Special report: Nowhere to Run - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Special report: Nowhere to Run

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The StarChase device is mounted on the front of a cruiser (Source: StarChase) The StarChase device is mounted on the front of a cruiser (Source: StarChase)
The device is controlled from inside the cruiser (Source: StarChase) The device is controlled from inside the cruiser (Source: StarChase)
Billy Klewitz Billy Klewitz

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Could technology end the dangerous and too often deadly high speed police chases of criminals?  A new device that tags and tracks criminal's cars without having to chase them is now being used by law enforement in some states. 

This new technology could mean less danger to innocent people in the community, while making sure the bad guys have nowhere to run.

More than two and a half years later, the pain continues for two families, when a frightening 100 mile per hour police chase of a drug suspect ended with the horrifying death of two people.

"Nobody can understand what that Police chase cost me," said Bill Klewitz.

21-year-old Billy Klewitz, a gentle, well know musician was driving to pick up his sister from work when he was hit head on by the fleeing drug suspect, 32-year-old Bobby Jones.  Jones was also killed in the crash. 

To deal with her grief, Jones' mother opened a hot dog stand named in his memory.

"Any way that they can stop the chase, I think that's a wonderful idea," said Jones Mother, Delinda Bryant.

One new product trying to save lives, called 'StarChase,' is already being used by the Arizona State Police to stop the need for police chases. StarChase can plant a GPS tracking device on the suspect's car, allowing Poilce to back off any chase, and track the suspect by satellite.

StarChase mounts a compressed  air launcher in the grill of the police cruiser.  Using a laser to target the fleeing car, a GPS module is fired and attached to it.  Then dispatch follows the satellite coordinates, and Cops can back off without losing track.

The Georgia Chief's Association studied devices like StarChase, and found two drawbacks.  The police car has to be within about 40 feet of the suspect's car to be effective, and the cost-- about six thousand dollars per unit in Arizona.

Each GPS firing costs around $500.

 "When you start talking about equipping your entire patrol fleet with that type technology.  In a perfect world would I try it? Absolutely," said Dougherty County Police Chief Don Cheek.

Chief Cheek said the Police first mission is to protect life.  Bill Klewitz says he understands  that all Police Chases can not be avoided, but says the money for StarChase might be worth it.

"One chase, one life would be it. Any Mother and Father that had to go through what my wife and I have had to go through in the loss of Billy," Klewitz said.

Bryant said she hopes StarChase type technology will someday be standard for all law enforcement, hoping it can spare other families the grief she and the Klewitz family were left with because of a police chase. 

There are other new technologies being tried to stop fleeing vehicles, including a device fired from a Police Car under a suspect's car that would cripple it's electronic system and turn it off. 


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