ST. PETERSBURG - A new crime fighting tool to cut down on high speed police chases in St. Petersburg looks like it was inspired from a James Bond movie.
The St. Petersburg Police Department is testing the "StarChase" technology on several patrol cars for six months.
The tool uses a compressed air gun attached to the front of a patrol car. When fired, the gun shoots out a sticky GPS device that attaches to a suspect's car during a chase.
If all goes as planned, the device will stick and beam back GPS coordinates of the car in real-time to an officer's computer of phone -- meaning there's no reason to continue a hot, dangerous chase.
"This is something that we have found that we think will make them just a little less dangerous," said Melanie Bevan, Assistant Chief of SPPD.
The department is the first agency in Florida to test out the technology that has proved effective in other markets.
Officers here are still working out the kinks. During a demonstration for reporters on Friday, some of the devices wouldn't stick to a parked car, however, they're only meant to be fired once before they have to be sent back to the company for new adhesive.
"We're in the evaluation stage. We are willing at the police department to try something new. If it works, we are willing to add a new and valuable tool to our tool chest. If it doesn't, then we go back and try something better," Bevan said.
The goal is to cut down on the number of high-speed chases that are dangerous not only for officers and suspects but other innocent drivers.
So far in 2013, St. Petersburg Police have been involved in 13 chases that resulted in four chases.
Last year they had 26 chases and 17 crashes.
"The less pursuits we have in our city every year, the better. Unfortunately, in our city it is a reality. We don't have a lot but we do have some," Bevan said.
She added, even if the tool stops one high-speed chase, she'll be happy as the department moves into this new era of crime fighting tools.
The downside: the sticky GPS devices aren't cheap.
After each use, the department has to send them back to the company and purchase a new one for 250 dollars.
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