Sheriff's Office reveals new details about Starchase darts

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office is releasing new details about a tool they implement during high speed chases.

The Starchase darts were purchased by the office last year and have been activated since October. Until last week, deputies kept the program quiet as part of a tactical advantage against potential suspects.

The darts were utilized during a chase that spanned four counties, and ended when law enforcement opened fire and killed Charles Johnston during the pursuit last week.

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"The thought is that once that device attaches, we back off from that chase, and then follow it on the map," said Lt. Lin Dehning with the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office.

The darts are designed to be fired from a law enforcement vehicle at close range. Once attached, they contain a GPS locator which allows deputies to track the suspect vehicle. Theoretically, the deputies would use that data to create a perimeter to stop the suspect.

"There's no pursuit that goes like textbook, no pursuit that's perfect," Dehning said. "It's all to reduce our risk in that chase."

The darts are manufactured by a company called Starchase, which works with law enforcement agencies across the country.

Sedgwick County has two of the devices, each of which cost approximately $5,000. The darts are not re-useable, but Dehning told KAKE News that Starchase replaces the darts after use at no charge.

Dehning did not say whether other agencies use the devices, but declined to offer training details for security reasons.

The county still utilizes other devices during high-speed chases, including spike strips and helicopters to assist in tracking and stopping chase suspects.

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