A Milwaukee police captain recently noticed something that wasn’t right about the satellite tracking antenna on the back of a squad car, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: The small square global positioning system antenna was wrapped in aluminum foil. Foil disables the expensive GPS, essentially making the car invisible to dispatchers. An antenna on a second car also was wrapped in foil. Deputy Chief Dale Schunk, in charge of the patrol division, responded quickly. “This sabotage of our equipment will not be tolerated,” Schunk wrote to his commanders. He ordered that every district begin checks and that he be personally notified of other incidents.
The GPS trackers are part of an $18 million radio and communications upgrade the department has been installing since 2004. The department has added the GPS systems on about one fourth of the 650 squad cars. Dispatchers use the system to track the location of squad cars so they can send them more quickly to calls and to rush help if an officer is down. Officers have talked about GPS being used as a way for internal investigators to build cases against them. Assistant Chief Leslie Barber was fired two years ago after investigators put a GPS on his car and found that he was living outside Milwaukee. John Balcerzak, president of the Milwaukee Police Association, said the union supports the system as a way to protect officers.