TRACKING SUSPECTS WITH G.P.S.: “Across the country, police are using GPS devices to snare thieves, drug dealers, sexual predators and killers, often without a warrant or court order.”
Question: If sticking a device on someone’s car — which is a trespass to chattels in tort — is okay without a warrant, then is it okay if I stick a device on a police car so I can track where the cops are going, and index it against a list of known donut shops? Or would they find something to charge me with? And if the latter, then why doesn’t the creativity go both ways?
UPDATE: A reader emails: “You ask the question about tracking copsâ€¦ Well, about 5 or so years ago, I worked on a project developing a sort of a mobile lojack/home security system meant for boats. The easy way to test was to put these on street vehicles. A local police department volunteered to test the system. The way it worked, when the patrol turned on their siren, it sent a “distress” signal to a tracking command center. Turned out, the PD used it to monitor their officers that had complaints from citizens for using their sirens to get through red lights, then shuting them off. After a few bad cops were fired, the union stepped in and testing stopped.”
Well, most cops are fine. But I repeat, there’s a huge double-standard in the way we treat police intrusions on citizens versus the reverse.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Related thoughts here.
MORE: Apparently, when a private citizen does it it’s just a crime: “Man gets 16 months in prison for GPS stalking.”