South Bend councilman, retired cop suggesting technology - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

South Bend councilman, retired cop suggesting technology for police dept

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It's on the wish list of a retired South Bend cop, who says it could protect his former co-workers. South Bend Common Councilman Derek Dieter just retired after 40 years on the force. Now, the councilman is asking the department to include some pricey technology in its budget for next year.

Councilman Derek Dieter has been in many a chase in his time on the force. One of the worst was in 1987. "I was involved in a crash where I was knocked out," says Dieter. "And everybody laughs now, but I was giving several locations of where I was...when I woke up...of where I was, wasn't even close to that."

Dieter says that is why he's suggesting the police department take a look at StarChase. "Kinda like James Bond, shoots a dart...goes into the car," says Dieter. That dart is a GPS tracker. StarChase says that allows the officer to back off and coordinate with dispatch.

Dieter says data show the suspect slows down when they don't think they're being followed. "After a chase, 75 percent of the suspects they've interviewed afterwards, after they don't see a police car, they just back off," he says.

The South Bend Police Department says it's been in contact with StarChase and is working to get a rep here, but the department will have big decisions to make when putting together the 2015 budget. "This is technology that addresses very high risk police procedures, so we have a tendency to take a good, hard look at those things," says Captain Phil Trent with the South Bend Police Department. "But just like running a house, just like running a business, there's some things that you'd really, really love to have and in the end, it comes down to your budget."

Trent says over the past five years, there has been an average of three pursuits a month. "Of those chases, many, many are a few blocks," says Trent "The people bail out, and it turns into a foot chase. Or it's low speed, low risk."

Still, the department says StarChase is technology they're interested in.

"The life of an innocent bystander, even the suspect or an officer, I think the expense of whatever you're talking about is worth it," says Dieter.

So, how much are we talking? Dieter says the technology is about $5,000 a car. With 160 squad cars at the department, that's about $800,000. Dieter says that's a rough estimate though because prices could change depending on how many systems the department buys.

Trent says there will be a discussion about what the department wants to direct their resources to. The Common Council ultimately approves the budget.

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