MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - School buses have them, so do government issued cars, but Memphis police don't. Law enforcement agencies across the U.S. are installing GPS trackers into their squad cars and many say it's time that Memphis does the same.
On Tuesday a police officer was carjacked and his car was found nearly three hours later torched at the end of a dead end street, the suspect was long gone. Trackers could have enabled police to find the car sooner.
Just south of Memphis in Southaven, Mississippi, police are beginning to integrate the costly GPS systems to their squad cars; right now three quarters of the cars are equipped with the tracking.
Southaven Chief Tom Long says it's an invaluable tool that will benefit agencies across the country, "I think we're all working toward it." Because of the expense, Southaven PD is working one car at a time, phasing old ones out and adding the current communications and computer gear, including GPS. "Most modern police cars, the unit itself is about $20,000-$22,000 and the new equipment adds another $20,000 to it," Long says.
That's why the Shelby County Commission turned down the add-ons a few years ago. SCSO deputies do not have GPS tracking in their cars, neither do Memphis police officers.
Memphis Police Association President, Mike Williams, says he would like to see the cars updated, "I think MPD is behind in a lot of technology as far as their cars go."
Williams says most departments use dash cameras and GPS tracking, MPD doesn't have either. "Am I for modernizing cars so big brother can keep an eye on police and use it negatively toward the police? No. However, am I for technology that's going to help the citizens, help the police in doing their job? Yes I am."
Long says the equipment is worth the cost. "It's a safety issue for the officers, so we think it's very important. It also helps on the dispatch seeing what car's closest, without them having to judge."