Police officers in Iowa are using cutting-edge technology to cut down on risky high-speed chases. Cruisers are being outfitted with high-powered cannons that shoot tracking devices at the cars of fleeing suspects.
The technology is straight out of a spy film. The front of their cruisers have been fitted with cannons designed to shoot small tracers at vehicles police are pursuing with just a press of a button. Troopers can than turn off the lights, break off pursuit and safely follow the trackers to the cars location.
"After they think the officer has disengaged, they back down to normal speeds to blend in with traffic so they don't get noticed again" Trooper Tim Sieleman told KCCI 8 News.
Such technology is long overdue. Pursuits are the most dangerous police tactic, according to PursuitSAFETY, a nonprofit organization that assists bystanders injured during police activity. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not require mandatory reporting of pursuit fatalities, but of the departments which do voluntarily report such deaths, statistics show at least one person a day is killed in police chases. Since some police departments don't report such deaths at all, or have stringent criteria for what counts as a pursuit-related death, the number of deaths is most likely higher. According to an FBI report, 1 out of ever 100 pursuits end with at least one fatality.
While saving bystanders and officers lives are priceless, the trackers are not. The cannons cost $5,000 dollars and each round cost $500. A small price to pay when 35 to 40 percent of high-speed police chases ends in a crash.