Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sheriff leaves GPS On Critic's Car For Four Months

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
- Amendment IV -
Wow, so they think it's okay to attach a GPS device on someone's car because they 'THINK' that person 'MIGHT' commit a crime?

And then then they try to justify it by saying that it wasn't turned on?

From the Coloradoan:

Sheriff’s deputies secretly attached a GPS tracker to the truck of a vocal local government critic who they feared was planning to kidnap her son — and then tried and failed to retrieve it for four months.

Stacy Lynne found the device on her SUV earlier this month after growing suspicious that deputies were following her. Lynne has repeatedly tangled with the sheriff’s office and Fort Collins city officials over a variety of issues, including what she believes is a U.N. plot to take over local government and a child-custody battle that led to her arrest.
She looked for and discovered the tracker after several incidents in which she returned to her truck to find police nearby and thought they might have been following her.

As it turns out, they were.

“That is unbelievable. I think that’s unbelievable. Isn’t that called stalking?” Lynne said after learning details of the tracker from the Coloradoan.

A December court order demanding that she turn her son over to his father set off a chain of events Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said “should not have happened.”

On Dec. 21, sheriff’s deputies told Lynne to turn over her son, Jaden, as ordered by the court. Lynne, believing the order to be illegal and invalid, refused at first and went to a local copy shop to write up a legal pleading. While she was inside, deputies hid a GPS tracker under the bumper of her SUV. Then they arrested her.

“They did place a GPS tracker on that vehicle because we didn’t know where that kid was. There was a fear that she would flee with the child,” Smith said. “We had a court order that this child needed to be safely returned.”

Lynne was booked into the jail and held there until her son was handed over to his father a few hours later. She was then released, and no charges were ever brought against her.

But the GPS tracker remained on her SUV.Because Lynne didn’t flee, deputies never got a court order allowing them to turn the tracker on, Smith said. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled routine GPS tracking of Americans requires a search warrant, although there are exceptions for exigent circumstances such as an immediate threat to life. Placing the device didn’t require a warrant, Smith said.

The tracker Lynne pulled from her SUV has three parts: a battery pack, a processor and GPS unit, and an external antenna.

Deputies tried several times to retrieve the device, but Smith said they didn’t want to trespass on private property or tip off Lynne that the tracker was there. He said they went to places where she was known to frequent in hopes of secretly retrieving it, but they were unable to get it back.

Smith said deputies were reluctant to tell Lynne they had attached the device to her SUV. Lynne is already suing the sheriff’s office over that Dec. 21 incident.

“They just couldn’t find it, and we didn’t want to trespass on private property to retrieve it,” Smith said. “Certainly in this case, the last thing I wanted to see was things that would add to her angst.”

Responded Lynne: “I guess that didn’t work out so well.”

Smith said he’s talking with his deputies about what happened and how to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Like many other agencies, the sheriff’s office much more commonly uses cell-phone data to track the location of people. He said the office has been using the GPS trackers for a number of years.

Smith said he supports the placement of the GPS tracker on Lynne’s SUV but said losing track of it was a mistake.

“I’m not happy it was just floating out there. We should have found a way. We should have gotten that thing back,” he said.
No, what you should have done was get a warrant FIRST before putting that thing on there.

Maybe the ol' Sheriff needs to read up on this:

On July 23, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously: The Fourth Amendment provides in relevant part that “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” It is beyond dispute that a vehicle is an “effect” as that term is used in the Amendment. United States v. Chadwick, 433 U. S. 1, 12 (1977). We hold that the Government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, 2 and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a “search.”

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