Should new technology be used to track down fugitives? - KMSP-TV

Should new technology be used to track down fugitives?

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(WJBK) - The U.S. military is using new technology to find and apprehend terrorists. A defense contractor in Florida, called the Harris Corporation, built and tweaked the device known as Hailstorm.

A previous code name was Stingray.

It's a mini cellphone tower that can be moved to gather cellphone information.

A law enforcement version is used by handful of U.S. police agencies to learn more about known bad guys.

The Oakland County Sheriff Department is the only agency in Michigan to use it. Oakland County bought the police version with federal grant money about a year ago.

"It's a tool for law enforcement that we use to arrest wanted fugitives, people that rape, people that rob people, people that commit heinous crimes," says Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe.   

He says it's important to understand that in Michigan a judge signs a warrant in each case authorizing the use of this technology.

"A judge look at our affidavit and then decides whether or not to issue a search warrant that allows us to use this tool," McCabe.

This tool is not used to listen to cell phone conversations, according to McCabe.

"It does not listen to phone calls; it doesn't have the capability to listen to phone calls, okay? Only the federal government can wire tap or listen to phone calls, and that's under federal statute. In Michigan, local law enforcement cannot do that. We don't have the ability to do it, number one, and number two it's against the law for us to do it," he says.

State Representative Tom McMillan, who has launched a run for Congress, chairs the House Oversight Committee and says he has an issue with police using the cell phone technology.

His primary complaint?

"I do feel like I've been stonewalled. I also, they sent me to the FBI, I talked to them as well. It just seems like, are [sic] we really want to use the devices, military-style devices, and we don't know what it's doing; there was no oversight. I'm crafting legislation to make sure that there is oversight and I welcome the sheriff's department. I'm not saying that this shouldn't be used, but if we can ensure that it can be used without violating Fourth Amendment," says McMillan.

"It does not surveil people. It does not fly in the sky. It doesn't take pictures. It doesn't take video. It does not record conversations. It does not collect data, personal data, on anybody. It doesn't go into your smart phone and download anything, okay? It does not data mine. It's a tool that's authorized by the court that allows us to arrest fugitives, wanted fugitives," says McCabe.

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