Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Fail To See the Problem Here...

Lowell Police Union Fights GPS Units In Cruisers
Lowell police are fighting a proposal to have GPS tracking devices installed in cruisers.

"Clearly, we want to make sure that our police officers are doing what they're supposed to be doing," said Lowell City Manager Bernard Lynch. "If we can make them more efficient and safer, I think that's certainly a worthy goal."

Can someone, anyone, explain to me why we aren't already doing this en masse? I mean, other than the fact that the unions go bugnuts apeshit when it looks like their drones might actually have to work for a living, that is. Seriously. It's town equipment - what possible reason can the patrolman's union give for opposing this? They're not asking the police officers to get RFID chips or anything here; what they're asking is that each police car be equipped with a GPS unit to keep tabs on the location of the cruiser.

In the court of public opinion, it would seem that the opposition to this mandate stems from folks that don't want to be tracked. The question that needs to be asked, of course, is why? This same union has already fought efforts to put GPS units in city-owned snowplows, so obviously dodging oversight is a recurring theme here. I can think of no possible reason to fight this effort other than the folks being tracked are systematically doing something other than which they are paid to be doing.

If it's town equipment, not your own private equipment, what's the issue? It's been fought on the grounds of being "intrusive" - well, yeah, your boss wanting to know what the hell you're doing when you're supposed to be working is kind of intrusive, isn't it? This is one of those cases where you have to stand back in awe of the power of the union - that this is even a matter for debate is a testament to the power organized labor yields. That they can stop such a common sense measure cold is one of the many reasons they have outlived their usefulness - they are no longer rallying for the right of workers to be treated fairly, but to avoid even the most basic of oversight.

Besides, as the police are fond of telling us gun owners as we submit our fingerprints, if you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about...

That is all.


RobertM said...

Wow, that is really pathetic. How can you trust a police force that panics at the thought of being tracked in their CITY owned vehicles?

Bob S. said...


I'll offer up some possible (though not plausible) reasons not to have GPS in the cars.

1.) The system can be hacked by criminals and the location of the cruisers be determined for an ambush or avoidance after a crime.

2.)The public will want to see where cops are spending their time to see if one area of town is getting more coverage then another....and not correlate this with the crime stats.

3.) Supervisors will use it to justify attempts to fire officers on patrol for the slightest violation of regulations. Of course the reporting and disciplinary actions based on this violations will be unfairly handled - favorites get a break, trouble makers get no slack.

Now, that out of the way; are any of these reasons sufficient to keep the GPS out of the cars?


The Big Guy said...

Expounding on what BobS said...

It would be hard to make something fool-proof enough to keep some enterprising hacker from finding a way to exploit the info-
Either by selling/providing the info to the Criminal Element for obvious reasons, or the Newspapers/Media for sensationalist exploitation. (Hmmm. Criminal ... Media... isn't that the same thing?)

In any case-
If truckers and other over-the-road vehicles can be required to have them, so can any city vehicle... And of course there will be a certain amount of "unexplained breakage" that would have to be addressed upon installation- if your hardware is "broken" twice, 1) you pay for the second and any thereafter regardless of reason or cause, 2) after a threshold number- you are willingly subverting the process and you should be disciplined/fired.
Unfortunately- police are well versed in circumvention of laws/rules/standards of morality (after all, they hang around with criminals all day) and will find a way to spoof or otherwise scam the process.

Don't hold your breath.


Old NFO said...

LOL- Unions... sigh...

Mark said...

"Besides, as the police are fond of telling us gun owners as we submit our fingerprints, if you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about..."

Goose, gander.

Whatta ya think?

Did it MY way said...

You can never seem to find a cop when you want one...so the city should be no different.

See Ya

B Smith said...

The whole purpose for GPS in snowplows and cruisers, as I understand it, is so that a dispatcher can disperse and route assets to deal with problems far more efficiently and effectively.
i.e., it saves the municipality a metric ass-load of money.
I'd say that anyone opposing this is not just lobbying for more goof-off time for employees (costing me and thee more money), but casting their vote for inefficient, redundant, and ineffective 'service' (costing me and thee a huge fortune.)

Mike W. said...

The cop cars around here have all had Lo-Jack installed in them for years.

All State-Owned vehicles have it now, so they know if you're using it for non-work purposes.

Good thing that wasn't the case when my pops had one.

bluesun said...

My argument against it would be: any compromise is a bad compromise. "Those willing to give up liberty..." etc. etc.

If the police have to do it, pretty soon everyone will have to do it (though what with the on*star and everything, we may already be pretty far down that path).

But then, it can definitely be argued the other way.

Casey said...

You could also argue that once they start collecting data, then they'll have people with no clue about what's going on analyze it, and make recommendations on how to increase efficiency. I can just see a patrolman called into the brass' office while a beancounter conducts his interrogation as to why you spent 27.3 minutes in one spot after your last call writing up your incident report when officers B, C, and D only took 13.9 minutes to write their incident reports up.

There's room for abuse at both ends. That being said, numerous agencies across the country have had GPS installed for years with only minor problems from what I've heard. Of course, most people are resistant to change, and Unions even more so unless that change is clearly in their favor and comes with fringe benefits....


MedicMatthew said...

To a degree a couple of commenters touch on the problem.

Back before I was MedicMatthew I was PoliceCommunicationsOfficerMatthew (read: dispatcher, evidence technician, report writer, computer guru, detective's bitch & departmental bringer of the snark). I have mixed feelings on the subject.

GPS devices in public safety vehicles can be both a good thing. Ambulance A is due for the next call, but there's a cardiac arrest less than two blocks from where Ambulance B is, it only seems logical to send Ambulance B as the primary unit.

It can also be a pain in the ass, the MDT in my ambulance sounds an alarm when the vehicle hits about 73mph on the interstate and when you hit 75mph a "ticket" is generated and emailed to the operations manager which requires me to explain that I told my partner to get our ass down the interstate to the hospital with the patient that is actively trying to die on my stretcher while I'm starting lines, adjusting drips & interpreting cardiac rhythms.

The down side is that the GPS data is discoverable and is one more tool that ignorant, mouth breathing*, cockbags can attempt to use in a civil suit which is usually frivolous & unfounded and wastes even more taxpayer money.

*Is mouth breathing supposed to be hyphenated?

ParatrooperJJ said...

Simple solution, plug a GPS jammer into the lighter socket when you don't want to be tracked. "Oops sorry boss, I must have been in a no signal area."