State Police Acknowledge Use Of Cell Phone Tracking Device

A USA Today and IndyStar investigation found the Indiana State Police purchased a device called a Stringray that captures nearby cell phone data.

Indiana State Police building

Photo: Flickr (peggydavis66)

State Police Captain Dave Bursten responded to the report Wednesday, saying the agency is operating within the bounds of the law.

The Indiana State Police are responding to lawmakers’ and civil rights organizations’ concerns that it is overstepping its boundaries by using a device that can track cell phone calls, text messages and movements within a set radius.

Indiana State Police Captain Dave Bursten said in a statement the department is working well within the bounds of the law.  He says protection of investigation methods is key to the success of building a case.

Bursten won’t say exactly how the technology is used, because he says it would be “like a football team giving up their playbook.”

A joint USA Today and IndyStar investigation found earlier this month that the state police spent $373,995 on a device called a Stingray.

Often installed in a surveillance vehicle, the suitcase-size Stingrays trick all cellphones in a set distance — sometimes exceeding a mile, depending on the terrain and antennas — into connecting to it as if it were a real cellphone tower. That allows police agencies to capture location data and numbers dialed for calls and text messages from thousands of people at a time.

State police officials initially refused to provide any records related to the purchase of the Stingray.

After the IndyStar appealed the denial to the Indiana Public Access Counselor, the Indiana State Police provided a one-page document confirming the purchase of the device but no information about how it is used.

USA Today and the IndyStar also sought records about what are known as “tower dumps,” in which police seek court orders requiring cell phone companies to provide investigators with massive amounts of phone data.

Network Indiana contributed to this report.

Taylor Killough

Taylor Killough is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has studied anthropology and digital journalism. She has professional experience in education and communications and is excited to be a part of the award-winning team at WFIU/WTIU.

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  • SHeadius

    More proof that the police in the USA are the world’s largest organized crime syndicate in the world.

    Dear Indiana State Police,

    FU

    Regards,
    SH

  • pjsx

    i guess protecting and serving now includes violating citizens’ constitutional rights … so sad what this country has become… sadder yet is that the police don’t even see it

  • Pingback: Indiana State Police Acknowledge Use Of Cell Phone Tracking Device | i453ethics

  • Troy Mac

    A public affirmation of adhering to an Oath of Honor is a powerful vehicle demonstrating ethical standards. To be successful at enhancing integrity within an organization, leaders must ensure the oath is recited frequently and displayed throughout the organization as well as ensuring ethical mentoring and role modeling are consistent, frequent and visible. The following Law Enforcement Oath of Honor is recommended as by the International Association of Chiefs of Police as symbolic statement of commitment to ethical behavior:

    On my honor,
    I will never betray my badge,
    my integrity, my character,
    or the public trust.
    I will always have
    the courage to hold myself
    and others accountable for our actions.
    I will always uphold the constitution
    my community and the agency I serve.

    It’s a shame this isn’t really the case.

  • Peter Kuck

    So much for our 4th amendment rights. Someone needs to be sued for this Civil rights violation and he should NOT have the benefit of “qualified immunity”

  • thetruthmaster1

    Its time to place a Citizen Arrest on these LEO Scoflaws who VIOLATE their oath of office to Uphold, Protect and Defend the US Constitution. And sue for the return of tax payer dollars for this illegal activity. What about the company that produces this eaves dropping technology?? Throw them in Prison also for selling it for the use ofan illegal activity. They are no different than a Drug Dealer feeding his Crack Addicts. …

  • Pingback: Bill Would Limit Police Use Of Drones, Surveillance « Everything Drones

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