A lot of chatter over the Charlotte Observer story concerning the use of Stingray, a super tech spy gadget that LE is using across the nation to track and ease drop on thugs and ghetto rats.
Of course the story line is all about constitutional rights and the ever increasing scope of government in the "big brother" age.
But the back story is rather interesting:
As with much of CMPD the budget and expense approval process is all smoke and mirrors.
From the Observer:
"Charlotte City Council voted unanimously without debate in 2012 to spend about $357,000 to update the equipment for CMPD.
Some members now say they don’t remember the vote and do not know much about the surveillance."
Well no surprise there, these folks are actually paid to at least read the motion that is put before them and hopefully understand the facts. But more often than not they approve budget requests without discussion.
Autry said he plans to meet with city attorneys.
"I am a Fourth Amendment kind of guy,” Autry said, referring to constitutional protections. “I have some pertinent questions that will spark some discussion.”
Council member LaWana Mayfield said she would also talk with city attorneys. Mayfield said she did not know about the surveillance technology before she was contacted by a reporter Monday.
The issue is concerning, she said, because since the Sept. 11 attacks “rights that have been taken for granted are being slowly eradicated.”
Senior Assistant City Attorney Judith Emken did not respond to questions on Monday. City Manager Ron Carlee said he could not talk because he was in a meeting.
Cellphones send signals to nearby towers whether they are in use or not. A device city officials call a cell site simulator tricks phones into electronically identifying themselves and transmitting data to police instead of the closest cell tower.
Privacy groups say the equipment is powerful enough to collect cellphone information from an entire apartment building. They claim it gives law enforcement the ability to gather voice, text and other data from phones.
Charlotte officials have refused to divulge details about the city’s equipment but did defend how CMPD uses its cellphone tracker.
CMPD does not capture the voice contents of phone calls, Emken has said. She said officers do not store data that is retrieved.