Well, at least they won’t have to give him his pot back. Robert Dale Lee was arrested in September of last year on what appeared to be a routine traffic stop. At the stop, Kentucky State Troopers “happened” to have a drug sniffing dog on hand. The dog followed its nose to a gargantuan stash of marijuana, 150 pounds’ worth, to be exact. Robert Dale Lee went into custody, lawyered up, and now, months later, stands to be a free man.
It turned out that the routine traffic stop was not routine at all. The Drug Enforcement Administration had their eye on Lee for months, suspecting he was buying large portions of marijuana in Chicago, then shipping it to northern Kentucky and reselling it there. Lee was on parole at the time; and theGPS tracking device was installed on his truck, apparently in secrecy, while Lee met with the parole officer.
Lee then allegedly went to Chicago and purchased 150 pounds of marijuana. The DEA called the Kentucky state police after the accused crossed state lines. The police drummed up a probable cause, pulled Lee over, and instituted a search, allegedly with consent.
A Traffic Stop or Not a Traffic Stop?
The crux of the Robert Dale Lee case is the question of why he was arrested. As a result of a U.S. Supreme court ruling this year, no law enforcement may track a suspect without a warrant from a judge. The DEA did not obtain that warrant before placing the tracking device.
However, the DEA was hoping to work around the law by drumming up a routine traffic stop in order to get Lee arrested on the spot. The DEA planted the GPS device, tracked the vehicle into Kentucky, and then set the trap for Lee. So was, the resulting arrest directly related to the illegal planting of a GPS tracking device for law enforcementpurposes? According to the courts, it was.
In the continuing battle of GPS law, law enforcement agencies, once extremely dependent on warrant-free GPS tracking of suspects, are looking for loopholes. Placing a GPS on a vehicle and setting up a routine traffic stop is apparently not a good loophole—sage advice for the law enforcement professional against foolhardily putting that GPS on a vehicle.
Author: John Chapman
Your one stop for gps monitoring needs, contact an experienced GPS Monitoring Specialist to assist you with any GPS situtation.
There’s more to a GPS designed specifically for Marine GPS applications than meets the eye. To the casual seaman, an iPhone may seem like an adequate GPS tracking device for basic navigation tasks. However, marine GPS devices have been around longer, have been used with great effectiveness, and hold several key advantages to boaters who need a reliable GPS navigator when taking on the high seas. Hemisphere hopes to take marine GPS consumer technology to the next level with its new line of Vector GPS products.
New GPS Products
Hemisphere’s Vector V103 GPS and Vector V113 GPS compass devices are made specifically for professional and commercial applications at sea—even machine control. The compasses take into account heave, pitch and roll with stunning accuracy and efficiency. These are serious GPS compass devices. According to the company, they are acceptable for use on surveys, tug boats, mining operations, seismic drills, dredging and more. For the marine professional who needs a serious—and seriously accurate—GPS, Hemisphere’s new Vector models might just fit the bill.
The Dedicated GPS Difference
As you can see, the above devices are far more powerful than the common consumer level GPS. The average American consumer’s most powerful GPS device resides in his or her smart phone. Smart phone GPS devices are not dedicated, and as such are simply nowhere near as a powerful even as consumer level dedicated GPS devices. Professional GPS purchasers enjoy the finest and most accurate location technology available for use around the world.
Get Your Bearings on the High Seas or Otherwise
Announced at the Oceanology International Exhibition and Conference, the Vector V103 GPS and Vector V113 GPS compass devices will be available to marine professionals soon. The increased precision and enhanced functionality of these professional devices indicates that Marine GPS machines may represent the absolute cutting edge of what GPS has to offer. The unique situations faced by seamen, including harsh weather conditions, unusual atmospheric conditions, pitch and yaw, requires unique GPS solutions. It appears that Hemisphere has addressed those issues and then some with their new Vector products. It just may be that the future of GPS technology is, in a very literal sense, out to sea. Hemisphere’s Vector products’ technology just might end up in consumer GPS devices.
You love fishing. You go to a lake with some friends, walk in the ice until you find a nice spot. After a few hours, without warning, the ice breaks. You and your friends are adrift, slowly moving away from the shore, and you don’t even know it. In this situation, every minute counts. You need to call the rescue crews ASAP, but you don’t even know you’re in danger!
This situation can be easily avoided with GPS technology. A GPS tracking device can tell you exactly where you are. It can also tell you if you’re not where you’re supposed to be. And it can tell you if you’re moving when you’re not supposed to be moving. In the scenario above, adrift on ice, you would immediately realize that you’re moving by checking your GPS device, enabling you to make a call or send a distress signal right away.
This happened not long ago in New York. Thirty fishermen realized they were adrift when one of them checked his GPS device. “He looked at it and his position had moved about 75 feet, and it dawned on him that the ice must be moving,” said Sgt. Tom Haumann, quoted on The Wall Street Journal online. A large slab of ice broke free and sent them 15 feet away from the shore. Fortunately, most of the fishermen were able to wade to shore. Only one of them needed to be rescued on an air boat.
GPS has been on the news several times over the years with similar stories to this one. A few years ago a young British student, Kimberley Warren, fell from her horse and was injured. Even worse, she was in Russia, very far away from home. Her distress signal was picked up 3,700 miles away. The rescue group knew exactly where she was thanks to GPS technology. “They were able to pinpoint the location of the group right down to an area smaller than half a tennis court,” said Michael Mulford from the Royal Air Force.
Because of GPS tracking technology, lives have been saved and tragedies avoided. Today, a GPS device is as essential to an outdoor enthusiast as a lamp, knife, or a good pair of boots. Going outside is safer than ever, thanks to GPS technology.
Since the dawn of consumer GPS technology, users have been fascinated with the idea of using GPS tracking for outdoor adventures, whether they include hiking, camping, hunting or more. The growing ubiquity of smart phones in United States consumers’ hands has made the possibility for easy GPS tracking to aid in outdoor adventures. Now, Android and iOS users can take their phone’s GPS to the next level with a new app called ViewRanger GPS.
Designed and released by Augmentra Ltd., ViewRanger GPS transforms the user’s smart phone or tablet device into a GPS navigator specifically for use in the outdoors. What is the difference between that and the standard GPS tracking device that comes installed with most tablet computers and smart phones? Where ViewRanger separates itself from the pack is its specificity; the app is supplemented with trail maps, topographical maps with incredible detail, and even offline map storage. Augmentra Ltd. continues to allow users to download maps with extra fine detail for remote hiking destinations around the world. The goal is to turn ViewRanger into the ultimate GPS and computing sidekick for any individual that loves the outdoors.
The app integrates with already published hiking routes easily. Augmentra Ltd. continues to cultivate social networking features in its ViewRanger app, supplementing it with the site My.ViewRanger.com. Using the website in conjunction with the phone or tablet app may make planning outdoor events easier than ever, whether in the United States or anywhere in the world. Users may also download high quality pre-published hiking routes, maps and guides to design the ultimate hiking experience.
ViewRanger has been utilized in the United Kingdom as an aid to Search and Rescue teams. This carefully designed, presumably expert tool may end up becoming the last word when it comes to integrating smart phones and tablets with the outdoors. Tech geeks with an outdoor proclivity may download the app, for a short time, for $4.99 on the Android Market or in the iTunes App Store.
As GPS tracking technology evolves, apps continue to redefine and specify how the technology integrates with nearly every area of our lives. Even in the outdoors, it is quickly becoming more difficult to escape the convenience of modern technology.
There is no denying the impact GPS technology has had on the world. GPS trackingdevices have helped scientists monitor remote wildlife, emergency response teams save lives, and air traffic control navigate the skies. With all the good, it can be easy to lose track of the creepier, more complex consequences of GPS. Unfortunately, the creepy potential is all too familiar to one Ontario local. “I was doing just a regular inspection my truck and I found this black box under my truck … with flashing lights inside,” explained Warsaw, Ont. resident Ben Ferrill. “I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know if it was a bomb. We were scared to death …. It felt like a movie — unreal.”
“We spent lots of nights up until three in the morning crying and talking about it — not sleeping and looking out the windows and being suspicious of vehicles that drive by,” he explained. “Are they following me? Are they watching me? Are they going to try to do something to me? Are they going to try to do something to our family? The fear in finding something like that is unreal.”
Monitoring someone’s movements with a GPS tracking device without their knowledge is illegal. The only exception being for police with a search warrant obtained from a judge. Ferrill contacted police about the device, but they weren’t much help. “The trouble is, we don’t know who is behind this,” said Ferrill’s attorney Ian Wilson. “I’ve also tried to get answers from Kore Wireless and their lawyer but they will tell me nothing,” he continued.
Kore Wireless were even less helpful than the police. “Our customer [U.S. Fleet] is in the United States. They have no responsibility or accountability to provide that information [to Canadian police],” said Alex Brisborn, president of Kore Wireless. The company claims to hold privacy as one of their highest values, and are unwilling to cooperate with police in cases where their customers may be using their product illegally.
“U.S. Fleet Tracking will not under any circumstance make your information or any data specific to your vehicle tracking account available to any third party — including local, state or federal law enforcement authorities … Even if presented with a court order, we promise to fight the courts to keep these information private and respect the privacy of our paying customers,” according to the U.S. Fleet website.
“It’s extremely frustrating to know that [customer] information exists in the U.S. somewhere … and we simply can’t get at it,” said Wilson. “This is a changing environment and steps have to be taken to protect people,” he concludes.
The U.S. Supreme Court, earlier this year, declared that tracking a suspect without a warrant is unconstitutional and in violation of citizens’ Fourth Amendment right to privacy. The decision was seen as a relief to some, and a burden to others. Law enforcement, in particular, are scrambling to determine what constitutes legal use of GPS tracking technology. A couple of bills are floating around the Virginia Senate and House to remedy the lack of legal guidelines around this new technology. Recently, one of these bills gained some traction in the form of sponsoring by Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania).
Reeves, a former police detective, backed the bill which explicitly requires police to obtain a warrant from a judge or magistrate before attaching a GPS tracking device to a suspect’s vehicle. “It just holds law enforcement accountable for that,” explained Reeves. The original bill was significantly revised by members of the Senate Courts of Justice committee. These changes take into account the difficulties of getting a warrant in rural parts of the country, allowing law enforcement to get warrants from circuit judges and general district judges. Sen. Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover) explains, “In rural jurisdiction, that could put some burdens on the system.” Meaning that outside of cities, a circuit judge might not be available or have to recuse him or herself if the warrant is subject to a challenge.
Another major adjustment to the bill was made in regards to notifying the suspect. In most search warrant cases, the suspect is able to view the warrant at the time police conduct the home or vehicle search. GPS tracking, however, is most effective when done without the suspect’s knowledge. Under the revised bill, the suspect is granted a copy of the warrant within 10 days after the tracking is complete. The bill is currently waiting on a decision from the full Senate.
A pilot program has just been announced by Port Metro Vancouver which will install GPS tracking devices on 300 of Vancouver’s trucks in an effort to make both the port and the truckers more efficient. The program, called The Container Truck Efficiency Pilot Program, will last for six months, at which time the data gathered will be evaluated to determine if this is a positive solution.
“Port operations must keep pace with improved technologies that will save time, track movements and improve communication,” said Port Metro Vancouver’s vice president of planning and operations, Peter Xotta. He added, “This is an exciting new program. Thanks to the volunteers from the local container drayage community, we will be able to determine how this technology will have a meaningful, positive impact on daily business operations on the terminal and for the trucking community.”
How does one volunteer for this pilot program? You need only hold a permit or license in their Truck Licensing System. Training will be provided, and cost isn’t an issue. The port has stated installation and the GPS tracking system itself will be provided free of charge.
What does the port hope will happen with this program? It is believed the introduction of the GPS tracking device will prove an important way to send and receive information that will help make the process more efficient. Truckers can be alerted to a traffic jam that they may be approaching and directed around it in real-time. Dispatchers can communicate important route change information easily and instantly, and even see how long each truck had to spend at the terminal, possibly settling the old he-said-she-said disputes. The GPS system can set the record straight, once and for all.
Louise Yako spoke for the B.C. Trucking Association, of which she is the president, in favor of this plan. “With an anticipated increase in container volumes and a looming driver shortage, we need to use every tool available to ensure port intermodal operations are as efficient as they can be. We’re encouraged to see Port Metro Vancouver working in consultation with the container drayage sector, which is a vital link in the Asia Pacific Gateway.”
Shock waves are still rippling through the US legal system after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement agencies must obtain a warrant before tracking suspects with a GPS tracking device. Accused criminals, lawyers, and police are scrambling to see how the ruling may retroactively impact cases that are over a decade old.
One such case involves a serial rapist that attacked women in Tennessee from 1994 to 2008. Robert Jason Burdick was finally tried, convicted and jailed after police carefully built a case against the criminal. Days before his arrest, police secretly installed a GPS tracker on the man’s vehicle.
Throughout the trial, Burdick’s lawyer argued that the accused man’s Constitutional rights were violated by the installation of the GPS. Carrie Gasaway, the attorney that defended Burdick, claimed that evidence obtained by the device was not valid. Her case never made it to the Supreme Court. Burdick remains in jail today.
So, does the recent United States Supreme Court ruling invalidate Burdick’s conviction? Should Burdick be released from jail? Analysts say that Burdick’s release will likely not happen anytime soon.
The evidence used to convict Burdick wasn’t obtained with the GPS tracker. Indeed, law enforcement use of GPS was not common in Tennessee during that time, and police were far from dependent on it in building their case against Burdick. What got Burdick convicted was DNA. The serial rapist’s DNA was taken from crime scenes and matched to DNA taken from silverware the man used at a restaurant. The GPS tracker came into the case late in the game. In fact, the GPS only functioned as apart of an already comprehensive twenty-four hour surveillance process used by police.
The case of the “Wooded Rapist” will likely not be overturned due to the United States Supreme Court ruling regarding GPS tracking warrants. Evidence obtained through GPS tracking was marginal–Burdick would have been proven guilty without it. Because of this, a solid conviction stands, and Burdick remains guilty under the law and incarcerated in the state of Tennessee. Burdick was arrested and convicted thanks to solid, careful, methodical police work. There is no replacement for such fine police work–and Tennessee remains a safer place to live because of that.