Police Catch Suspect After Firing GPS Dart From Cruiser


About a year ago, a sheriff’s office in Ohio purchased some GPS darts, which look like something out of a James Bond movie. Attached to the front of a cruiser’s grille, a dart is fired onto the rear of a car the cruiser is pursuing, allowing police to track the car from distance. On Monday, for the first time, a Lucas County sheriff deputy used one.


The company that makes the darts, called StarChase, markets them as safer than traditional pursuits, since suspects tend to slow down if they don’t think they are being followed. The darts also allow for better planning, giving police time to organize a response ahead of the suspect as opposed to simply following behind.

Lucas County Sheriff’s Office Captain Matt Lettke told WTOL that Monday’s use was the “perfect case scenario” for the darts.

From WTOL:

The Sheriff said one of his deputies caught [the suspect, John Bartlett] dumpster diving and asked him to leave. But rather than leave, he pulled out a gun, got in his car and began to drive off.

That deputy who confronted Bartlett was able to deploy a dart from the Star Chase System from the front of his cruiser. That dart stuck to Bartlett’s car which allowed the deputy and dispatchers to track the suspect with GPS, rather then a high speed pursuit.

“They were able to track him with GPS and other jurisdictions got involved and they knew his location and speed and were able to get in front of him and get stop sticks out and stop him,” said [Lettke].

The darts do raise some interesting Fourth-Amendment questions, like: Is having a GPS dart on your car constitutionally unreasonable search? No, an analyst with the ACLU said in 2014, as long as police don’t misuse it, which police would never do...right?

Here’s a video from StarChase showing the darts in action:

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.


The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I can understand there is room for potential abuse, but doesn’t a vehicular pursuit usually occur with fairly strong probably cause? A suspect fleeing police in a motor vehicle can be very dangerous to other people on the road.

I could see raising a flag if this was being used in speed traps, for sure.