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Boston police debate costs, benefits of GPS in squad cars

by GPS4US 2013-11-26 15:25

As the Boston Police Department prepares to equip its cruisers with GPS units, some cops are worried
about superiors monitoring their every move, the Boston Globe reports.
Meanwhile, supervisors insist the GPS units will improve police performance and accelerate response
times to critical emergencies.
“We’ll be moving forward as quickly as possible,” Edward F. Davis said in an interview with The Globe
shortly before he resigned as police commissioner Nov. 1. “There are an enormous amount of benefits. .
. . This is clearly an important enhancement and should lead to further reductions in crime.”
Still, officers are resisting the units, citing a potential difficulty in dealing with street sources.
“No one likes it. Who wants to be followed all over the place?” said one officer who spoke to The Globe
anonymously because department rules forbid police from speaking to the media without authorization.
“If I take my cruiser and I meet [reluctant witnesses] to talk, eventually they can follow me and say
why were you in a back dark street for 45 minutes? It’s going to open up a can of worms that can’t be
closed.”
According to Davis, officers won’t be disciplined if they can reasonably explain their location, the
Globe reported. Further, the department can’t discipline officers based on GPS information for the
first six months after installation.
Though the GPS units may keep officers from moving about as freely as they did, that isn’t a bad thing,
Davis told the Globe.
“(Officers) have had a lot of latitude in where they go. It’s a huge change,” Davis said. “Not a lot of
people have this sort of control over them, but I think in our business, because of the safety factor,
the benefit that you derive from knowing where your assets are in an emergency far outweighs any
inconvenience.”
Still, officers point to the potential of making the department vulnerable to high-tech criminals.
“How long is it going to be before some criminal mastermind . . . gets some kids at MIT to figure out
how to break into the GPS system?” one officer said. “Then they know where the cops are and can go rob
banks.”
A spokesperson from the BPD told The Globe that the system is secure from hackers.

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