Baltimore Police Won't Reveal Cell Phone Tracking Device to Judge

| by Michael Allen

A police officer recently refused to tell a judge about the cell phone tracking technology used by the Baltimore Police Department.

Baltimore Police Detective John Haley refused to answer questions from defense attorney Joshua Insley about how cell phones are tracked by the city.

Instead, Detective Haley cited a "nondisclosure agreement" that the city has with the FBI, noted the Baltimore Sun.

However, Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams informed Detective Haley, "You don't have a nondisclosure agreement with the court."

Judge Williams said he would hold Detective Haley in contempt if he didn't answer, but prosecutors suddenly withdrew their evidence to get the officer off the hook.

Newsweek reported earlier this year that a "growing number of police departments are using tower-mimicking devices, 'stingrays,' to track a cell phone’s location and extract call logs."

In this particular case, cops apparently used cell phone tracking technology to track an alleged robber's cell phone to a house. Officers searched the home where they found the cell phone and a handgun allegedly used in the robbery. However, all of that evidence has been withdrawn by prosecutors.

"You can't contract out of constitutional disclosure obligations," Nathan Freed Wessler, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told the Baltimore Sun. "A secret written agreement does not invalidate the Maryland public records law [and] does not invalidate due process requirements of giving information to a criminal defendant."

Earlier this year, the ACLU revealed internal emails exchanged by law enforcement in Florida that showed how police officers are "borrowing cell phone tracking devices known as 'stingrays' from the U.S. Marshals Service—and police are deliberately concealing the use of stingrays in court documents submitted to judges in criminal investigations."

The ACLU has also posted a map showing which states in the U.S. have police departments using cell phone tracking devices.

Sources: Baltimore Sun, ACLU, Newsweek