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TPD Surveillance Update: Plenty of News, But Not Much New Information
The latest on the Tacoma Police surveillance/phone location story is ... not much.
TPD issued a statement saying that all council members were briefed ahead of the purchase of upgraded equipment on its "general capabilities." Kate Martin at The News Tribune reports a little more detail on what Tacoma City Council members remember (or don't) being briefed on.
Most council members don't recall the briefing. Councilmember Thoms remembers something about upgrading a piece of technology used to solve crimes. Councilmember Campbell remembers being told that the technology would allow TPD to continue to use cell phone data to track down suspects, but since it was an update to technology they already had, he assumed the previous Council had vetted it when the original approval was given.
Comments from that previous Council don't shed a whole lot more light on the subject. Last week the Tacoma Weekly published TPD's terse FAQ on the matter, which was equally unenlightening.
Our search of City Council documents from 2007 and 2008 hasn't turned up the original purchase, but the TNT has public records requests in to the City and TPD, so maybe that will reveal more information.
While there doesn't seem to be a lot out there in terms of new information, it hasn't kept other news outlets from picking up on the story. Everyone from The Stranger to USA Today to Al Jazeera America has run the story. Ars Technica this week posted a broader look at the technology behind the Stingray and its recent Hailstorm upgrade - and some of the ethical questions surrounding it.
We've heard the saying that there's no such thing as bad publicity, but does this really seem like good publicity?
Previously from Exit133: Is TPD Playing Big Brother?
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