Local Newport News, Va., and the FBI will not say if they recently used global positioning system (GPS) technology to track a drug smuggler because, “we don’t want to give up any tactical advantage,” according Newport News police representative Harold Eley.
Nevertheless, a GPS system can track a car through a tiny implant placed on the vehicle, and in a recent 230-mile drug run by a local ringleader, the Newport News police mapped the ringleader’s movements via GPS technology.
The Virginia Department of Corrections is studying whether satellite tracking via ankle bracelets can and should be used for high-risk criminals on parole or probation.
The Supreme Court endorsed GPS technology about 20 years ago in a case affirming an undercover cop’s plant of a GPS bug on a suspect’s car.
College of William and Mary law professor Fred Lederer believes that GPS will eventually provoke a societal debate about the proper balance between law enforcement tools and individual privacy.
So far, private detectives using GPS to track wandering-eye spouses has provoked some public debate in some regions of the country.
Apparently, the Baltimore police used GPS to track the Newport News drug ringleader over a period of 10 to 12 days as the suspect journeyed between Baltimore and Newport News.
Subsequent raids on the suspect’s various abodes and a girlfriend’s house yielded up about $46,000 in cash, 10 total ounces of heroin and cocaine, half a pound of marijuana, and assorted firearms.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Newport News Daily Press (Va.) (03/19/03) P. C1; Chernicky, David.