Dept. To Equip Patrol Cars With Cannons That Shoot GPS Projectiles

In whats being heralded as a high-tech way to more safely deal with high speed pursuits, the Milwaukee Police Department announced this week that it will be equipping patrol cars with a device that shoots GPS projectiles.

The technology propels a tracking device that looks like a large shot-gun shell – with adhesive on it – which can attach to the back of a moving vehicle and send location data to police in real time.

The department will not be the first to use the tracking deployment systems – there are currently about two dozen other departments using them around the country – but privacy advocates say the devices raise questions about Fourth Amendment protections.

The American Civil Liberties Union has weighed in on the issue and said “any uses of GPS tracking technology outside the heat of a chase should require a warrant.”

The organization says the launchers should not pose a problem if:

  • The device is used only in police chases that commence when a police officer has the equivalent of probable cause of wrongdoing (even if just fleeing a temporary detention like a traffic stop) and do not have time to get a warrant.
  • The device is removed and the location tracking ends the first time the police catch up to the person they are chasing.
  • The police catch up to the suspect as soon as they can (in other words, no letting them wander around for extended periods of time without pursuing them, in order to learn things about them).

Police are touting the successes other departments are having with the systems.

The Austin Police Department, which started using the devices in 2013, report that the technology has been utilized in 36 pursuits – all of which resulted in no injuries for anyone involved and successful apprehension of the suspect, reports NBC News.

The launchers are being manufactured by the company StarChase and cost taxpayers $5,000 each. Additionally, each round costs about $500.

The Virginia Beach company describes itself as a “pursuit-management technology company” and says that over 55,000 injuries occur each year due to high-speed pursuits.

“What keeps us going is unfortunately the tragedies that happen every single day,” StarChase Founder and CEO Trevor Fischbach said. “Even the victims that do survive are generally affected as a result of the accident.”

Demonstration of the technology:

The move to use the technology in Milwaukee comes on the back of sustained vitriol from officers regarding a policy change by police chief Edward Flynn that restricted chases to suspected violent felons and people who present “a clear and imminent threat to the safety of others.”

The change followed public outcry after four people were killed by drivers fleeing police between Dec. 31, 2009, and March 1, 2010 but officers say the new policy has created an atmosphere conducive for car thieves who now know that cops cannot give chase.

As a result, police say, auto thefts in the city increased 52 precent from 4,385 in 2013 to 6,657 in 2014.

“The crooks understand that this is our process [now.]” Milwaukee police union president Michael Crivello said. “Criminals know their car is almost like their safe locker. They can keep drugs and guns in their safe locker.”

One way to look at the rise of GPS launchers may be in the vein of the efficiency of the market. Governments traditionally use market innovations to suppress, surveil, and kill people – but if these devices can be utilized in a manner that has been seen in other departments, perhaps, over time they could lead to substantially fewer people being injured or killed during police chases.

A USA Today report recently found that “more than 5,000 bystanders and passengers have been killed in police car chases since 1979 – with tens of thousands more being injured as officers repeatedly pursued drivers at high speeds and in hazardous conditions, often for minor infractions.”

Obviously lowering these numbers would be a laudable goal, but at what cost? I refer not only to the financial costs associated with purchasing and maintaining the devices that taxpayers will be on the hook for, but at what cost to liberty?

Can police really be trusted not to utilize these devices in ways they aren’t supposed to? – and will they be held accountable if they do?

The answers most certainly to these questions are no, but as any good economics student knows, there are neither “good” policies nor “bad” policies – there are only trade offs. So what is your cost-benefit analysis of GPS tracking device launchers? I’m interested to hear your thoughts in the comments section.


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  • DeadPigGoodPig

    Looks like it’s time for me to start releasing my mobile EMP units. They are very easy to use. When being pursued by the police, one of these units deploy from the bottom of your bumper and pulse the next car that travels within 5 feet of it. This causes all electrical circuitry to become over volted, and the ignition system simply quits working on the nearest police cars. Or other cars, the EMP doesn’t care.

  • CopApologistsSuck

    Well now we have another way for cop’s to kill people

  • mobooz

    Nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh, Bat-Maaaan!

    Why would the government use these to track you when it’s much easier to get a warrant for your Facebook account?

  • Never Trust The Police

    Cop’s are like little spoiled children when they get sick of their current toy’s they want new toy’s as long as their new toy’s kill people like their current toy’s

  • Never Trust The Police

    Only thing is batman doesn’t kill criminals

  • Cliff

    Um…wouldn’t an EMP pulse also have an effect on your vehicle as well? Unless you’re driving a military vehicle that shielded from EMP, it’s bound to have some sort of effect on your own vehicle.

  • Cliff

    Not gonna lie, that is actually pretty awesome. Maybe next they’ll add machines guns and flamethrowers and turn in to road warriors.

  • DeadPigGoodPig

    The power of an EMP dictates its effective target distance.

  • mobooz
  • mobooz

    ROFL You’ll never have one, but at work I’ve seen some really interesting projects related to this kind of stuff. Like laws that establish bathroom gender norms with no penalty for false accusations, these things could be used to hilarious effect with friends and enemies alike.

  • DeadPigGoodPig

    I wait until they can use that type of technology to tap the ionosphere. Lasers are fun to play with. I spent tens of thousands of dollars on lasers and neodymium magnets, and all the equipment to measure it. Supercapacitors will be the key to mobile EMP units. Unless someone can figure out how to control a micro nuclear implosion.

  • keepitreal

    A combination mine / portable EMP generator. You should license that shit to defense contractors. You’d probably make a buck or 2.

  • Shawn

    I don’t see any issue here, so long as it is kept to its stated purpose, pursuit. Just don’t let mission creep change the mission.

  • simpleton

    You are familiar with the term “abuse of power” correct? This is well intentioned idea that will be abused and become a disaster with lawsuit written all over it. I believe mission creep is exactly what will happen.

  • Yomammaaho

    WTF is wrong with the taxpayers allowing this kind of expense?
    Reduce the massive budgets for some of these police departments…..prisons…..and courts, and put just a fraction of that money into industrial parks with subsidized tax rates and we have the CURE- EMPLOYMENT.

  • Common Sense

    Yeah, actually he has…..sorry

  • Shmuck

    Dunkin’ donuts trucks beware !

  • Shmuck

    I’m one step ahead of you. I have a device that deploys cheesesteaks , deep fried mushrooms , and super big gulps. Sure to stop any officer and their pursuits.

  • Swede760

    Now if used properly I have no problem with it except for the expense.

  • DeadPigGoodPig

    HAHAHA….You win the comment section.

  • DeadPigGoodPig

    Can’t patent it without the government taking it. I have a few patents, I understand the process when it comes to technology of this sort.

    “Whenever publication or disclosure by the grant of a patent on an invention in which the Government has a property interest might, in the opinion of the head of the interested Government agency, be detrimental to the national security, the Commissioner upon being so notified shall order that the invention be kept secret and shall withhold the grant of a patent therefor under the conditions set forth hereinafter.”

  • DeadPigGoodPig

    If I try and patent it, I can be placed under gag order to not describe the technology to anybody else. If I don’t try and patent it, they’ll have a lot harder time stopping the information from coming out.

  • DeadPigGoodPig

    Have you ever seen mission not creep?

  • JC

    I have read a lot of articles about this device. I think it is a great idea. Hopefully it provides a valuable tool for catching car thieves etc….

  • JC

    With new vehicles, it would lock up the steering wheel and the driver would lose control of the vehicle.

  • mobooz

    Put that on top of a baseball cap and you’ve got yourself a customer!

  • JeromeMac

    Along as cops obey the #Constitution, this is a great device. I am from Milwaukee, so this interests me a bit more than maybe the average person. The only question is the cost.

  • simpleton


  • charlottecountyflcopwatch2


  • Crazytrain

    It’s an option that allows officers to call of vehicle pursuits without losing all hope of catching the suspect that care so little about anyone else’s lives that they would lead police on a high speed pursuit.

  • Geoff Breedwell

    I approve this. You know why?

  • iamlegion

    $500 a shot? Jesus, just throw Iphones at them with the tracking turned on…

  • DIE_BankofAmerica_PHUKKING_DIE

    Car chases would be way ballsier if the cop cars mounted Gatling guns and just blasted away at the suspects.