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2016 Innovision Awards Community Service – PursuitAlert

Innovision Awards Honors PursuitAlert

InnoVision’s  Community Service Award recognizes an organization for the development of new technology or for the innovative application of existing technology, to provide products, services, or processes that improve the quality of life in South Carolina communities.

This year Innovision honored Tim and Trish Morgan and company (PursuitAlert) with its coveted Community Service Award. PursuitAlert – a South Carolina (Upstate) based company is a patented state of the art mobile warning system to alert motorists and civilians of an immediate danger from a high-speed pursuit chase. This smartphone app is free to the public and covers a three-mile radius, of an active Police pursuit by a participating law enforcement agency. “As the pursuit progresses or concludes, PursuitAlert will notify the affected community members that the pursuit is now out of range and to continue with caution.”

The goal of PursuitAlert and its founders is to limit tragedies, devastation, and loss caused by deadly pursuits.

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Police chase app alert drivers nearby high speed pursuits

More than 5,000 bystanders and passengers have been killed and tens of thousands have been injured in police car chases over the past 35 years, research says.

Now a former sheriff has created PursuitAlert, which aims to help the public avoid police chases by alerting drivers within a three-mile radius.

The moment and officer begins to chase down a subject, they turn on a device in their cruiser and it will send an alert to the app.

Tim Morgan, former Pickens County Assistant Sheriff in South Carolina, and Trish Morgan worked on the technology with Pickens Innovation following the death of man killed during an incident, reports WYFF4.

Brent Winchester was traveling to work in 2008 when a car being chased by police lost control and spun into incoming traffic – Winchester was killed in the accident.

‘I was in law enforcement for 37 years and one of the most difficult incidents I had to deal with was the death of an innocent victim in a high-speed police pursuit,’ Morgan told ABC News WLOS.

After retiring from the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, Morgan started designing PursuitAlert.

Police officers simply flip the switch on the device and a push alter will be sent out to PursuitAlert app owners in the vicinity of the chase.

Another notification will be sent out the chase is no longer a threat such as ‘proceed with caution’.

‘We’re sending a notification out to all the sheriff’s in the nation that new technology is on the market,’ said Morgan.

The PursuitAlert technology will cost around $350 for each police car, but Morgan hopes the free app will be out in the next few months –as it is currently pending federal approval.

He also hopes one day the technology will be automatically installed in smartphones, similar to amber alert and weather alerts..

Bystanders and passengers in chased cars account for nearly half of all those killed in police pursuits from 1979 to 2013, reports USA Today.

‘A pursuit is probably the most unique and dangerous job law enforcement can do,’ said Tulsa Police Maj. Travis Yates, who runs a national pursuit-training academy.

The Justice Department referred to pursuits as ‘the most dangerous of all ordinary police activities in 1990 and emphasized the agencies needed to form different procedures when it came to chasing suspects.

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Officer creates app to end police chase deaths

A former sheriff’s deputy wants to put an end to police chase deaths with his new app.

The free app is called “PursuitAlert” and law enforcement officers would be able to alert the public of a nearby chase.

Pending federal approval, Tim Morgan said, you should be able to start using his app in about four months.

Jackie and Stacey Whitney flew up from Texas for the unveiling of his app in Pickens on Monday.

They lost their son Garrett less than two months ago to a deadly police pursuit outside Dallas, Texas.

“Right now, we are just still numb by it. We are just doing anything and everything we can to help make sure this doesn’t happen to another family,” Stacey Whitney said.

Whitney told News 13 she made a promise to her son at this funeral to help prevent another police chase tragedy.

“I made him a promise that momma would do something to make changes,” Stacey said.

So, her and Jackie got to work and came up with an idea.

“I was thinking, if there were some way he knew, beforehand, if it was coming it would be something that was useful,” Jackie said.

But, then Jackie found “PursuitAlert” and Morgan online.

“I was in law enforcement for 37 years and one of the most difficult incidents I had to deal with was the death of an innocent victim in a high-speed police pursuit,” Morgan said.

After retiring from the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, Morgan started designing pursuit alert.

According to Morgan, at the flip of a switch, officers could send out a push alert to smartphones within a set radius around a chase.

The app would then alert users to “proceed with caution,” Morgan said, if there’s no longer a threat from a chase.

“We’re sending a notification out to all the sheriff’s in the nation that new technology is on the market.”

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Local entrepreneurs unveil products at Pickens Innovation Center’s ‘Commercialization Day Launch’

The entrepreneurial spirit of Pickens County was on full display in downtown Pickens on Monday, with the launch of products ranging from a device that makes it easier to get the mail out of your mailbox through your car window to an alert system for high-speed police chases.

It was the Pickens Innovation Center’s Commercialization Day Launch, unveiling the products of more than a dozen local inventors and business owners under the center’s guiding influence.

“It’s an exciting time,” Pickens Mayor David Owens told a crowd of nearly 100 gathered in front of the center on Court Street for the event.

The Innovation Center’s goal is to connect creative people and their ideas with the means to make their dreams become reality – and to turn the city of Pickens and surrounding area into a hub of invention and entrepreneurism and promote economic diversification.

The new business owners are using local companies as much as possible to build their products.

Tim Morgan, former Pickens County assistant sheriff, was there with his wife, Trish, unveiling a device that allows law enforcement officers to send a message to smartphone apps that lets drivers know a high-speed chase is in progress in their vicinity.

The product, called PursuitAlert, attracted visits from the sheriffs of Greenville and Oconee counties, as well as a couple from Texas who lost their son when the driver of a stolen van who was being chased by police swerved into the oncoming lane and collided head-on with the 18-year-old.

“We believe if he’d had this app, he would be here today,” Jack Whitney said. “We just don’t want to see another family go through this.”

Entrepreneur Eric Varner was there with another device designed to save lives on the highway.

RyderSaver is a pole with a light atop it that attaches to the rear of a moped to make it more visible. Varner said he got the idea for the device by reading news stories about moped fatalities in which the drivers of cars said they couldn’t see the moped.

He’s working on a tracking device to go with the lighting system.

Andrew Hendricks, a recent Clemson University marketing graduate, was showing off an equally simple but ingenious device called Mailbox Retriever.

He invented it as a school project when he was in the third grade at Hagood Elementary and built it with help from his grandfather, George Roach.

It’s a hard, clear plastic sleeve that fits inside a mailbox and slides out easily to make it possible to get mail out of the box without having to reach deep inside it from your car window.

Roman Visser’s Pet to-Go system is another simple but potentially useful product for people traveling with their pets. It’s a cabinet that has a food and water bowl in the bottom drawer, and other drawers for storage of food, pet toys and other items.

It can be programmed to dispense food and water at a specified time and close up when the animal is finished with its meal.

Some of the vendors on hand were unveiling more traditional products but with a new twist.

For example, Ron Few’s business – called Twist – is selling antiques online.

Daniel Ross, of Lit Coffee, was marketing high-quality coffees from eight different countries. It operates as a nonprofit, donating 5 percent of its profits locally and globally.

The company started three months ago operating coffee carts in various sites across the Upstate and selling to local coffee shops.

While the cutting edge and the new were the dominant theme of the 13 businesses unveiled, Mark Burgess, owner of Burgess General Store at 710 Main St., Pickens, is bringing an old idea to the 21st century.

His great grandfather operated one of the first general stores in Pickens County, and he sees his new venture as a throwback to simpler times, with mostly local products for sale.

“The main goal is to kind of bring the past and the present together,” he said.

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Police ‘Pursuit Alert’ App Launches in Pickens

In January, a Texas couple’s world was rocked. Garrett Tolliver was just 18 when his parents say a stolen van in the midst of a police chase hit his truck outside Dallas, killing him.

“He never knew it was there until he topped the hill and it was too late,” explained father, Jackie Whitney.

Monday marked 59 days since his death.

“I did make a promise to my son in his casket that mama would do something to make a change,” said mother, Stacey Tolliver-Whitney.

Pushing through their pain, Stacey and Jackie researched police chase warning systems online. They came across the PursuitAlert app created by Tim and Trish Morgan 1000 miles away in Pickens.

“We took the plunge and flew all the way from Texas just because we believe so much in this,” said Stacey.

The app signals users driving in a 3-mile radius of a police chase. Monday marked the official app launch.

A signaling technology would be installed in police cars with participating agencies. When the officer begins a chase, they would flip the pursuit alert switch. It will send an alert to users who’ve downloaded the app that are within a three-mile radius of the chase.

“It needs to protect you not only when you’re in the Pickens County area, but when you’re on vacation driving to Florida or across country,” said Tim Morgan.

Monday, the sheriffs from Greenville, Pickens and Oconee Counties showed up to check out Tim Morgan’s invention. In the coming weeks, he said they will be emailing every sheriff’s office in the country, setting up partnerships. For less than a set of discount tires, Morgan said the push button console can be put in a police car. Morgan said the app is free and the benefits are priceless.

“Hopefully this will make a difference so we will not have to hear about it as much in the future,” said Morgan.

Morgan says they would like to have the technology automatically installed on your smart phones like amber alerts and weather alerts. For now, you must download the app in order to be protected.

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Former assistant sheriff goes into business with police pursuit warning system

During a 37-year career in law enforcement, Tim Morgan saw more than his share of high-speed police pursuits that ended badly.

It was one of the aspects of the job that bothered him the most, especially as a supervisor.

Morgan, who was assistant sheriff for Pickens County until 2012, had long had a nagging feeling that there must be a way to warn the public when a chase is on other than a blue light and a siren.

“We have warning systems for flood, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes. Yet more people are killed annually in pursuits than all four of those combined,” he said, citing statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

He’d had an idea bouncing around in his mind for several years on how that could be done, but he didn’t know how to go about turning it into a product.

Until he met with Mark Reid Davis, director the Pickens Innovation Center, a new entrepreneur resource center in Pickens.

With help from Davis, Morgan and his wife, Trish, have developed that idea into a working system that’s in the beta testing phase.

They plan to unveil it in March and have it on the market by summer.

“We think it’s a tremendous need and something that’s potentially life-saving,” Morgan said.

Market demand

It’s also something that could find a huge market.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says an average of one death a day can be attributed to police chases. The agency counts a total of 11,506 chase-related deaths since 1979.

But a USA TODAY review last September of police reports and internal documents, court records, police-car videos and news accounts based on police statements found that the NHTSA overlooked at least 101 such deaths in 2013 – understating the total by at least 31 percent.

The number of injuries is likely triple the number of fatalities from police chases, Morgan said.

There’s no requirement that law enforcement agencies report chases, he said, which makes calculating the total cost in lives and damages difficult.

You don’t have to look far to find pursuits that have ended in disaster.

A lieutenant with the North Greenville Fire Department was killed last September in a wrong-way crash involving a suspect who was running from deputies.

On Christmas night 2014, 22-year-old Taylor Miller of Simpsonville died when the car in which he was a passenger was hit by a Highway Patrol trooper who was in pursuit of another vehicle that had sped through a safety checkpoint on State 124 near Woodside Avenue.

In April 2014, a 70-year-old man in Travelers Rest was killed when an SUV driver hit speeds of at least 100 mph going through Travelers Rest as he was fleeing from police.

The state Department of Public Safety pursuit policy allows vehicle pursuits “only when the necessity of the apprehension of a suspect outweighs the risks created by the pursuit.” But sometimes that’s difficult to judge.

Morgan nearly lost his own life in a pursuit years ago.

He and another deputy were chasing suspects in a home break-in along a mountainous road when their patrol car ran off the road around a hairpin curve.

“Had it not landed exactly right between two trees, we would have gone another 150 feet down the embankment,” he said. “My arm is still crooked from the injuries of that.”

The financial costs of police pursuits are enormous as well, Morgan said.

“It’s in the billions, with property damage, financial payouts to survivors with lost wages, with disability, with hospitalization. It’s a huge payout,” he said.

It’s not a problem in the United States only.

Deaths in police pursuits have tripled in the United Kingdom over a four-year period, and it’s also a major issue in Japan, Malaysia and other countries, Morgan said.

So he’s expecting a worldwide market.

Based on research by patent attorneys and graduate students working with the Morgans, there’s no product like theirs on the market, Trish Morgan said.

Public safety focus

Concern for the public out on the highways when a pursuit is underway is what’s driving Morgan’s business plan.

“There’s no good pursuit, just like there’s no good war,” he said. “But you’re going to continue to have both.”

“It’s something that nobody really knows what to do with,” he said. “The pursuits are deadly, they’re bad. You continue to try to regulate them as best you can but you can’t outlaw them.

“This is hopefully a way to better manage them and notify the public.”

A big part of the challenge is the unpredictability of a police chase.

“They’re unpredictable, they’re fast and they’re deadly. So you just have to monitor them as close as you can,” Morgan said.

But the system the Morgans have come up with – details of which are being kept under wraps until March – promises to solve that problem.

The idea involved using five different pieces of existing technology to create a system that would be free for the public to use, said Davis, who is helping with the product development.

The product the Morgans have developed unifies these tools and makes their use seemless, “and it saves lives,” Davis said. “That’s the beauty of what the two of them have done.”

Business background

Although he worked for the Sheriff’s Office for most of his career, Morgan started out in business management at Milliken after earning a business degree at Erskine College.

“It was a good organization, it just wasn’t fulfilling,” he said.

So after a year, he left for the Sheriff’s Office, starting out as a deputy. He took a cut in pay to do it, but said he felt a calling.

“It just felt like something I wanted to do or needed to do,” he said.

He left the Sheriff’s Office after an unsuccessful run for sheriff in 2012, when his longtime boss, C. David Stone, retired.

Since then, he’s been working for Blue Ridge Security, which he says has been “very supportive” of his entrepreneurial venture.

Davis believes Morgan’s background as a pilot helped in his ability to envision his product. Morgan has been flying since the 1970’s, often transporting prisoners who have been extradited.

“He sees everything in a dashboard. All the complexities of the aircraft are right in front of him as a pilot,” Davis said. “That’s what he’s done with his business. He’s set up a business where all of the components are right in front of him.

“So he’s piloting this business as he’s piloted aircraft. It doesn’t matter how dangerous something is behind you, like a prisoner or whatever. He still has control of the aircraft. And I see him doing the same thing with his business.”

His wife, Trish, who has been actively involved in the development of the product, also has a background in business.

She owns a store in Easley called Home Decorators Warehouse. Before that she worked in sales at the Reserve at Lake Keowee and also has been in pharmaceutical sales.

“I’ve been involved since the beginning with our team,” she said. “And going forward, I’ll be out selling the product.”

“Actually going forward, Trish will most likely be running the show,” her husband said.

The couple has a provisional patent on the product and is doing beta testing this month. Testing will be expanded in February and the product unveiling is set for March 7.

They’ve developed a week-by-week strategic plan through 2017 that calls for them to set up a storefront in Pickens this November.

The Morgans credit Davis and the Pickens Innovation Center with bringing their idea to life.

“We wouldn’t be here had it not been for the center,” Tim Morgan said. “Because this is something we’ve bounced around and talked about with different people for the past five or six years and it just never got traction because the people didn’t have the connections.”

They hope to use a local company on a contract basis to manufacture the product, in keeping with the center’s goal of fostering synergy between local entrepreneurs and existing businesses.

“This is not a cure-all,” Tim Morgan said of the police pursuit warning system. “Hopefully it will prevent some injures.

“If it saves some lives, that’s the good part about it,” his wife said.

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WSPA.com: Police chase warning tech created by Upstate man

 

A life-saving technology created by a former Upstate law enforcement officer could soon be hitting the market. It’s aimed at warning people when a high-speed police pursuit is happening close by.

High-speed chases are unpredictable at best. Too often they are deadly, killing innocent bystanders caught in the cross hairs, according to Tim Morgan.

“When you’ve seen that, not only the devastation at the scene but the devastation at the home, it lasts forever,” said Morgan.

In his 37 years in law enforcement, 22 years as Pickens County Assistant Sheriff, Morgan lost sleep over a better way to prevent deaths during chases.

“We have warning systems for tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and lightning, but more people are killed in high-speed pursuits each year then all four of those combined,” said Morgan.

He and wife Trish got to work developing a device plan and teaming up with the Pickens Innovation Center last year. There are many aspects of this project that are still under wraps. They are planning for a March unveiling, but the bottom line is this is life-saving technology that will alert people close to police pursuits and stop them in their tracks.

“It will be simple notification,” said Pickens Innovation Center Director, Mark Reid Davis. “It arrives to community members within a radius of the pursuit and changes their thinking.”

Statistics show there’s a death every day in the US stemming from the 50,000 police pursuits each year.

It hit close to home in September when a North Greenville Fire Lieutenant died in a wrong-way crash. He was hit by a suspect in a police pursuit.

“It’s not going to be a cure-all, but it’s something that will warn the public with the goal of saving lives,” said Morgan about his device.

The Morgan’s hope to start selling their product this summer with the goal of using local manufacturers. They hope make a positive economic impact on Pickens County, as well.