Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: The Boston Globe reports that the pending use of GPS tracking devices, slated to be installed in Boston police cruisers, has many officers worried that commanders will monitor their every move. Boston police administrators say the system gives dispatchers the ability to see where officers are, rather than wait for a radio response and supervisors insist the system will improve their response to emergencies. Using GPS, they say, accelerates their response to a call for a shooting or an armed robbery. “We’ll be moving forward as quickly as possible,” says former police commissioner Edward F. Davis. “There are an enormous amount of benefits. . . . This is clearly an important enhancement and should lead to further reductions in crime.” But some officers said they worry that under such a system they will have to explain their every move and possibly compromise their ability to court street sources. “No one likes it. Who wants to be followed all over the place?” said one officer who spoke anonymously because department rules forbid police from speaking to the media without authorization. “If I take my cruiser and I meet [reluctant witnesses] to talk, eventually they can follow me and say why were you in a back dark street for 45 minutes? It’s going to open up a can of worms that can’t be closed.” Meanwhile civil libertarians are relishing the rank and file's own backlash. "The irony of police objecting to GPS technology for privacy reasons is hard to miss in the aftermath of United States v. Jones," says Woodrow Hartzog. "But the officers’ concerns about privacy illustrate just how revealing GPS technology can be. Departments are going to have to confront the chilling effect this surveillance might have on police behavior."
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-- Errol Flynn
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-- Errol Flynn