The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Top News

October 29, 2013

Iowa patrol acquires GPS tracking system

The Associated Press

DES MOINES — The Iowa State Patrol has bought a GPS system that lets a trooper track a suspect vehicle instead of giving dangerous chase.

Patrol spokesman Sgt. Scott Bright told The Des Moines Register that only one state patrol car is equipped with the StarChase system but more could be coming.

“It’s a new technology that’s come out that’s going to protect a lot of people,” Bright said. “We don’t want to take somebody’s innocent life because of pursuit.”

Under the system, a trooper pushes a button to launch a GPS tracking projectile from the patrol vehicle’s grille. The projectile, which can be fired up to three car-lengths away, sticks to the fleeing vehicle, allowing the trooper to back off. When the fleeing vehicle slows or stops, troopers can close in and make an arrest.

Trooper Tim Sieleman used the system last week when he tried to stop a vehicle in Council Bluffs that he thought was stolen.

When he turned on his lights, the driver sped up, ran a red light and entered a construction zone. Sieleman shot out the GPS device, which attached to the vehicle’s license plate and the trooper backed off. The vehicle was found later in Omaha, Neb., though the driver escaped.

Despite its advantages, some agencies remain skeptical about the system.

Trevor Fischbach, president of Virginia-based Star Chase, which builds the GPS launcher, said cost is the biggest issue for police agencies. The device costs about $5,000, and each projectile costs $500.

“Proper funding and support are an ongoing challenge for them and for us,” Fischbach said.

He adds, though, that by avoiding the cost of wrecked patrol cars or other damage, the system could quickly pay for itself.

Des Moines police spokesman Sgt. Jason Halifax also had doubts about whether the system would work in cities.

Unlike state troopers, who chase vehicles on roads with long, straight stretches, chases within cities involve tight turns on city streets, making it difficult to get close enough to fire the projectile.

“It doesn’t seem like that feasible of an option for us in town,” Halifax said. “But we certainly are open to new things.”

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Screen shot 2014-04-18 at 4.44.15 PM.png Paint, doodle and sketch: 3 apps for art lovers

    In the absence of a palette of watercolors and a sketchpad, these three apps can fill in as your art supplies of choice.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 19, 2014

  • Way of the Cross photo The Way of the Cross By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer The Way of the Cross

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Hood A year after 'chaos'

    It happened two hours after John Hood finished his run. Like many, he thought the loud boom was just the sound of cannons going off, something that shook the ground. It was odd, but Hood — a 1989 Clinton High School graduate — tried to make it logical, associating the noise with another good happening at the Boston Marathon.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • AGENDA: 4-22-14 Clinton City Council

    The Clinton City Council will meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. followed by a committee of the whole.

    April 18, 2014

  • Judge asks pointed questions in gay marriage case

    A judge in Colorado who will play a pivotal role deciding whether gays should be allowed to wed in the United States asked pointed questions Thursday about whether Oklahoma can legally ban the unions.

    U.S. Circuit Judge Jerome Holmes is seen as the swing vote on the three-judge panel that heard the Oklahoma appeal and a similar case from Utah last week.

    April 18, 2014

  • NASA's moon-orbiting robot crashes down as planned

    April 18, 2014

  • Eyewitness testimony no longer a gold standard

    The American legal system offers few moments as dramatic as an eyewitness to a crime pointing his finger across a crowded courtroom at a defendant.

    The problem is that decades of studies show eyewitness testimony is only right about half the time — a reality that has prompted a small vanguard of police chiefs, courts and lawmakers to toughen laws governing the handling of eyewitnesses and their accounts of crimes.

    April 18, 2014

AP Video