Monday, January 11, 2016

Judge Refuses To Toss Chicago Lawsuit Seeking Records Showing How Police Are Tracking Cell Phone Users

A Cook County judge turned down a motion by the Chicago Police Department asking it to toss a public records lawsuit, which is asking the department to make publicly available records showing how police have used cell phone tracking systems like Stingray to track individuals through their cell phone usage. Judge Kathleen Kennedy says she will review the records in camera and determine if any of them should be withheld from the public.

The requested records would include documents that would show when, where, how and why the cell phone tracking devices were used, the search warrants police obtained for their use, policies governing their use, records discussing their constitutionality and records about how the data is stored according to the Chicago Sun-Times report. Police complained that releasing the documents could compromise ongoing drug and terrorist-related investigations. Police also claim the records are protected under federal law, and that the manufacturer of Stingray, Harris Corp., requires the department to keep details about the devices originally developed for use by the military under wraps.

Previously-disclosed records show the Chicago Police Department spent more than $340,000 acquiring the technology. Those records also show the city has spent more than $120,000 on outside legal fees to fight the public records lawsuit. The department has admitted it used the devices in the past to spy on protesters at public demonstrations. The Sun-Times notes that police in other states have been forced to reveal in court proceedings how they've used the devices to locate and track suspects.

Both the Indiana State Police and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department are utilizing the Stingray devices sold by the Harris Corp. for undisclosed purposes. Hopefully, our local media will start doing a little more digging to learn how these devices are being used by law enforcement in Indiana.


Anonymous said...


Didn't you report on some secret holding facility that the police in Chicago use?

Gary R. Welsh said...

I talked about Chicago news reports of a black ops site where suspects were taken by CPD for interrogations where attorneys and family members were denied access to those in custody there and suspects complained that their constitutional rights had been violated.

Anonymous said...

Someone should also file a lawsuit to force Indiana State Police to disclose the same information and hold them accountable for the misuse of a stingray, as well as the disclosure of falsified affidavits used in obtaining search warrants.