The part at the end about the laser guided cannons is really cool as well as in the video

Police Seek Alternatives To High-Speed Chases

Andy Sheehan

(KDKA) PITTSBURGH Police call high-speed police chases a necessary evil.

They can put innocent people in danger.

But without them, criminals would have a license to do whatever they want.

But now police are coming up with alternatives.

KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan reports that when criminals run police usually chase and that puts everyone on the road in danger.

However, police say the alternative is even worse.

"Police chases are a necessary evil in our society," said Monroeville Police Chief George Polnar. "If someone knows they're not going to be pursued or followed, they'll steal a car and they'll be no consequences."

To Robert Rankin, the consequences couldn't be more tragic.

"She leaves two kids behind -- a boy and a girl," he said.

Rankin lost his sister Michelle in May when a driver fleeing police went through a Homewood intersection -- hitting her broadside, killing her and her passenger.

"It's just unnecessary," said Rankin.

Rankin, a city firefighter, is speaking for the first time since his sister's death -- calling for an end to police chases.

"We're including myself part of public safety, and you truly have to understand what that means -- it's public safety, and if that means we have to let someone go for the good of the public that's what we need to do to see another day," said Rankin.

And Rankin is not alone.

Some smaller cities have adopted no chase policies and some big cities, like Los Angeles, are moving in that direction -- believing that in many ways the dangers of chases outweigh the benefits.

In the past two decades in this country an average of 325 people have died each year as a result of high speed police chases -- a third of those people were innocent victims.

"Recognize that there may be innocent people injured," said Professor Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie Mellon University. "You might kill someone unintentionally."

Blumstein says, because of the dangers, chases should be a last resort -- on a par with an officer deciding to shoot someone.

He agrees that you can't ban chases all together but advises a policy of limited chases.

He adds that the policy should also be kept confidential -- so the possibility of a chase at any time remains a deterrent.

"You want to operate with great restraint just as you would when firing your weapon," said Blumstein. "But you never want to announce that you're not going to chase because that would mean a free license to steal."

And to limit the dangers police departments are exploring new technologies.

Some police cars have mounted laser-guided cannons.

It fires a projectile with a sticky end that can attach itself to a car.

Inside is a global positioning system that can let police trace the car wherever it goes.

It's just one idea to address a problem that defies easy solutions but Robert Rankin says need to be solutions before more innocent people die.

"There's got to be a better way to do this," Rankin said. "With as much money as we spend in different areas, when it comes to public safety, there's nothing more important that a life."