I hear the best stuff in the most unlikely places. Last week, I was fighting off a heavy case of the Zs at the back of a room in City Hall, waiting for the item I was interested in to come up. Meanwhile, a bunch of police and fire officials were addressing the city's "Productivity Commission" on their job safety programs. Zzzzzzzz. And anyway, how do you do job safety for cops and firemen? Tell them to stay in bed?
But one of the commissioners, Judd Bradbury, who is very tech-savvy, had asked them what they knew about new technologies to make high-speed chases safer. Deputy Chief Floyd Simpson, who's over personnel, began unwinding this amazing description of James Bond-type gizmos that are either on the market now or in development. One that Simpson described, called Starchase, is a plum-sized glue glob with a GPS tracking device inside. They fire it at your car at about the velocity of a paintball; it sticks and starts broadcasting your car's location, so they don't have to chase that hard. As it turns out, the Los Angeles P.D. is already trying this thing out. The manufacturer signed a beta test agreement with LAPD last March.
I called Simpson later and asked if they couldn't use that one on pedestrians. You know--they run too. Stick a glob on thguy's back, go get a hamburger. When he calms down, pick him up. Simpson laughed. I think was a nice no-comment.
Simpson talked to me about another device he had mentioned at the meeting. "We also spoke of another piece of technology that pretty much resembles a remote control car, if you will." I looked that one up. It's actually a kind of rocket carried under the front bumper of a cop car. It's called the "Road Patriot." There's a pretty good description of it at here.
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They shoot this sucker out at a speed 20 miles faster than however fast the police car's going. The rocket can shoot ahead up to seven car lengths. It emits some kind of electrical kaboom that disables all the internal electronic system of the fleeing car. The thing I read doesn't say if all of the people in the fleeing car come out of it later with their hands up and their hair too. I trust the police would never use that one on pedestrians, except maybe in Deep Ellum. That's Deep Ellum rules. Naybe they could let off steam by shooting it at bicyclists every once in a while. That would be a very serious civil rights violation but one hell of a video. --Jim Schutze