Recently Massachusetts state court ruled that the use of covert GPS can be installed by the police on a suspects vehicle without the suspect’s knowledge, provided that they have a warrant. The law states that as long as the police can prove that the GPS monitoring system will either provide evidence that a crime was committed or is about to be committed, then it can be planted on a vehicle. The warrant also states that the device can only be left on the vehicle for 15 days, while most warrants are only active for seven days.
Police had recently used GPS technology to track a local drug dealer named Everett H. Connolly. Local law enforcement had secretly installed the device on Conolly’s minivan and tracked his whereabouts to New York where he purchased and sold crack cocaine. He was then pulled over on the Route 6 highway where police arrested him after finding a ball of crack on him that weighed 124 grams.
One of the Justices, Ralph Grants, stated “Our constitutional analysis should focus on the privacy interest at risk from contemporaneous GPS monitoring, not simply the property interest.” He also stated “Only then will we be able to establish a constitutional jurisprudence that can adapt to changes in the technology of real-time monitoring, and that can better balance the legitimate needs of law enforcement with the legitimate privacy concerns of our citizens.”
So far the ability to use GPS monitoring on suspects through the use of a warrant has proven very useful. The recent rules set up by the justices allow for appropriate use of the new technology that is not invasive of private life but allows for the police to effectively fight crime in ways that they never could before.