The legality of tracking suspects with GPS will likely be challenged in the case of a former Indianapolis police officer accused of setting a string of apartment fires. Prior to the arrest of Officer Jesse Russell Jr., investigators obtained a search warrant and judicial authority to place a tracking device on his police car for 30 days.
The question of whether GPS technology violates a person’s right to privacy is getting growing attention around the country, particularly in the wake of conflicting opinions issued by different appellate courts.
Indianapolis police and the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office have declined to discuss their use of GPS to keep tabs on suspects. In California, a court ruled that police didn’t need a search warrant or probable cause to attach a GPS tracking device to a suspect’s car. But a Washington, D.C., court ruled against the warrantless use of GPS tracking by police and ordered the evidence obtained against the suspect tossed out of court. The U.S. Department of Justice has asked for an advisory opinion in the matter, which could send the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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