Department is being asked to look into the gadgets from StarChase and report back to the Council.