The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is turning to technology to curb the need for high-speed pursuits, putting to use darts shot from police cruisers to tag and track the location of fleeing cars.
As of Victoria Day weekend, the OPP began a pilot project that saw three of the force’s cruisers equipped with projectile launchers that fire darts that stick to a fleeing car and emit a GPS signal – dubbed Satellite Apprehension Response System, or STAR – so that the cops can keep track of the vehicle without engaging in a potentially dangerous pursuit.
STAR-equipped cruisers are fitted with a front bumper-mounted launcher that holds two darts and is activated from inside the car. The darts are laser-aimed to help them find their target, and have both adhesive and magnets to attach the dart to the car. Then the cops use the GPS signal to track and intercept the suspect’s vehicle.
While high-speed pursuit is a legitimate police tactic for catching lawbreakers of all stripes, the practice can put innocent civilians in danger, and it’s that risk these new dart launchers are meant to mitigate.
OPP Constable Kerry Schmidt told CTV News “drivers generally slow down if they believe police aren’t chasing them,” and the force hopes its use of STAR will help save lives.
The OPP isn’t the first force in Canada to use such a system; police in Delta, B.C. began using a similar STAR system in January of this year, installing the devices at a cost of $1,500 per car. The OPP didn’t specify the cost of its pilot project.