Police Don’t Need a Warrant to Use GPS In Some Cases

4395757351_fd19d12e9cImagine a world where everything you’ve learned from crime novels about interrogating a suspect is no longer true. No bright lights, no trick questions, no “good cop and bad cop.” What if all of those things disappeared to make way for a GPS tracker that can provide police with all the details needed?

That’s the kind of GPS program that’s being tested out in Palm Beach, Florida, right now thanks to an emerging branch of investigation called GPS forensics.

What Is It?

All police need is a GPS tracker to find out exactly where a suspect has been at what time – making it simpler to find the truth. The Palm Beach department isn’t telling press a lot about the new GPS tracker program, but that’s understandable – it would be unwise for criminals to know all of the tricks!

From The Forest To The Streets

One officer, beginning his career as a fish and game warden, switched over to the Palm Beach Police force after realizing the benefits GPS trackers provided police. When working as a game warden, he spent a lot of time wandering the woods, marking the best fishing spots on a handheld GPS tracker to pass the time.

The more he used it, the more he realized the data collected by the device would really be useful to law enforcement.

So he taught himself how to extract certain information from GPS trackers, brought it to the police department, and has been hard at work ever since. The majority of his work focuses on GPS trackers in boats (he is in Palm Beach, after all), with busts ranging from watercraft crashes to human smuggling.

GPS In Action

An example of GPS forensics at work: FBI agents discovered 33 people aboard a 40-foot fishing boat, 25 miles off the coast of Boynton Beach. The woman who owned the boat told the FBI she was returning from a trip to the Bahamas when she came across a ship that was sinking, offering a ride to the 31 stranded people she allegedly came across.

But when sifting through the GPS location data, it was discovered she was lying through her teeth. The boat did not travel the course she had stated. She and the captain had smuggled the 31 people from the Bahamas to the tune of $5,000 per person. Seven of the 31 had actually been deported from the U.S. previously!

But, what about the legal part? Aren’t GPS trackers illegal without a warrant?

The Legal Bits

Here’s the loophole: police departments can legally track suspects if that person has a personal GPS tracker. From there, police can simply track that person using the GPS tracking data – works like a charm!

How can a GPS tracker help you? Contact us, we can set you up with the perfect solution!


Photo by aldenjewell via Flickr Creative Commons

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