KY Drug Task Force Uses Warrantless GPS; Advocates Nettled


A central Kentucky drug task force is using satellite-based tracking devices, sometimes without warrants from judges, to keep track of suspects in their cars, reports the Richmond Register and the Associated Press. Some members of the local legal community are concerned. The Central Kentucky Area Drug Task Force has spent $18,000 on a variety of systems designed to allow officers to track vehicles covertly using GPS satellites.

Task force director Rick Johnson said his agency uses three such devices and has installed them without obtaining warrants. He said he hadn’t even notified the prosecutor of the use of the devices “because he hasn’t asked which cases they’re being used in.”

But prosecutor David Smith said he expected information of that nature to be submitted to his office without prompting. “I would think that it should be included in his case report,” Smith said. Defense attorneys say using the tracking device without a judge’s approval may be skirting the law. “It is disappointing that anyone in law enforcement defends this practice,” said Wes Browne, a former prosecutor now in private practice.

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