By: Bobbi Sheldon, 9news.com
DENVER — The Denver Police Department is testing a new technology that would allow officers to track the whereabouts of a fleeing suspect vehicle in order to make the arrest at a safer destination, rather than engaging in a high-speed pursuit.
DPD unveiled the new technology during a press conference Wednesday morning. The effort is aimed at reducing high-speed chases that could create a dangerous situation for the community, officers and the suspect.
“We won’t have to engage in near as many chases,” DPD Division Chief of Patrol Ron Thomas said. “There are situations where, because of community safety being paramount, where here we don’t engage in a chase – for a stolen car or some other reason why we’d want to make contact with a vehicle or individual. This will allow us to ultimately make that contact without creating a dangerous situation for citizens.”
Patrol vehicles equipped with the new technology would be able to use compressed air to deploy a non-lethal adhesive tag onto a fleeing suspect’s vehicle. Officers could then use the tracking technology to follow the vehicle to its designation and apprehend the suspect in a tactical and safe manner.
Thomas said DPD starting exploring the program as an option several months ago. The Aurora Police Department and Arvada Police Department are already using the technology.
“We average about four officers a year that are injured as a result of a crash,” Thomas said. “That injury costs the city about $20,000 and that doesn’t take into account the injuries to suspects, other citizens, damage to other property and just really the extreme danger that’s presented by a high-speed pursuit in the first place.”
During the pilot program, patrol vehicles equipped with the system will be “strategically placed in communities that have a high incidence of crime and where a vehicle pursuit is more likely to occur,” a release from DPD says.
DPD partnered with city’s risk management department to secure funding for a significant number of the devices for patrol cars.
“We launched the pilot on Monday and we’ve already had two successful deployments,” Thomas said. “The is really born out of our desire to keep the community safe.”