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  • Is Big Brother on your side?

    Here is a thought provoking topic that may prompt some good discussion...if you have a position on this please post your thoughts.

    Dateline allas, TX - 7/12/2001 Dallas Morning News
    By Drake Witham

    The Dallas Police Department is using Global Positioning
    System technology to pinpoint within 10 feet the exact
    location, speed and direction of nearly 800 of the department's vehicles.

    The Automated Vehicle Locator system, which coordinates the global tracking information that bounces off satellites, is a $180,000 slice of a $9.4 million technology upgrade to squad cars and the dispatch center.

    Lt. Gene P. Summers of the Police Technology and Technical Support Unit said backup officers were impressed with the technology in late spring when an officer, who was pursuing a vehicle in a southwest Dallas alley, got out of his car and lost contact with the dispatch center. The dispatcher had no idea whether the officer needed assistance, police said.

    Using AVL, the dispatcher was able to pinpoint his location and get backup squad cars there within 30 seconds, police said.

    "It was able to zero in so close that they could pinpoint the car in an alley between two streets," Lt. Summers said. "The officers were amazed. They said they couldn't believe it was exactly where they were told it would be."

    Assistant Chief Thomas Ward said the system is designed first to provide safety for officers and citizens and second for efficiency in dispatching calls because a dispatcher can look at the screen and see the squad car closest to a call. Finally, he said, the system also provides supervision of the officers.

    It is the supervision and the system's ability to track an officer for an entire shift that has some concerned.

    "They can track you down to the second. This is Big
    Brother in real life," said Senior Cpl. Glenn M. White, president of the Dallas Police Association. "Their motives may have been proper, but unfortunately this information is going to be used to discipline people, and it's subject to accuracy."

    Data from the system have already been used in the
    termination of one officer, according to documents obtained through the Texas Open Records Act.

    Officer Ernest Fierro, 32, was fired in May for allegedly
    fleeing the scene of an accident and driving at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour before crashing his car again.

    Officer Fierro told investigators that he could not remember the moments before the accident that sent him to the hospital. But an eyewitness picked him out of a photo lineup. The AVL system showed him at the location of the first accident before leaving at a high rate of speed and continuing at more than
    100 mph for more than a minute before crashing, according to the documents. He disputed the system's accuracy.

    Not 100% dependable
    Lt. Summers would not comment on that case but said inaccurate readings occur at a rate of one per every 100,000. He said police using the system logs last week were able to determine that a woman who called in and said that a police car had hit her car and fled was mistaken.

    Senior Cpls. Eric Garrett and Patricia O'Donnel oversaw the installation of the $2,900 terminals in squad cars and the training of officers.

    "This system has provided us with the capability to reduce response time, improve service on the streets and added a safety feature for the officers," Cpl. Garrett said. "If we really need to find an officer in a hurry, we're going to find the officer.

    The computers also can read bar codes on drivers' licenses and retrieve information on arrests and speeding tickets.

    Within the past two weeks, terminals were installed at each of the dispatch regions allowing dispatchers to know exactly where the squad cars were. A separate part of the program gives each vehicle's exact speed and location every 300 meters, or three minutes.

    Quicker to the scene

    As dispatchers become more familiar with the system, Lt. Summers said they will be able to coordinate chases better by checking their screen for available squad cars. Wednesday afternoon, Dallas police assisted Dallas County constables in a chase by locating available squad cars close to the scene, Cpl. Garrett said.

    But not everyone is sold on the system. Some officers say that to improve response times, the computers list them at a location before they arrive. Others are concerned about computer hackers who might break into the system.

    Lt. Summers said that officers can still only be reported at a location by either notifying a dispatcher or punching a button on their computers. As for security concerns, he said the information exchanged between vehicles and satellites and the dispatch center is encrypted at the highest possible level, also used by the CIA and FBI.

    Sgt. Thomas Glover, president of the Texas Peace Officers Association, said some officers are concerned they are being used as "nothing more than a tool to keep them in line and make sure they are not in unauthorized locations."

    But he said the system's strong points locating officers who have not checked in or getting information on suspects strengthen the department.
    Kevin Woodside
    The Blue Line: Police Opportunity Monitor Newsletter, Publisher

  • #2
    Hmmmmmmm, thats a good one...

    My first thoughts are anything that can improve the safety of officers is a great thing, and there must be strong value placed on the comment "the system's strong points locating officers who have not checked in or getting information on suspects strengthen the department."

    On the other hand.. wow.. my first thought is NO way!! I am so sick and tired of all the "tracting systems, policies, procedures and everything else that is in place to "make sure" we do the job the right way!

    I also know (without getting specific) that if I always did my job exactly the way I was supposed to, I would not be effective. That to me is reality. Although the information obtained from this may not effect that, I would do a bit more research first before I make a final determination.

    Good topic!


    • #3
      My first thought it is a good idea for both safety and supervision. If an officer is not engaging in improper activity, what does he or she have to worry about?



      • #4
        If you have nothing to hide, you have no need for your rights, eh?

        P.S. To add to that, something I have been saying for a while now, with all this new technology, we (private civilians) will have the ability to police the police. With this system, we can track your every movement, where you go, how long you were there and how fast you got there. Finally we will be able to prove that the cop was doing 100+mph to get to the ice creame shop to meet his buddies.

        Police have always been excused for breaking traffic laws because no one can prove they weren't going to an emergency. Now we can. Not only that, but we will have a detailed record of your every movement for years to come. How many officers are ready to have John Q. Public watching over your shoulder, second guessing every call you make. Add this to cameras at traffic lights and face recognition cameras, and any mistake you make, error in split-second judgement, and you're nailed.

        You think you got it hard now with complaints and accusations of racial profiling, just wait, cause you ain't seen nothing yet. You'll be watched and policed more than any citizen ever has.

        Now, on top of that, imagine a two-bit hacker getting into the system and broadcasting the location of every cruiser. Bank robbers will know exactly how much time they have before a cop shows up.

        What? Expectation of privacy? How about NONE. Don't like armchair cops second guessing your work? Too bad. But hey, no problem, right? You got nothing to hide, unless you're doing something you shouldn't be doing, then you have no rights at all. How many of you officers are ready for this?

        [ 07-25-2001: Message edited by: Excalibur ]


        • #5
          Just remember that every evil thing has been done in the name of "safety" or "for the good of the public".

          The potential for abuse here is enormous.

          When the Jews were rounded up and exterminated the public was told that it was being done for their "saftey".

          Every single country country that has been disarmed was for "the good of the public".

          Are you goin to be disciplined because your LT deceided that you spent 1 minute and 46 seconds too long at the resturaunt for lunch ? How about for taking too many leaks ?
          What if you were checked and you were doing 46 mph in a 45 ? Will John Q.Public and his lawyers be able to examine every second of every day and what you were doing for a case the ymay be working on ?

          Will MR.CrookedLawyer be able to study and survey the activitys of the department ? How about the Black activist that thinks you are spending too much time patroling his neighborhood? What if someone decides that 5 or 6 vehicles responding to a violent scene is too much (in thier opinion)?.

          Its just another brick in the wall.

          More desensitization. A little privacy lost here and a little there, not so much that you notice, but one day we'll all wake up and we'll wonder where it all went.

          "The American People will never knowingly adopt Socialism. Under the name of "liberalism" they will adopt every segment of the socialist program,until one day America will be a socialist nation without knowing how it happened."

          Norman Thomas


          • #6

            Exactly which rights are being infringed upon? I may not always like everybody knowing where I am when I'm at work, but I certainly don't think any of my rights have been violated because of it. Its a fact of life in police work...if you live in a populated area, someone will know where you are no matter what!

            Cameras at intersections and on streets do not cause any rights to be infringed on either...last I remembered, it was legal for a cop to stand on the side of the street, etc. and watch people going by...tell me how a camera is different than a cop. As long as both are done in public and not on private property, they are legit.

            Facial recognition software for use in public is the same way. It's no different than a cop sitting on the street with a book of photo's looking for wanted people. The difference comes in money...it will cost less to have camera's doing the job then to set a cop out to do the same thing!

            Just my two cents!


            • #7
              Not being an Officer, I don't know how the technology being discussed in the article would affect the way they do their jobs; so I'll decline a comment on that one.

              However, I completely agree with Ksfuzz on the topic of facial recognition software cameras on the street. That technology does the same work that Officers on the street do. I think it's a good idea.
              [email protected] "Where there is love, there is no imposition"- Albert Einstien.


              • #8
                Ksfuzz, your right to privacy. Obviously, this is important to an officer, just read the other topic "The evils of eavesdropping".

                I understand when an officer is on duty for the public, their expectaction of privacy is lowered, but it still exists. I understand that when I'm in public, I can be seen, watched and even followed, but how many people expect it to be happening to them? Yes, an officer can stand on a corner, but will he be able to name every person that walked by in a minute, hour, day, month or even for years?

                Here is what I'm getting at. Do you expect your life in general, where you go and what you do to be private? With the advancing technology we have, we are putting up cameras on every corner, at every light, in places of business, and now tracking cars, their location and speed. The face recognition cameras will be snapping picturs steadily, even at once a second your movements and actions can be recorded.

                These pictures and information will be stored, permanantly. 20 years from now, your face can be put in, and every thing you've done, everywhere you've been, when you leave home, when you get home, right down to watching what lights go on and off and when, will be recorded forever. Your bathroom schedule will be recorded forever, and can be analyzed in detail at any time in the future.

                Your expectation of privacy has been chipped away for decades now. 50 years ago, just suggesting cameras on street corners would have sparked a rebellion. Now, it's just shrugged at.

                Those are the rights I'm referring to.

                [ 07-25-2001: Message edited by: Excalibur ]


                • #9
                  "when you leave home, when you get home, right down to watching what lights go on and off and when. Your bathroom schedule will be recorded forever, and can be analyzed in detail at any time in the future."

                  Excalibur...you really have a flair for the dramatic! LMAO

                  You are not an international terrorist, nobody is interested in your bathroom schedule.

                  You schedule your bathroom visits?
                  [email protected] "Where there is love, there is no imposition"- Albert Einstien.


                  • #10
                    We've had GPS tracking of our patrol cars for 6 years now. It's mostly worked out OK, although the boss has been known to get on the horn and ask why your car hasn't moved in a while.


                    • #11

                      "Excalibur...you really have a flair for the dramatic! LMAO"

                      Probably, and that gets me in trouble often around here.

                      "You are not an international terrorist, nobody is interested in your bathroom schedule."

                      I'm not a major criminal, so I have no need for my right to privacy? But honestly, I don't have to commit a crime. Still recorded, and if I'm ever even accused of a crime, it can be examined and made public.

                      "You schedule your bathroom visits?"

                      Well, I do get up the same time five days a week, the rest pretty much happens as needed.

                      So many things have started out with the best intentions, but are quickly abused. And who will be behind the camera, who will have access to those records? How secure will they be? Imagine the damage one dishonest person can do. Over dramatic? Won't be that way in a few more years.


                      • #12

                        You said this.

                        Now, on top of that, imagine a two-bit hacker getting into the system and broadcasting the location of every cruiser. Bank robbers will know exactly how much time they have before a cop shows up.

                        That is a scarey thought, considering
                        hackers have broken into the NSA, FBI, NASA
                        and other high security clearence areas,
                        no doubt they could pull something like
                        this off with this GPS system.

                        Check out the movie Hostile Intent,
                        it'll give you an idea of what can be done.

                        For the most part, I hate all this technology. I can't even walk into a
                        Wal-Mart without them knowing that I might
                        need to take a quick detour to the

                        A lot of people miss a key point on this
                        technology, and that is, there are a number
                        of highly intelligent criminals out there,
                        and they can and will use this technology to
                        their favor, too.

                        I think you made some good points. The next
                        step is, they will want officers to be monitored with this GPS crap while off duty,
                        so they can make sure the cops are "conducting themselves properly".

                        I am concerned this technology will have
                        a way of creeping into private citizens lives.

                        Unfortunately, I don't know if enough people
                        have read 1984, Brave New World, and Farenheit 451.


                        • #13
                          Here in the USA we are supposed to have rights. Only the military gives up their constitutional rights when they take the oath and go under UCMJ Law. Cops don't have a UCMJ, we are supposed to enjoy the rights that other citizens enjoy.

                          There are laws against placing cameras in work places to watch workers. Workers have a certain expectation to privacy, even while working. This shouldn't exclude cops. Or if it does, then we should strap the cheif and mayor with tracking devices so the town can see where they spend their days.

                          Maybe zealot brass who want this tracking device should get the same treatment. I know the captains where I work don't do much. They go to work, drink coffee and walk around HQ taking. Then they go to lunch and come back for more chit chat. They have secretaries to do their work. They are old and only stay becasue they make over 100K and get to hang out and visit. They take extended lunches, etc. Maybe the cops should hire a PI to follow around the brass and record their daily activities. Maybe then the brass wouldn't like the trackers so much.


                          • #14

                            Actually, what Excalibur said may not
                            be as much flair and dramatics as you
                            think. Excal is not far off about not
                            even being able to use the toilet in
                            privacy. Read this.

                            Smart Toilets - Sensors analyze your
                            output, and ship the data via the Internet
                            to health-care providers.

                            The data from the toilet's analysis is sent to your doctor's electronic archive files
                            at his office. Now, if you're in a traffic
                            accident or some kind of threatening situation involving your health, all paramedics have to do is scan your national
                            health smart card, or your Federal ID card,
                            or your new State Drivers License and the latest health check info is immediately available....updated by your most recent
                            trip to the toilet

                            May 31, 1999 - Newsweek Magazine

                            This is just the tip of the iceberg on
                            this technology thing. I keep updated
                            on it, and the more I find out, the more
                            I am against this kind of technology, it
                            is just plain too invasive. Can't even
                            take a dump in peace.


                            • #15

                              That was an excellent response you posted
                              up. You know, this makes working for
                              a small Sheriff Department in some Midwest
                              to Mideast state suddenly become quite


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