I’m not anti-law enforcement, but I am against government agencies infringing upon my Constitutional right against unlawful search and seizure. So when I came across evidence members of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Board of Police Commissioners solicited bids for Stingray II surveillance system, I simply had to share it.
My discovery came Sunday afternoon, three months after reading a Popular Science article about one man’s discovery of phony cell towers installed at 17 locations across the country and only a few minutes after reading a Rutherford Institute piece about police in Houston using Stingray II equipment (a.k.a., “interceptors”) to illegally intercept and steal data from cell phones.
Curious, I conducted a quick web search which led to the discovery of a document, the Oct. 16, 2012, edition of The City Journal: Official Publication of THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS, posted online by the ACLU. Though I rarely rely upon the ACLU for any information, an entry on page 15 of the document reveals members of the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners issued an “INVITATION TO BID” for “Stingray II System/Parts/Training, Installation & Integration of Stingray II System in Chevrolet Tahoe, and a 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe.”
Now, I’m left with two questions: 1) Did members of the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners follow through and purchase the Stingray II surveillance equipment and related items? and 2) Are members of the Metropolitan St. Louis Police Department using the technology?
I suspect answers to the two questions above will not be forthcoming. Why? Because, according to The Rutherford Institute folks, many local police departments across the nation have obtained the technology and have kept its use secret, citing nondisclosure agreements with Harris Corporation, the technology’s manufacturer, and the FBI. Still, I’ll try to find out.
UPDATE 12/16/2014 at 8:24 p.m. Central: After waiting three days for an answer, the folks at the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department replied, saying, “The item was never purchased.”
UPDATE 3/11/2015 at 6:28 p.m. Central: On Feb. 23, after reading this article, I submitted the two follow-up questions below to Schron Y. Jackson, public information officer, at the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department:
1) Has the department purchased, or obtained via any other means, any items under any of the names Kingfish, AmberJack, HailStorm or Stingray?
2) Has the department purchased, or obtained via any other means, any items from Harris Corporation of Melbourne, Florida, during the past 10 years?
Sixteen days and two follow-up attempts later, I’m still waiting for an answer. Why?
UPDATE 3/16/2015 at 9:12 p.m. Central: Despite leaving phone messages and sending follow-up emails. Still no answer. Why?
UPDATE 3/18/2015 at 7:51 a.m. Central: Another email sent without results. Are they hiding something? Certainly looks that way.
UPDATE 4/19/2015 at 10:01 a.m. Central: According to this St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s use of illegal cell phone simulator technology forced prosecutors to drop more than a dozen charges against three defendants. FYI: Same update posted to new article, Saint Louis Police Admit to Using Illegal Surveillance Tech.by