A St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department official confirmed today that its officers are using cell phone simulator technology many believe is illegal and violates citizens’ privacy.
As a follow-up to a piece I wrote and published Nov. 17 and as a result of reading several articles (see examples here and here) about the technology, I fired off two questions to SLMPD spokesperson Schron Jackson Feb. 23:
1) Has the department purchased, or obtained via any other means, any items under any of the names Kingfish, AmberJack, HailStorm or Stingray? and
2) Has the department purchased, or obtained via any other means, any items from Harris Corporation of Melbourne, Florida, during the past 10 years?
In an email message received today, 31 days later, at 12:52 p.m. Central, Jackson wrote the following:
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department does possess a cell site simulator that is designed to allow our personnel to locate a lawfully targeted cellphone. The cell site simulator is a particularly effective tool and has assisted greatly in keeping the citizens of our community safe. Unfortunately, there are widely held misconceptions about the usage of cell site simulators, partly as a result of law enforcement’s decision to not disclose specific information about the devices. In the case of cell site simulators, numerous federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies have determined that the public release of technical details, applications, and operational procedures would create a significant detriment to the protection of their communities by providing criminal elements with the ability to circumvent the devices.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-law enforcement. I am, however, against government agencies infringing upon my Constitutional right against unlawful search and seizure.
If you agree with me, contact SLMPD Chief Sam Dotson via Twitter (@) or through Jackson via her email address (MEDIA@slmpd.org or firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (314-444-5603 or 314-444-5604). Be forewarned, however, that it might take her a month or longer to respond.
UPDATE 4/19/2015 at 10 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.
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