Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) - After a week of reports about technology the Erie County Sheriff's Department has purchased that enables it to monitor cell phones within the county, the department is speaking out and defending its legal and constitutional use of the technology. The flurry of reports about the technology has led to a hearing on the issue Thursday at the next Public Safety Committee meeting in Erie County Hall.
Sheriff Tim Howard released the following statement regarding the technology that has been the subject of much speculative reports:
The Erie County Sheriff’s Office owns and operates certain technologies with cellular device locating capabilities. The Sheriff’s Office does not, nor ever has, owned or operated any technology that allows for the interception of cell phone calls or text messages. Any cellular device locating technology owned or utilized by the Sheriff’s Office does not collect any data beyond that of the target phone. Utilization of this technology is only done so with appropriate judicial or legal authority or in instances when life is immediately at stake.
Cellular device locating technology utilized by this Office has resulted in the location of 5 missing persons, two suicidal individuals as well as 13 violent felonies in progress including one bank robbery, four murders and one abduction and rape. This technology was most recently used in the Town of Boston shootout where two Sheriff’s vehicles were shot-up and two Officers nearly killed.
As the Sheriff of Erie County, I will use all legal and Constitutional means at my disposal to protect our residents and my Officers. An important part of protecting our community and the fine men and women of law enforcement, is not to disclose to those who would do us harm, the techniques we utilize to catch them.
I don't believe the Sheriff. Its time our phones , computers, etc., have a way of letting us know they're being 'tapped' and allow us supposedly free citizens the option of blocking the intrusion. Like Life Alert for identity theft. Also, there should be a site for local and federal 'tapping' whereas an individual can enter their cell phone #, or computer # to review what has been collected with the option to delete.
What could go wrong?
Right wing zealots with guns spying on American citizens? No worries! Wasn't long ago this station was cheerleading the neocons.
What if your cell phone is on through your blue tooth in car. They are still going to pull you over?