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Privacy Police: Sense-Enhancing Technology and the Future of Intelligence-Led Policing

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 76 Issue: 10 Dated: October 2009 Pages: 142,144,146,147
Joseph A. Schafer; Thomas J. Martinelli
Date Published
October 2009
4 pages
This article draws lessons for intelligence-led policing from the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Kyllo v. United States, which held that the warrantless use of thermal imaging in detecting an unusual amount of waste heat emanating from above the suspect's garage was unconstitutional, because it involved the electronic penetration of the wall of the suspect's house, thus violating his expectation of privacy.
The majority opinion in this case compels law enforcement agencies and their trainers - whether in narcotics, homicide, or intelligence - to revisit their investigative procedures and privacy guidelines, recognizing that they cannot use various technologies to cut corners or abandon the traditional policing techniques that courts have approved for years. Regardless of the current threats and dangers posed by terrorism, law enforcement agencies have not been given a license to circumvent the fourth amendment. Law enforcement agencies must review, research, and rewrite their privacy policies and restructure their training curriculums in order to incorporate constitutionally mandated parameters for collecting and using personal identifying information on citizens targeted for intelligence gathering. Information collected on individuals, no matter how incriminating and useful it may be in protecting the public from harm, cannot finally be used in the courts for a criminal conviction of that individual unless the information collected was by means that did not violate the constitutional rights of the targeted individual. The legal challenges of balancing the rights of the individual to privacy versus society's right to be protected from the next terrorist act or major crime threat must be addressed in order for intelligence-led policing to be effective. 10 notes