How Police Use GPS for Personal and Vehicle Tracking

Police departments all over the country have adopted the use of GPS trackers for a variety of uses, thereby improving performance and reducing expenses. The use of GPS devices provides police departments with real-time information, which helps them to operate more effectively. There are some concerns about privacy when it comes to the use of GPS, however, making it important for police officers to follow appropriate protocols. Let's examine the various ways GPS trackers can be used by police departments and consider the benefits and possible concerns which arise. 

GPS Tracking Devices For Managing a Police Force

There are multiple ways that police can make use of GPS technology in their workdays. For example, placing a GPS unit in police cars can help the police department find better ways to serve the local community. This may include: 

  • Using GPS data to identify which police vehicles are closest to the crime scene 
  • Ensuring that police officers stay within their assigned zones
  • Finding a police offer or police vehicle that goes missing on the job 
  • Using directions and up-to-date traffic information to help police officers get to the scene of a crime or emergency sooner

GPS technology may cause certain concerns to arise, such as lack of privacy or increased policing on the officers themselves, but for many police departments, the benefits of this technology outweigh most objections. 

GPS Trackers Used to Locate Criminals and Gather Evidence 

Another possible use for GPS trackers is using them to fight crime. Police officers may use a GPS tracker in a "slap and track" operation wherein they attach the device to a suspect's vehicle in order to monitor their every move. GPS trackers, including our GPS Asset Tracker with a 3 month battery life, allow for an amount of long-term surveillance that would normally be impossible to conduct without detection. 

Police officers sometimes use GPS devices for uses that don't involve vehicle tracking. For example, GPS trackers can be used to track suspicious cargo, providing valuable guidance for the prosecution. GPS data can also help lead police to stolen or missing vehicles. 

Legal Issues That May Arise With the Use of GPS Trackers

Before using a GPS unit to track a suspect's vehicle, police officers generally need to obtain a warrant. This is because attaching or installing a tracking device on someone else's vehicle is considered to be roughly equivalent to a search. The Fourth Amendment protects against "unreasonable searches" and privacy plays a major role in this concern. While it is unquestionably important for police officers to have and utilize the best tools to locate and apprehend criminals, it is necessary to follow all legal precautions in their use. 

Using GPS trackers and locators for vehicle tracking can help police departments do their job more efficiently and effectively. Recent legal decisions have made it clear that the installation of GPS tracking devices is subject to the protection of the Fourth Amendment, therefore law enforcement needs to take the appropriate precautions and obtain a warrant before using GPS devices for certain purposes. If handled correctly, GPS trackers offer an effective means for police departments to manage their forces, gather evidence, and apprehend criminals.