Delta police the first in Canada to use tracking darts shot from cruiser
Published Thursday, January 12, 2017 5:41PM PST
Like a scene from a Batman comic, some Delta police cruisers are now equipped with a device that shoots GPS-enabled darts at suspect vehicles in the event of a chase.
The police force south of Vancouver is the first in Canada to use the StarChase Pursuit system, allowing them to track fleeing vehicles without participating in dangerous car chases.
Delta Police Department policy tells officers not to engage in high-speed chases, which can carry a high risk to members of the public. But the downside of the policy is that the fact that they would not be chased became public knowledge to suspects.
"In 2016 we had over 70 fail-to-stop incidents in our area," Delta PD spokesperson Sharlene Brooks told CTV News.
Officers would put on their vehicles' lights and sirens, and suspects would take off, knowing they wouldn't be followed.
So the force looked to another solution, one that would enable it to track vehicles through GPS instead of by car.
The StarChase system allows officers in eight equipped cruisers to push a button, shooting a GPS-enabled adhesive dart from a box on the front of the car onto the back of a fleeing vehicle.
The devices have been synced to a button on the cars' key fobs, so officers who are no longer in the cruiser – for example, approaching the suspect's vehicle on foot – can fire the dart remotely if needed.
An officer used the system for the first time Wednesday night, when he noticed a driver behaving in a suspicious manner.
"He felt if he activated his lights it may initiate a flight from police," Brooks explained. So before the officer turned on his lights and siren, he prepped the device and launched the dart.
In that case, the driver did pull over, but the system allows officers to safely keep track of those who don't.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Shannon Paterson