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GPS tracking being used to chase down criminals in Livingston County

Local News

Dangerous police chases may be a thing of the past with new technology to help catch a criminal.

It is a device on the front of the vehicle that shoots out a GPS tracker that sticks to the vehicle in pursuit. What sounds like something out of a James Bond movie is now a reality for the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office. 

The technology is the first of its kind in New York State. The closest municipality that uses it is in Milwaukee. 

The puck-like device is tracked with GPS to let the technology do the chasing and reduce the risk of collateral damage.

“Pursuits can be high cost of life,” said Livingston County Sheriff Thomas J. Dougherty. “And financially, for liability.” Dougherty says they always pursue anybody at anytime.

“Prior to this, you’d have a pursuit being called out by a deputy saying ‘I’m going left on Bronson, I’m going right on 5 & 20’ and the dispatchers are taking information. Now its flipped,” said Dougherty.

Once the device is attached, its signal is sent to the dispatcher and the deputy can back off. This will often cue the person being chased to slow their speed and follow the rules of the road. That takes many out of harms way.

The training has allowed drivers to get good aim at the car in pursuit, and it is now second nature to launch the puck. A small green lazer is used to aim the tracker gun and can be adjusted up or down based on the size of the car.

Now the chase really begins, and Amanda Schultz will be holding the steering wheel. “It’s fascinating to know that we can actually track these ‘bad guys’ in real time,” said Schultz.

She lets all the officers in the area know the criminals every movement. It used to be the other way around. Now she can keep everyone much more safe rather than being reactive to where the depute says and does. “The men and women out on the road are my family too so it makes me feel safer for them and being able to help them,” said Schultz.

Each piece runs about $5,000. The Sheriff’s Office was able to save money on vehicles, enough to buy several units for their deputes. Dougherty believes that if the criminals know there is a GPS tracker gun on the police car in pursuit, there is a greater likelihood that any driver being pulled over will be much less likely to drive away.

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