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Creators of new app hope police departments will get on board

Posted at 7:36 PM, Aug 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-28 20:36:25-04

A father's plea for change, after losing his son, is now strengthened by new technology on the market.

A safety app was just created with the hope of saving more innocent people from becoming victims in high-speed police chases.

Paul Farris, 23, of Wisconsin died when the taxi he was in was hit during a high-speed chase in Massachusetts. A state trooper was pursuing a driver for a traffic violation. Farris was an innocent victim caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Paul was wearing his seat belt and was ripped from the taxi," said his father, John Farris. "I received the phone call around 1:30 that morning."

In the 12 years since losing his son, John has made it his mission to get stricter police pursuit policies in place. He created the national advocacy group "Pursuit for Change" to stop police chases for things such as reckless driving and stolen cars.

"A car doesn't have that much value, but the people driving it, and everyone around — who is in danger as soon as that pursuit starts — is who we should be thinking about it," he said. "It's people and life that are precious."

He said he's reached out to Milwaukee's mayor, police chief and Fire and Police Commission, but has not heard back.

Retired law enforcement officer Tim Morgan is also trying to get in touch with Milwaukee Police about the new app he helped create called "Pursuit Alert."

"It's people and life that are precious." — John Farris, who lost his son in a high-speed chase

"There's no doubt in my mind, this will save lives," Morgan said.

When initiating a chase, an officer flips a switch in his car, and within two to four seconds an audible tone and voice alert goes out to anyone within 2 miles of the chase. Another alert is sent every half-mile the chase moves and when a person is out of the potential danger zone.

"A chase is the single event where law enforcement endangers the public the most by simply just doing their job," Morgan said. "There are criminals in society that you can't tell that you'll never chase again, because crime will go up. They will take advantage of that. So we have to mitigate the risks of chasing the best that we can. This app is a way to do that."

But, the technology comes with a cost of about $500 per squad car, and you'd have to make sure the public downloads the free app.

"Part of the problem is that law enforcement agencies and municipalities don't have money," Farris said. "Budgets are tight. But part of what 'Pursuit for Change' does is get more funding released by the federal government under some of the grants that exist."

So far, two sheriff's departments down South are using this technology.

MPD sent us this statement:

"The Milwaukee Police Department is currently researching an array of technologies, to include Pursuit Alert, which may act as a force multiplier to enhance the safety of our officers and the citizens we serve."