The law enforcement industry is just one example of an organization that has embraced GPS technology because it has made their jobs easier, safer, and more productive. All these elements add up to costs savings in nearly every area of law enforcement. GPS tracking systems help police officers not only know where the good guys are, it helps them to know where the bad guys are.
Tracking devices give paramedics, fire response teams, and police officers the ability to rapidly respond to calls in cities across the nation, and many are discovering that GPS tracking devices have other valuable applications for law enforcement. By using GPS devices in a variety of situations, law enforcement personnel are finding substantial benefits in not only capturing criminals but in preventing criminal activity.
GPS and Police Cars
Getting there quickly is a priority when fighting crime, so police response time is critical when emergencies are reported. GPS for law enforcement gives real-time information that allows numerous units in the field to coordinate their efforts, getting them to crime scenes faster and safer.
Remote management allows alerts to be activated, and all vehicle locations can be monitored from police headquarters, dispatch centers, or mobile devices on the field. GPS capabilities assist police personnel in a variety of ways, including:
- Pinpointing which police car is nearest to the identified crime location
- Alerting all officers within a specific perimeter that a crime has been reported
- Providing the quickest and most efficient route options based on traffic, weather, and road condition updates
- Making strategic decisions quickly by providing real-time updates during pursuits
GPS and Bait Cars
Let the criminals come to you. Bait cars, also known as hot cars, are vehicles employed by police districts to apprehend car thieves in the act or those who are stealing items from the car. The United States acknowledges sting operations as a viable means of crime prevention, and a bait car sting is designed to target auto thieves.
Typically, bait cars are nondescript automobiles rigged with real-time GPS tracking devices and other features which are strategically set up to look abandoned, broken-down, or in some cases, still running. The best bait are those vehicles that have already been identified as attractive to thieves.
Interestingly, crime analysis reports determine that Hondas, Toyotas, and trucks are the vehicles most likely to be stolen. These bait cars are left in higher risk neighborhoods or in areas that have been plagued with car thefts. When the car is tampered with or driven off by a thief, the GPS tracking device alerts the police command complex, which immediately starts to monitor the vehicle and alert patrols of any activity or movement.
The responding dispatcher provides police units with the description of the car, the direction the vehicle is traveling, and the speed. An important goal of bait car stings is to reduce the likelihood of a high-speed chase occurring, which increases safety for the suspect, bystanders, and officers. When police officers stop the car and locate it using GPS coordinates, they do so on their own terms.
Should the suspect attempt to flee, the dispatcher can remotely shut the car off, causing it to come to a gradual stop. The car doors can also be locked remotely, keeping the suspect confined if necessary. Bait car stings deliver several advantages to law enforcement agencies:
- Police officers can maintain their regular duties and patrols rather than stake out a potential robbery for hours or days at a time
- Thieves steal vehicles that are owned by the city, rather than those owned by citizens
- Attainment of exceptionally high conviction rates because the evidence provided by bait car sting operations using GPS tracking devices and in-car cameras is virtually indisputable
- Bait cars have also proved valuable in sting operations targeting criminals involved in stripping down abandoned cars
GPS for Law Enforcement – Bike Bait, Computer Bait, and more
GPS is being used on campuses across the nation to track down bike thieves and locate many types of commonly stolen property. Professional bike thieves are hard to capture because they often pull up in a van, grab a bike, and are off before anyone notices.
Bait bikes, like bait cars, are fitted with a tracking device. A great advantage of using GPS tracking for law enforcement is that it allows the police to know when crimes are occurring in clusters. They also serve as a deterrent to potential thieves, due to word of mouth warnings. GPS tracking devices have been placed on computers, tools, purses, and many other items that are commonly targeted by thieves, substantially increasing arrests and item recovery.
Many auto thieves are serving time because they had the misfortune of driving away in a bait car. Using GPS, municipalities can decisively protect their citizens' property and deter would-be criminals.