I-TEAM: New device helps police track down carjackers without chasing them


CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-TEAM has found a new spotlight on a device that helps police track down carjackers and other bad guys without chasing them.

In fact, we’ve learned of a push to take a hard look at in Northeast Ohio. The I-TEAM got a look at how it works with video from the Franklin County Sheriff in a case with an arrest.

That video shows a deputy going after a driver. But, he shoots a tracking device onto the vehicle. That tells him where to go to find the suspect so that he does not have to get into a chase.

The Franklin County Sheriff and others around the country are using the StarChase technology.

Video from StarChase shows a tracker shot from a cruiser. The device allows a car to get away, at first, but it can’t disappear. A spokesperson for Star Chase wrote, “Our solution stands out because it allows law enforcement to remove the danger from the situation with a new tactic that reduces the force needed to arrest a suspect.”

This has attracted the attention of Cleveland City Council members. Councilman Kevin Conwell says a committee will hold a hearing on the equipment.

Conwell said, “We have to turn every rock over everywhere.”

He added, “So, then we can understand it better, too. Find out the pros and cons from Franklin, so we can  then make sure it’s a good fit.”

This comes with a growing demand for Cleveland Police to simply allow criminal suspects to drive off. We’ve shown you, Cleveland officers are often ordered not to chase suspects.

Even this week, Cleveland officers were not allowed to go after a car taken from a retired officer who’d been carjacked in Maple Heights.

Radio traffic shows an officer calling out, “I’m behind the agg rob Civic. We have permission to pursue?”

A supervisor responds with, “No, not at this time. I don’t have any information on it.”

Not pursuing suspects often leaves victims furious.

A victim of a carjacking in Tremont told the I-TEAM, Thursday, “Anger. Frustration. When you feel like you’re the one who needs help, and now they can’t do it.”

He added, “Everyone deserves, I feel like, the utmost effort from law enforcement.”

The company behind the tracker system says the cost to install the equipment in a patrol car comes to about 5,000 bucks a car.

Cleveland Police tell us they have looked at this before. They may look at it again.

The Ohio Highway Patrol tells us troopers also looked into this before, but they decided against buying it.

Meantime, Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia, a Cleveland Police spokesperson, emailed a comment about officers not being allowed to pursue the retired officer’s car after the carjacking. She wrote, “The call-off was due to the time of day, rate of speed, people in the area. Investigators were able to arrest the driver and recover the stolen car via other investigative strategies.

“Chasing is not always the right answer.”

Now, talk of another option. And, success in one part of Ohio is sparking the question, ‘Why not here?’

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