"GPS Bullets" Allow Police to Shoot a Tracker Onto a Car

We've started getting a few calls asking us what we think of new GPS tracking devices that police can shoot at a car that they are pursuing from a launcher mounted to the front grille of their car. The device sticks to the car, allowing the police to track the location of the vehicle until they catch up with it. (See press stories here and here.)

I don't see any problem with this technology, assuming that it is used in the kind of way that everybody probably imagines it being used. In other words, that:

  • It 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).

Any other uses of GPS tracking technology outside the heat of a chase should require a warrant.

And on the other side of the equation, this has the potential to obviate the need for high-speed pursuits by police cars through cities and towns, which are very dangerous and kill hundreds each year, with a third or more of those fatalities being innocent bystanders.

As with all technologies, of course, its effects will be more complicated than many expect because suspects won't likely be passive but will change their behavior in response to the technology. I would imagine that quickly people being chased by the police would realize that they have no hope of escape unless they somehow get that device off their car, and will respond accordingly with whatever strategies they can create. On the other hand, fleeing police is generally a desperate and foolish thing to do, so perhaps the "target audience" for this technology won't be thinking very clearly. In any case, that's a practical concern; as a civil liberties matter I don't see any problem with this technology if used as expected.

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I see it as a freakin' disaster. They'll probably jump out of their car, carjack another passenger on the road and use that person as a HOSTAGE to get away from police.



I predict possible multiple disasters in the making.
Do you REALLY think that most people who refuse to stop for police are acting RATIONAL and that they're going to play the whole thing through, come to the "correct" or best decision in the matter and just start being a good boy or girl and stop for them?

Example of what one criminal did when he saw he was trapped with nowhere to go and nothing to do but hand himself over to police:

This is how the guys who robbed my bank while I was trying to cash a check responded to the officer's words of "Come out with your hands up. There's nowhere to go, the place is surrounded, come out and turn yourselves in."
The lead robber (the one who did most of the talking) told one of his other goons to "Get on the phone and tell those guys we got hostages."

How do you know that SOME drivers who feel trapped that way AREN'T going to abandon their vehicle at a light or wherever they can, carjack another vehicle and hold the driver hostage. And how will police know where the hell he went after he abandons his vehicle.
People might be thinking that's a one in a million chance but even if it IS, b/c I was held hostage at gunpoint - and you know most of these lawbreakers also have guns or knives - there's no way I can approve of even one other person being put through the hell of feeling like you're a gd bargaining chip and never was a human being.

I disagree with making a person feel trapped and that's why.


First police chases are NOT necessary unless there's nuclear or chemical weapons being pursued, this day in a age noone can escape the long arm of the law. Secondly, justifying this sort of behavior is completely intolerable no matter how many ways you turn it around to justify it. There are cause and effects in this world we live in, the more technology one side has, it can and will be used by the other side. You can't put the whole population in prison and expect "the machine" to keep running!

Meitrack GPS Tr...

This is a very good alternative to be able to track the vehicle the police are chasing, this way the lead patrol car does not have to be right on the suspect's rear bumper all the time, making the suspect want to step on the gas even more.


Sure. The police will follow the precinct-by-precinct rules, if they even bother to make rules in the first place. Someone I know hired off-duty cops to plant GPS on a coworker. They did. It wasn't for prosecution. It was for "protection." Good luck enforcing non-existent rules, when anyone will be able to install GPS on any vehicle, simply by being behind it. We are going to regard the good old days of cell-phone tracking, when someone had to at least communicate with phone companies for location data.

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