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Boston Cops Outraged Over Plans to Watch Their Movements Using GPS

Unknown Lamer posted about 5 months ago | from the funny-thing-about-that-... dept.

Privacy 409

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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409 comments

They are right. (4, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | about 5 months ago | (#45462271)

"has many officers worried that commanders will monitor their every move"

That's sorta the point of this operation.
We know it sucks if you're just in a doughnut-shop and a robbery happens next door.
This will just nudge you to take the robbery first, the doughnut second.

As for the 45 minute dark alley meetings with confidential informants, you can be seen there with the naked eye!
Give your CI a fucking burner-phone, we're in the 3. millennium.

Re:They are right. (5, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 5 months ago | (#45462327)

"Why were you in the alley for 45 minutes?"
"I had an informant who didn't want to be seen talking"
"Oh, okay."

I don't see the problem here. You're on the job, so you should be doing your job. If a supervisor wants to question the way you do it and monitor your movements, fine. Let them... then they have no excuse for any poor performance, because they've been watching it the whole time, right?

That's kind of the idea. (1)

catfood (40112) | about 5 months ago | (#45462513)

If a cop typically spends a couple hours out of an eight-hour shift courting informants, and it's getting good results, then bravo.

Re:That's kind of the idea. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462605)

More likely "what were you doing in the house of that well-known drug trafficker?" "I was, huh, trying to collect evidence!"
Yeah, we all know the green evidence you fucks collect.

Re:That's kind of the idea. (5, Interesting)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 5 months ago | (#45462607)

Exactly. Every supervisor I've had for the past decade has known that I read Slashdot on the job. They also know that I deliver good results on time, and work extra without hesitation if needed. It should always be the results that matter.

Re:That's kind of the idea. (1)

catfood (40112) | about 5 months ago | (#45462709)

And the cop who keeps making good busts that never seem to have anything to do with informants? There's a conversation with the lieutenant in charge: even the good cops shouldn't be goofing off.

Re:That's kind of the idea. (4, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 5 months ago | (#45462719)

We had just started putting GPS on our delivery trucks about a year before I left my last job. The guys who did their route and got back to base in the expected amount of time were never checked unless a customer requested an ETA. However, we had a few guys who always seemed to take a lot longer, so we checked their GPS routes much more often and found stuff like two hour lunches, or going thirty miles out of their way to stop at home... stuff that really impacted our delivery schedules and the workload on their coworkers, not to mention limiting the total number of deliveries (which is to say, income) we could make from a single truck and driver.

tl;dr: Guys who delivered results were rarely monitored at all, and if they were, issues were usually ignored. Guys that didn't deliver good results could no longer give bullshit excuses and were dealt with appropriately.

Re:They are right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462341)

That's sorta the point of this operation.
We know it sucks if you're just in a doughnut-shop and a robbery happens next door.
This will just nudge you to take the robbery first, the doughnut second.

Do you have data on how often this happens, or you just hate cops for some reason?

Re:They are right. (4, Insightful)

paiute (550198) | about 5 months ago | (#45462359)

Do you have data on how often this happens

No - and that is the point of the whole thing.

Re:They are right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462623)

No - and that is the point of the whole thing.

Actually, it's not. I mean it's really fucking not. I realize this is /., where cops are bad and independence rules, but some reading comprehension would get you to realize that the point of this has to do with dispatch calls, not police officer donut consumption.

Re:They are right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462409)

45 minutes in a dark alley... meeting a confidential informant... right... we all know that is BS.... It was nap time... been there... done that... get used to the new rules.

Re:They are right. (0)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 5 months ago | (#45462727)

Actually, it's " in a dark Alley". She's a black hooker. And his penis was doing to the talking. And the talking is... well, you get the picture.

Re:They are right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462583)

In an alley for 45mins? He was getting blown or taking a nap aka filling out paperwork. Heaven forbid anyone have any oversight right?

Re:They are right. (4, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | about 5 months ago | (#45462637)

It is for their safety. If they are in one spot for a few minutes, and not responding, help can be sent immediately. There is no reason why we should put these hero first responders in unnecessary jeopardy.

Re:They are right. (1)

Xest (935314) | about 5 months ago | (#45462723)

"As for the 45 minute dark alley meetings with confidential informants"

It's police talk for "spending 45minutes screwing the local hooker".

Re:They are right. (1, Insightful)

bfandreas (603438) | about 5 months ago | (#45462737)

I am in two minds concerning this.

First of all police officers need to be much more transparent. Their accountability needs to be improved. Police brutality and esprit de corps types of cover-up of malfeasance is a problem worldwide. Not only in the US, but Germany and the UK, too. There are conflicting reports about the amount of force used during arrests. Too many detainees(the majority of which aren't hardened criminals) have suffered injuries while a band of coppers declared unisono that they fell down a flight of stairs, resisted arrests and the usual nonesense. I'd dearly like to see recordings for everything they do.

On the other hand we shouldn't forget that coppers are also persons with a right to privacy and that the ones who pick up drunks, get called to petty disputes and car accidents are notoriously underappreciated, underpaid and overworked with a high risk for burn-out. They do deserve our appreciation for that.


So I'd say that yes, we should do any type of recording including video, sound and GPS data. But we also need PROPER ways to protect the individual rights of the coppers. If the GPS data is needed for statistical analysis then we should store it anonymously and in bulk with no way to tie it back to individual officers. If we OTOH need that data for accountability purposes then it needs to be sealed away and only be accessed by court order. A proper court. Not a FISA kangaroo court.



You crack your little doughnut shop based jokes but if you spend some thought on a problem then you will find that it isn't so easy to solve in a world that stubbornly refuses to be black&white and where stereotypes hardly happen. This is not a third rate The Simpsons episode.

Funny that. (4, Insightful)

EasyTarget (43516) | about 5 months ago | (#45462277)

pots and kettles etc.

But they were okay with them tracking us? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462283)

This is pretty ironic to say the least. They loved the idea that they could track anyone at any time but they don't like the idea of being tracked. I feel no sympathy.

Re:But they were okay with them tracking us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462627)

All of my *this*.

Who watches the Watchers? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462285)

Their commanders? If cops can't trust other cops, why should the public trust cops?

Re: Who watches the Watchers? (1)

tysonedwards (969693) | about 5 months ago | (#45462473)

Isn't it already the job of dispatch to know where an officer is at all times when they are on duty?

Re: Who watches the Watchers? (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 5 months ago | (#45462555)

To some degree yes, but dispatch only knows a patrol area not exactly where a unit or officer is in that patrol area.

Re:Who watches the Watchers? (3, Insightful)

Smauler (915644) | about 5 months ago | (#45462675)

Police are civil servants, and paid for by our taxes. Why not have them completely accountable and visible all the time they are on the job?

Straight to internet feeds... no watchers.

'Cops mad at being monitored at work' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462291)

The irony is so rich!!

Aww, what's wrong? (5, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | about 5 months ago | (#45462297)

Poor powiceman. Don't worry. After all, if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide, right?

Re:Aww, what's wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462323)

oh ? you mean that shoe pinches on the other foot ? ? ?
huh, don't i feel bad for the donut-eaters...

(remember kampers: you are 8-10 times more likely to be killed by a domestic terrorist, er, kop, than a foreign terrorist, er, freedom fighter...)

Barking up the wrong tree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462521)

The cops aren't the ones repeating that ancient fable. They're only the pawns. It's the elite few at the top of the power pyramid who use that line -- the ones who run the business of government, call the shots, and benefit the most from endlessly expanding the business of government (via the police state or otherwise). Those are the masterminds, the architects of oppression. They are the ones you should direct your anger at, not the pawns.

Re:Barking up the wrong tree (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462635)

The cops aren't the ones repeating that ancient fable.

Wrong. Many cops do. In fact, most people do.

Re:Barking up the wrong tree (4, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | about 5 months ago | (#45462657)

False, on several points. Every time one of those "masterminds" pushes some abusive big-brother shit, police unions invariably support it, to make them "more effective."

Plus, it was well-established years ago that "just following orders" (being "pawns") doesn't excuse evil and corrupt behavior.

It is perfectly reasonable to hold both the corrupt leadership, and those who spread their corruption through the populate, in the same anger and contempt.

Re:Aww, what's wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462525)

Schadenfreuden shoots and scores! +5 Insightful ! As long as it's "them" and not "us".

License to fu*k off Revoked (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 5 months ago | (#45462307)

Really? 45 minutes in a dark alley 'interviewing' a reluctant witness? THAT'S your best argument against technology that could locate you instantly if your life's in peril? Someone is going to be watching the watchers in Beantown.

Re:License to fu*k off Revoked (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 5 months ago | (#45462591)

My guess if that witness/informant/source didn't want to be seen talking to police they sure as hell wouldn't jaw jack for 3/4 of an hour in plain sight with them.

There's a nifty little device that let's people communicate without the general public knowing who you are talking to, it's called get this, a telephone ZOMG! Not only that but if they use a pay phone it goes a bit further to prevent listening in.

An officer on duty has no expectation of privacy (5, Insightful)

WillAdams (45638) | about 5 months ago | (#45462315)

while performing their duty.

They're expected to fill out a duty log detailing everything which they did.
They're expected to accurately and promptly reply when the dispatcher asks where they are and what they're doing.
If their supervisor shows up on site and asks what's happening they are obligated to comply.
If an elected official whose duties include supervising those in their chain of command shows up, they are obligated to comply w/ reasonable requests for information.

Re:An officer on duty has no expectation of privac (3, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 5 months ago | (#45462357)

On top of that I would add something largely forgotten: they are acting the public's trust and in the name of the government that is (at least still in name) are acting on the behalf of the public. Every person that pays into that trust with taxes should have the right to know what is going on and hold officials accountable.

Police departments attract people that like to use authority over others and many officers forget they are operating in the public trust. There should no expectation of privacy at all, and I think the Federal courts constant cutting down of rules and laws meant to keep police actions private backs that idea up.

Might also fix their speeding (4, Interesting)

vawwyakr (1992390) | about 5 months ago | (#45462317)

So why were you driving a 100 miles an hour down the interstate when you weren't responding to a call? I see it pretty often around here...no siren, just one cop driving down the shoulder of the road passing traffic.....

Re:Might also fix their speeding (2)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 5 months ago | (#45462427)

At least where we live, an admittedly small sampling, there seems to exist a preponderance of entitlement in those that enforce the law: it doesn't apply equally to them. I believe that is one of the many perks of those who swerve and neglect.

Re:Might also fix their speeding (4, Interesting)

oobayly (1056050) | about 5 months ago | (#45462455)

Tell me about it, in the UK a Policeman was let off doing 159mph [bbc.co.uk] as he was the "creme de la creme of drivers". They completely ignored the fact that other drivers have no ability to deal with people driving at over twice the expected speed on a motorway.

This happened to me on a dual carriageway (70mph limit) - I looked in my mirror and saw a car in the distance and estimated that I had enough time to pull out and overtake the lorry. By the time I'd started indicating and pulling out, a Nobel was on top of me - based on the distance covered he must have been doing about 140mph.

excuse me while a laugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462325)

oh... turning the tables really sucks ass, dunnit...

Re:excuse me while a laugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462579)

Gives a good idea Put the NSA's top bosses phones on taps :) let em feel their own medecine ..

Re:excuse me while a laugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462603)

In fact, surveillance isn't bad IF ALL THE PROCESS IS MONITORED AND FINELY EXAMINED.

So you have a good idea buddy... now get a few friends and try to take over the presidential seat!

Even if I'm not from USA, I'd still give a few bucks for your campaign!

Gee officers... (4, Insightful)

putaro (235078) | about 5 months ago | (#45462329)

If you have nothing to hide you shouldn't mind if you're being watched, now should you?

Beware hidden effects (5, Interesting)

dandaman32 (1056054) | about 5 months ago | (#45462339)

There's a reason this ended up on the ACLU's website.

If you read TFA, Boston uses automatic license plate readers (ALPRs). Since each readout is logged and timestamped, this log data correlated with location history for cruisers could be used to build a massive location history database with very good coverage.

Barring that, as a public servant, a police officer is not entitled to privacy while on the job. As they are granted powers most people are not, they must also expect to be held accountable for their actions.

When off the clock, an officer is entitled to privacy like every other citizen. Keep in mind, the GPSes are installed in the cruisers. They're not ankle bracelets for crying out loud. If they're on foot patrol (do cops still do that?) the red dot on the dispatcher's map will show their car's location. The question mostly remains, then, do Boston cops typically drive their cruisers home, or leave them at the station and drive their personal cars home?

Since the goal of this tracking is to make 911 dispatching more efficient, the simplest solution is just to not record historic location data - show it in real time, and that's it. This mitigates tthe data mining and privacy issues while still giving 911 the tools they need.

Re:Beware hidden effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462495)

They almost never do foot patrol anymore unless they're motorcycle or bicycle cops, or they're working traffic for utilities/public events/etc.

I also don't think they drive their patrol cars home, but if they do, then they still should have no expectation of privacy while driving that vehicle since it is a government-owned vehicle that we the tax payers have paid for. Driving home at the end of your shift is fine, but you shouldn't be running around doing your errands in a cop car on your day off. If you are, then your supervisors should, rightly, fire your stupid ass.

Re:Beware hidden effects (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 5 months ago | (#45462653)

Where the hell do you live?

I don't live in Boston but I can tell you in my area, way smaller than Boston some officers do drive their patrol cars home.

I know this from seeing them parked in their driveways. We do have foot patrols in certain areas, we even have a mounted division on horseback in certain areas.

Yes police still patrol on foot. While an officer in a cruiser can patrol a larger area, driving in a car you may miss something a foot patrol would spot.

Re:Beware hidden effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462517)

^This^

Re:Beware hidden effects (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 5 months ago | (#45462699)

If you read TFA, Boston uses automatic license plate readers (ALPRs). Since each readout is logged and timestamped, this log data correlated with location history for cruisers could be used to build a massive location history database with very good coverage.

Then keep the cop GPS, but get rid of the ALPRs.

The question mostly remains, then, do Boston cops typically drive their cruisers home, or leave them at the station and drive their personal cars home?

They should be doing the latter anyway.

Re:Beware hidden effects (2)

InsightfulPlusTwo (3416699) | about 5 months ago | (#45462705)

Actually, I can think of a use for recording the GPS data. They can create a map of the city that shows police cruiser coverage, then make sure they are covering the city more evenly for improved crime prevention. It also reduces the paperwork burden of reporting where they were and when and provides a backup record to clarify any uncertainty as to their location in case a problem occurs.

Finally, I don't see why meeting with a witness requires a location that is secret from the police... it's not as if the GPS is going to identify the witness. If it does, they can always turn it off.

Simple solution (1, Troll)

Hrshgn (595514) | about 5 months ago | (#45462343)

Give the officers the ability to turn off the GPS tracking momentarily (undercover mode) and both sides should be happy.

Re:Simple solution (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 5 months ago | (#45462443)

Yeah, because that's not going to be subject to abuse. Cops that are actually undercover would probably be exempt from this, although the number of legit operations they have is pretty limited.

Re:Simple solution (4, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | about 5 months ago | (#45462489)

I imagine that an undercover cop isn't doing his job particularly well if he's driving a police cruiser.

Re:Simple solution (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 5 months ago | (#45462683)

I imagine that an undercover cop isn't doing his job particularly well if he's driving a police cruiser.

Maybe he's from Internal Affairs and is simply POSING as a cop.

Re:Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462445)

If you give them the ability to turn it off... it will always be turned off.

Hypocrites (4, Insightful)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 5 months ago | (#45462345)

'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.'

Then moron, you log and report it like any other part of a proper investigation, and your commanding officer will be fine. If however you were on that street using your authority to extort sex from a drug addict prostitute, I can see why you are concerned.

Personally, I think all law enforcement officers, with exception possibly of undercover operations should have constant GPS and video surveillance of them (perhaps wearing google glass). Unless it is sensitive information to a current investigation it should be public domain. Once an investigation is complete the same shoud apply.

Law enforcement types tend to be abusive bullies that think they are doing things for the good of others, much like the father/spouse that is beating you 'because I love you'. There is less and less accountability for law enforcement, we need to change that.

Re:Hypocrites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462463)

perhaps wearing google glass

The government shouldn't use closed source garbage at all.

This, all this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462467)

Further, every professional LE officer I've talked to is carries a pen camera just so they've got something to back up their argument. It's not high enough resolution to be very useful for anything other than showing roughly where they are and who shot first, but it sure beats testimony when facing accusations.

Re:Hypocrites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462659)

If however you were on that street using your authority to extort sex from a drug addict prostitute, I can see why you are concerned.

I think you should be more concerned about picking up STDs from that kind of encounter...

I'll save them the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462347)

https://www.google.com/maps/preview#!q=Dunkin'+Donuts%2C+1138+Washington+St%2C+Boston%2C+MA+02118%2C+USA

Just how reluctant? (5, Insightful)

Soluzar (1957050) | about 5 months ago | (#45462351)

Maybe if you're conducting the "interview" with the "reluctant" witness with your fists, then you're hesitant to tell the superior officers about it.

... so... (4, Interesting)

ImOuttaHere (2996813) | about 5 months ago | (#45462353)

... the watcher is watched and finds out they don't like it? Well, well...

I'm in the midst of reading a book on Victorian England. It's interesting to learn a little about how policing came into being. No surprise to me that from the very beginning, policing had nothing to do with protecting and serving anyone but the monied classes. Policing has _always_ been about subduing the restless masses. [Hey! I'm a poet and don't know it!!!]

"Who wants to be followed all over the place?" (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462361)

Answer: People who are on the clock, and on the public payroll. Put down the donut and get to work, officer, like the rest of us. Has anyone noticed how all the union-busting laws that have been passed by Republican governors and legislatures exempt police and firefighter unions from regulation? That's insulting.

Poetic Justice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462365)

So the shoe is on the other foot and they don't like it. Well too bad. Law enforcement has always claimed it's not a violation of our privacy, so how can it be a violation of theirs? There are problems with the plan of course, but overall I like the idea of the courts being able to ask the police what they were doing in the area when a defense witness mysteriously falls down two flights of stairs.

My big question is, can the officers turn the system off like their badge-cams when they beat up suspects?

Who else will be tracking them? (1)

fendragon (841926) | about 5 months ago | (#45462367)

How long before organized crime is also tracking the movements of officers?

Re:Who else will be tracking them? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462507)

Um.. probably the 1920s?

STFU and sit down....

Re:Who else will be tracking them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462735)

The police are the organized crime.

Awww... (3, Funny)

Jaysyn (203771) | about 5 months ago | (#45462371)

... & here I am playing the world smallest violin for these poor, put-upon police officers.

Now they'll have to do their job (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 5 months ago | (#45462379)

they'll have their freedom to do what they want restricted, so of course they're outraged. That's really the only issue here.

This is so funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462389)

Cops are worried that they are being followed? Haha! Oh, the irony... it's killing me.

Already common (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462391)

Many public safety departments use location tracking and reporting so they can dispatch the closest units. My department's fire apparatus report their location so it can be displayed on the county CAD system as well as on the on-board mobile data terminals of other units.

Re:Already common (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462647)

Indeed. I was more shocked that Boston *doesn't* have GPS already. I mean, what year *is* it up there? We've had GPS on our police cruisers here for many years now, and I live in *Louisiana* (not the most bleeding edge of states).

Plausible deniability. (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 5 months ago | (#45462403)

'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?'

This is where you pick the dark back street behind the donut shop.

More Bacon (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462413)

All pigs are dirty bitches.

embarassment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462419)

This is going to show how much time they spend per year looking for Mooninites.

Bostonian here (4, Informative)

LeepII (946831) | about 5 months ago | (#45462441)

As a Bostonian this makes me happy. Maybe the cops sleeping in their cars will now have to work for a living. Having worked downtown for years I know exactly where and when to go to find a cop hiding and asleep in his car.

You work for us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462447)

Policemen need to be reminded that they work for the People, and they need to be accountable to a higher standard given the authority that they are granted.
Guys, if you don't like it, perhaps consider another career. No one is forcing you to be a policeman.

In a regular 9 - 5 job, like as an accountant, I would agree that having your movements tracked is not reasonable or necessary. But as a police officer, I think it should be de rigeur.

And let's be honest.... it's not like this information is going on a website. The only people seeing it will be your captain or his supervisors. It's still behind your fabled "blue line" so really, what are you afraid of?

Chickens come home to roost (3, Insightful)

hduff (570443) | about 5 months ago | (#45462471)

Dear Public Servants: If you're not doing anything wrong, then there shouldn't be a problem.

Our company does exactly this same tracking. (2)

the_rajah (749499) | about 5 months ago | (#45462475)

All the field technicians have company supplied phones that have GPS tracking enabled. Their supervisor can track them via a map display and their movements are logged and retained. They also are dispatched via those phones and enter their time and material accounting per job that way. It's very efficient. Do they like it? No, not very much, but it's part of the deal if you work as a field technician for this company with over 30,000 employees world-wide. If you don't like it, don't work in this well-paid industry. All of the competitors are doing the same thing.

Lookouts (1)

seven of five (578993) | about 5 months ago | (#45462481)

The job of being a lookout just got easier, if a bit more technical. In addition to a portable scanner, they'd need a smartphone or some other gadget to watch the red dots on the map.

Meanwhile in Canada (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462485)

I work in Law Enforcement in Canada (not a cop) but I can tell you that up here, in my area anyways; we have GPS not only in the cars, but on each officers individual RADIO. Hell even the meter maids have GPS in their radio. Its an officer safety question, when you make an Officer needs assistance call dispatch immediately knows exactly where you are, and everyone else can respond accordingly. I've never heard any officer complain about it.

It has other uses too, for example the bylaw/parking officer can simply call for a tow truck "To my location" and then leave and get on with their day.

Re:Meanwhile in Canada (2)

Jaysyn (203771) | about 5 months ago | (#45462527)

I'd bet dollars to donuts that Canadian cops are a bit more on the up & up than Bostonian cops.

Good Idea (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 5 months ago | (#45462531)

Perhaps we should extend this to any government official. Make them wear a GPS device on their person that at any time the general public can track their every move.

Re:Good Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462667)

Why wearable? This is for government officials, right? Insertable!

Why (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about 5 months ago | (#45462535)

They are public employees and the public has every right to know where they are and what they are doing well at work. The public is effectively there boss / manager, at any company your boss / manager would want to know where you are so I don't see what the issue, I say just do it and if they don't like it they can quit.

Oh the irony ... (4, Interesting)

tgd (2822) | about 5 months ago | (#45462539)

Of Boston's NPR this morning having a series on prostitution in Boston, and talking about the frequency that Boston cops are seen ... well, lets just say not arresting the girls ...

No wonder they don't want GPS in the cars ...

What's good for the goose... (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 5 months ago | (#45462565)

... is good for the gander.

They should be challenged on why they think that mass surveillance and law enforcement overreach is okay for us, but not them.

Citizens don't trust cops ... (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 5 months ago | (#45462571)

Plain and simple.

Between cops who think they can confiscate your camera and delete the images, cops who file an incident report only to have amateur video show what really happened, the fact that they want to have warrantless wiretapping and GPS tracking, and generally a lot of bad behavior -- these days citizens have very little reason to trust cops.

Either the perception is they're outright lying to us, or that they're crooked and on the take, or just generally willing to abuse their authority.

I'm sure there are many good an honest cops. But there's also a fair few which seem anything but.

How often has there been an officer involved shooting, which eventually turns out to be a complete misuse of force which we never would have known about without something catching it on video to tell us what really happened?

I'm of the opinion cops should be absolutely tracked on GPS, and should also be wearing cameras to record their interactions with the public. And in a world where the government wants to spy on everything we do, I have no sympathy for police who want to be able to be off the record and leave it entirely to the story they tell us to define the truth.

Often these days one is left with the impression that there's enough cops who are just thugs with badges that you more or less have to assume we're better off by closely watching what they do instead of just taking them at face value.

Because there's been at least half a dozen news stories in the last few years where the police have been shown to be lying, and just circling the wagons to come up with the official story when they do something wrong.

Funny timing (4, Interesting)

LostMyBeaver (1226054) | about 5 months ago | (#45462573)

I passed an unmarked a few hours ago, looked at the cops inside and just shook my head and thought "Somehow, the criminals don't scare me like these guys do."

So many cops have such a "Bad Boy" look these days. They carry themselves as if they're mean and tough. And frankly, I couldn't imagine asking one for help. Last year, I was in North Carolina and was lost and my phone battery was dead. I walked up to an officer and politely asked him if he could point me towards the local train station. He abruptly pointed and walked away. I eventually asked someone who looked like a criminal as I was out of options and he gave me good directions and a light for my cigarette.

I think cops who are used to a little too much freedom might need this.

chilling effects? (2)

Virtucon (127420) | about 5 months ago | (#45462585)

Naw, it's just typical union mentality that gets in the way of something like quicker response time. This means that resources get used more efficiently, reducing crime and not having to incur additional costs such as more police. That's contrary to labor practice which is let's hire more people. Or they could just be trying to find the best doughnut/coffee shops in town. Does this mean when the police get caught up in all the "police state" surveillance there may actually be some thoughts of saying we've gone to far? Naw, the Administration and the Defense contractors have too much vested interest in selling all those drones and cameras and license plate trackers. So, cops of Boston, consider this a jobs program but not for you but for all those oinks in DC living off of our Tax Dollars.

I feel like a hypocrite (2)

Tifer (2644417) | about 5 months ago | (#45462609)

because I caught myself thinking this is a good idea. It sounds fine. But any other type of surveillance of any other group of people I would vehemently oppose. Why is it that this doesn't bother me, and is this what it feels like to be a supporter of the NSA?

This is bad for cops. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462611)

This is even worse for the general public. There is nothing meaner than a pissed off cop. Try explaining why you were in a dark alley for 45 minutes to a cop who has to explain why he was in a dark alley for 45 minutes..

Police same as us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462693)

The police have the same concerns as we do getting tracked - that supervisors that are less than competent or manipulating politics will burn them. Not to mention money chasing lawyers that will manipulate this in court, or the misinfotainment corporations that will twist truth and blatantly lie to sell more papers and commercials. If you want to track the real threat then go after the politicians. They're the ones make the stupid laws that the police have to enforce.

No symmetry, no peace! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462703)

Now if we could only stop and frisk the motherfuckers, too...
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