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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Better ways to deal with car chases?

I've seen or heard enough police chases at this point in my life to have a few ideas about ways to change things. This is just one of them.

Some cities have apparently adopted a policy of following the target with a helicopter while ground units keep up on parallel streets. This is supposed to keep things from getting out of hand since the suspect has no added reason to drive unreasonably. When things are clear, they close in and wrap it up.

The only reason this works is that the chopper provides the "eye in the sky" which keeps the target from getting away. Trouble is, a lot of metro areas don't have helicopters up and available at a moment's notice. Also, with budget cutbacks and other woes of modern times, some places with helicopters leave them grounded some days to save money.

What you need is a way to track the car without necessarily having a helicopter available. The answer seems obvious to me: magnets! Well, magnets and a strong radio transmitter. All you have to do is get close enough to lob one at the car and let it stick on. Then you can back off.

At that point it seems like one of two things would happen. One is that they keep driving. They won't be able to get away since the transmitter will give away their location, direction and speed at all times.

The other possibility I can think of is that they realize what has happened and hop out to pull it off. If that happens, then you just grab them and arrest them. Bonus points for using a taser or a dog to "deal with the situation".

It's clear that police cars would need to be outfitted with the direction-finding stuff to make this work. The good news is that many of them already are. There are dollar bills with embedded transmitters which go off when removed from a cash register or safe. This would be a logical extension of what is already in use.

Then again, perhaps this already exists. Wait and see, I guess.