HOUSTON - It's the latest in crime fighting technology. The Houston Police Department has rolled out two devices that promise to cut down on the number of high speed chases, end police pursuits a lot faster, and keep officers, suspects and bystanders safer.
With the push of a button, huge risks for injuries, damages and even death is cut down dramatically. KPRC 2 was first told you about the Night Hawk remotely deployed spike strip being used by Austin Police last year.
"Instead of chasing the suspect faster and faster, we can back off, and statistics show that once we do back off, turn off lights and sirens that the suspect does slow down," HPD Sgt. James Turner said.
The Star Chase Tracking device is attached to the front grill of the police car. It's got a laser that helps pinpoint an exact spot on the back of the suspect's vehicle in pursuit. It's launched, and once attached, works as a GPS unit. Officers fall back and catch up with the criminal when they've finally stopped.
"It gives us the ability to track the target, and move in for an arrest when that vehicle comes to a safe stop, that's obviously safer for police officers and safer for the public," Turner said.
The remote controlled Night Hawk, a newer version of the spike strip. It’s much more accurate than before, and a lot safer. With the new device, officers don't have to get in the road to lay out the strips during the chase.
"The officer can be some distance away when it’s deployed so they're out of the traffic, they're out of the way of the vehicle that may be traveling at high speed so they don't get run over," Turner said.
So far HPD has five Star Chase units, and three Night Hawk spike strips. They cost about $5,000 each.
The funding comes from auto dealer funds from the auto theft division HPD has access to.
Officials said they've tested and trained with both technologies for almost a year.
There is no set time table just yet, but HPD said it won't be long before they'll be using this new technology out on the roads.