APD says new technology will track suspects in a pursuit


by SHANNON MURRAY / KVUE News and photojournalist DENNIS THOMAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @ShannonM_KVUE


Posted on February 14, 2013 at 7:11 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 14 at 7:25 PM

AUSTIN -- Austin police hope new technology will help them catch bad guys and keep you safe at the same time.

This February 14th, Ester Seoanes is remembering her husband, the musician and hospital worker she lost eight months ago.

"Today is Valentines Day," Seoanes said, holding back tears.

On June 15th, 32-year-old James Williford left work early and a suspect in a high speed pursuit ran a red light at the intersection of Ben White Blvd. and Pack Saddle Pass and struck him.

That day Miriam Stewart lost her only son.

"He was an exceptional son and I was very close to him," Stewart said."I think I walked through life in shock for a long time."

Austin police said Williford won't die in vain. In the honor of Williford and other victims, the department is rolling out new technology they hope will keep innocent bystanders out of harms way.

"You are not getting away," Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo warns criminals. "You're not getting away."

Now technology, similar to the GPS system you might use every day in your car, is what police are using to catch bad guys

The StarChase system is put on the front of an officer's vehicle. In a pursuit, a dart will shoot out of the device and stick to the suspect's car, giving police a live look at where the car is going through GPS tracking.

"That will afford our officers the chance to step away, to disengage and we will, from the real time crime center, be able to track the suspect," Acevedo explained. "When you deploy the system and officers back down, a majority of the times the suspect will slow down and the suspect is brought to justice without the violent crashes."

The pilot program is now in action. APD said if it proves successful they'll look for grants to put the $4,900 system in every patrol car.

StarChase said they will also talk with insurance companies to see if they can help with the cost.

Williford's family said they believe the new technology will save lives and save families from experiencing the pain they've had to endure for the past eight months.

"I think it would have been helpful at the time if they'd had it," Stewart said.

The family said they find peace in knowing that something positive can come of Williford's name.

Austin police said there were 135 pursuits in 2012. 22 of them ended in a crash, including the one fatality involving innocent bystander Williford.


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