Sheriff looks to invest in tech for vehicle pursuits


Thurston County Sheriff’s Office is looking to invest in equipment and technology to mitigate vehicular pursuits, Sherriff Derek Sanders told the Board of County Commissioners during an update last week.

Initiative 2113, which the state legislature passed last month, restores the authority of law enforcement to engage in vehicular pursuits if an officer has reasonable suspicion that a person violated any law. Vehicular pursuits were only allowed for specific violations before the new law.

Sanders seeks to acquire the additional equipment to prepare the sheriff’s office for more vehicular chases before the new law takes effect on June 6.

“We usually have about anywhere from one to 10 cars a day that flee law enforcement, that all of a sudden, those vehicles may be pursued now,” Sanders said.


One of the purchases the sheriff is looking into is to acquire Flock Safety cameras.

Flock Safety is an automatic license plate recognition camera system that checks whether a car is linked to a criminal activity. If a match is found, the system promptly alerts law enforcement officers. 

Sanders added that they could input a plate number into the system, which would then try to locate the car using the cameras around the county.

The sheriff said that Flock Safety is offering 20 cameras for around $55,000 a year, including the device, installation, and replacement.

Sanders said they are already communicating with the county’s IT, legal, and public work departments to see where they can and cannot place these cameras. Regarding privacy, the sheriff mentioned that Flock Safety does not sell its data and only retains it for 30 days.

Anti-vehicle gear

Sanders is also looking to acquire Starchase and Grappler. Starchase is a vehicle-mounted launcher that shoots GPS trackers at fleeing vehicles.

The device costs $5,642 per device. Additional costs include an annual subscription of $1,500 per vehicle for web access and unlimited tracker darts, $702 for installation fees for the first four vehicles, and a one-time cost of $3,500 for operator and instructor certification.

The other equipment, Grappler, is a bumper system mounted to the car that launches a heavy-duty net that can forcibly stop a fleeing vehicle. The device allows for the immediate stop of a fleeing vehicle without needing the police to conduct a “precision immobilization technique,” which involves bumping the rear of a vehicle to forcibly reverse its direction and cause the driver to lose speed monetarily.

The system costs $7,000 per unit and $325 for each net, which can only be used once.

The board ran out of time to talk about the budgetary aspect of acquiring these investments, but Commissioner Carolina Meija said during the start of the discussion that the board has financial concerns regarding Sanders’ planned purchases.

Sanders said that county staff had not communicated with his office prior to the meeting about any financial constraints.


4 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • SheriB

    Please support our Law Enforcement personnel!

    Tuesday, April 2 Report this

  • bobkat

    Sheesh! God forbid that law enforcement should actually catch anybody!!!

    Wednesday, April 3 Report this

  • Callie

    I notice that these are measures that reduce the risks to other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians when there IS a fleeing vehicle. For sure I want the Flock system. My son's stolen car was spotted when it sped past police - better to find it this way.

    Wednesday, April 3 Report this

  • HotTractor

    These could be a win for both Sheriff personnel and the citizens of Thurston county. Vehicle pursuit is 2nd in police action when it comes to death and injury to both officers and civilians.

    Thursday, April 4 Report this