Android Permissions

Every once in a while I'll receive an email from an Android user asking why my app is requesting certain permissions. The short answer is, "I don't know why." If it's not clear enough, I am in law enforcement. If it is a federal offense for me to secretly monitor phone calls or listen in on your conversations, why would you think I care what you have to say? Paranoid? In an effort to satisfy the Android community, here is a list of permissions and why I suspect they are being requested:

INTERNET - Allows the app to create network sockets and send/receive data to/from the Internet.
ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION - Allows the app to access approximate location from location providers using network sources such as cell tower and Wi-Fi. This is required for EvidenceCam and
GPS Coordinates to function.
ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION - Allows the app to access precise location sources such as Global Positioning System on the device. This is required for
EvidenceCam and GPS Coordinates to function.
WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE - Allows the app to write to the USB storage and/or to the SD card.
ACCESS_NETWORK_STATE - Allows the app to view information about the network connections such as which networks exist and are connected. This information is also used in analytics and statistics.
READ_PHONE_STATE - Allows the app to access the phone features of the device. An app with this permission can determine the phone number and serial number of the phone, whether a call is active, the number that call is connected to and the like.
RECORD_AUDIO - Allows the Audio Recorder feature to function using the device's microphone.
CAMERA - Allows
EvidenceCam to function using the device's camera.
CHECK_LICENSE - My app has licensing enabled to prevent users from sharing it for free.
C2D_MESSAGE - Enables users to receive my Push Notifications
RECEIVE - Enables users to receive my Push Notifications
WAKE_LOCK - I have no clue.
READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE - Allows the app to read to the USB storage and/or to the SD card.

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Appeals Court Strikes Down Cincinnati Residency Ordinance

The First District Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling from the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas that struck down a Cincinnati city ordinance prohibiting city employees from living outside the state of Ohio.

In a unanimous decision authored by Judge Patrick Dinkelacker, the court affirmed a decision by the court of common pleas that granted summary judgment in favor of Cincinnati Organized and Dedicated Employees in a case where the city had filed a declaratory judgment action asking the court to declare the city ordinance (Cincinnati Municipal Code 308-83) to be lawful.

The court found that the city ordinance was in conflict with a 2006 state law, R.C. 9.481, that was upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court in 2009.

In describing the state statute, Dinkelacker wrote: “R.C. 9.481 is entitled ‘Political subdivisions generally prohibited from imposing residency requirements on employees.’ Subsection (A) is a definitional section. R.C. 9.481(B)(1) states that ‘[e]xcept as otherwise provided in division (B)(2) of this section, no political subdivision shall require any of its employees, as a condition of employment, to reside in any specific area of the state.’ Subsection (B)(2)(b) provides an exception that permits localities to require certain employees to live no farther away than adjacent counties to ‘ensure adequate response times by certain employees of political subdivisions to emergencies or disasters while ensuring that those employees generally are free to reside throughout the state[.]’ Finally, subsection (C) states that ‘[e]xcept as provided in division (B)(2) of this section, employees of political subdivisions of this state have the right to reside any place they desire.’

Judge Dinkelacker concluded: “…[W]e hold that Cincinnati Municipal Code 308-83(a) is in conflict with R.C. 9.481, and it is, therefore, void.”

The opinion was joined by Judges J. Howard Sundermann and Sylvia Sieve Hendon.

Cincinnati v. State, 2012-Ohio-3162
Civil Appeal From: Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas
Judgment Appealed From Is: Affirmed
Date of Judgment Entry on Appeal: July 13, 2012

Will there ever be an iPad app?

Original Posting 11/27/2011:
In short, the answer is yes. But lets not forget that all iPhone apps are available on the iPad and can be viewed using the 2x button. Considering this, why would I direct time and money to implement something that already exists when the time and money can be spent developing new features? This seems to be the most logical direction to take since the app can already be loaded in the iPad. However, I do concede that from a purely aesthetic perspective, the app needs to be formatted for iPad use; especially since new cruiser MDTs are taking the form of tablets. But when? Well, this is entirely dependent upon sales. The greater the sales, the faster I can complete my projects, which results in the faster implementation of a iPad version.

Update 5/14/2012:
Certain portions of the app are slowly being converted to iPad format. Once the main features are converted to iPad, the contents itself should be easy to transfer. I still don't anticipate the full conversion any time soon, but rest assured, I am working on it.

Apparent Authority Doctrine

Yesterday I was asked if a driver's consent to search their vehicle also includes the passenger's belongings within the vehicle; more specifically, purses left behind. Most officers are familiar with the ruling that upon receiving consent, police have the authority to search everything located within the vehicle including closed containers, purses, pagers, cell phones, etc. United States v. Galante, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12376 and United States v. Ferrer-Montoya, 483 F.3d 565, 568 (8th Cir. 2007). However, it's not that simple and is entirely dependent upon the officer's reasonable belief that the the individual giving consent has either actual or apparent authority over the item(s) to be searched. If the individual does not have the requisite authority, the item may not be searched.
  • The apparent authority doctrine dictates that an officer cannot search the contents of passengers belongings upon receipt of consent from the driver unless it is apparent that the driver has authority to grant consent to search those belongings (i.e. a male driver consenting to search the vehicle does not include the female passenger's purse left behind in the vehicle).
  • With regard to actual authority to consent, a valid consent may be given by a third party who possesses common authority over the property at issue, which is generally shown by joint access or control of the property for most purposes.
    • A person possessing common authority has the authority to consent to a search. This common authority rests upon mutual use of the property and joint access or control to the location or item(s) searched. United States v. Matlock, 415 U.S. 164 (1974)
    • When officers obtain valid third-party consent, they are not also required to seek consent from a defendant, even if he is detained nearby. U.S. v. Amratriel, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 21166, October 14, 2010
    • The consent by one party to the seizure of property shared equally is valid even when the other party is present and refuses consent. U.S. v. King, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 8970 (April 30, 2010). The Georgia v. Randolph, 126 S. Ct. 1515 (2006), holding that the consent of one party with authority is trumped by the refusal of another present party with authority is limited to searches and seizures of the home, not property.

Case Example 1United States v. Welch, 4 F.3d 761 (9th Cir. 1993)
The driver gave consent to search his rental car. A female passenger in the vehicle had a purse stored in the trunk. Upon opening the purse, the police discovered $500.00 in counterfeit bills. The woman appealed her conviction, claiming that the police had illegally searched her purse without probable cause or valid consent. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, noting that the key issue in the case was not whether the driver could consent to a search of the vehicle generally, but rather whether the driver “had the authority, either actual or apparent, to give effective consent to the search of his companion’s purse.” Id. at 764 (emphasis in original)(footnote omitted)

"By sharing access to and use of the car with McGee, Welch relinquished, in part, her expectation of privacy in the vehicle. McGee’s voluntary consent to a search is sufficient to waive Welch’s Fourth Amendment interests in the car. Welch’s purse is another matter entirely. The fact that she had a limited expectation of privacy in the car by virtue of her sharing arrangement with McGee does not mean that she had similarly limited privacy expectation in items within the car which are independently the subject of such expectations. The shared control of ‘host’ property does not serve to forfeit the expectation of privacy in containers within that property. Id. (citation omitted)"

Case Example 2People v. James, 163 Ill.2d 302, 317 (1994)
The defendant was a passenger in a car that was stopped by officers of the Urbana police department. The officers directed the driver and the passengers to step out of the car. When the defendant exited the car, she left her purse on the front, passenger-side seat of the car. One of the officers then escorted the defendant away from the car. Although the defendant was not aware of it, the driver of the car agreed to a police search of the car.  During this search, the officer opened and looked into defendant’s purse, where they found cocaine.

The Defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence found by police officers during the search of her purse. She argued that she had not consented to the search and that the driver lacked the authority to consent to a search of her purse. The State argued that the police officer may have incorrectly assumed that the purse belonged to the driver of the car.  Therefore, the State contended that the driver had the apparent authority to consent to a search of the defendant’s purse. The State further asserted that defendant assumed the risk that the driver of the car in which she was riding would agree to a police search of the car and its contents, including defendant’s purse. The State argues that it would be impractical to require police officers to “inquire of all of the occupants of an automobile whether they consent to the search of their belongings, and then sort out and classify all of those belongings.”

The appellate court determined that the issue on appeal was whether the driver had the apparent authority to give effective consent to the search of her companion’s purse. The court held that the officer should have ascertained who owned the purse he found in the car before he opened and searched the contents of the purse. The court further observed that it would have been objectively reasonable for the law enforcement officer to realize that the purse might belong to one of the passengers rather than to the driver.  A purse is normally carried by a woman, and all of the adult occupants of the vehicle were women.  Thus, the purse could logically have belonged to any one of the three adult women in the car.  The purse was found on a passenger seat in the car, not on the driver’s seat, thereby tending to the conclusion that the purse belonged to the passenger, not the driver.  It would have been unreasonable for the officer to believe that driver shared some common use in the purse with one of the passengers in the car, since a purse is generally not an object for which two or more persons share common use and authority. Therefore, the court held that the officer acted unreasonably when he proceeded to search the closed purse, although he was ignorant of the identity of the owner of the purse.

Other Cases 
State v. Vantreese, No. 03-00076 APANO (Fla. 6th Cir. App. Ct. April 23, 2004). It was not reasonable for the deputy to assume that the driver had the apparent authority to consent to the passenger’s purse – passenger’s purse suggested individual ownership requiring consent before the search.

State v. Friedel, 714 N.E.2d 1231 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999). Based upon the driver’s consent to search the vehicle, the police searched the passenger’s purse found on the floor behind the driver’s seat, where the passenger had been sitting. Id. at 1235. The court found that it was not objectively reasonable for the police to believe that the driver had the authority to consent to search the purse because it was a woman’s handbag and the passenger was the only female occupant of the car. Id. at 1240. The court further ruled that the passenger’s consent to the search could not be implied from her silence or failure to object because she had never been asked for consent. Id. at 1241.

Pat-Down of Cruiser Passengers

First, allow me to reiterate the law does not allow for "searches" of persons unless 1) you have a warrant; 2) you have consent; 3) the search is made incident to arrest; or 4) the search is qualified by a pat-down revealing a possible weapon. Many recent convictions have been overturned because the officer used the term "search" in their testimony when they were actually describing a pat-down or frisk.

Addressing the topic at-hand, police are not entitled to pat-down a person, absent reasonable suspicion the person may be armed, simply because they have stopped that person pursuant to a lawful Terry stop and placed that person as a passenger in their cruiser. However, in
United States v. McCargo, 464 F.3d 192 (2d Cir. 09/13/2006) the court held in cases where the police may lawfully transport a suspect in the rear of a police car, the police may carry out a departmental policy, imposed for reasons of officer safety, by patting down that person. Because the police must have a legitimate law-enforcement reason to transport a suspect, the court saw little danger that policies such as these might be used as a pretext for a suspicionless frisk.

I also want to point out the decision in
U.S. v Muhammad, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 9575 (May 11, 2010), which held that an officer may remove all suspicious objects from a persons pocket for inspection to determine if the object is a weapon or concealing a weapon. Muhammad contended that because Agent McCrary knew that the object in Muhammad's back pocket was not a weapon or an object concealing a weapon, Agent McCrary could not lawfully remove the wallet from Muhammad's pocket. The record did not support this assertion. Agent McCrary testified that during a pat-down search it is often difficult to tell whether an object is a weapon or might conceal a weapon merely by touching the object. He stated that officers must generally "pull the suspicious object out and actually inspect it" to determine whether the object presents a safety concern. He further testified that he was not certain what the hard four-inch long and three-inch wide object in Muhammad's pocket was, but he said that the item "felt like an object that could conceal a weapon.” The court ruled this pat-down search stayed within the bounds of Terry, and the Fourth Amendment permitted Agent McCrary to remove the object from Muhammad's pocket.

Other Noteworthy Pat-Down Cases

Arizona v. Johnson, No. 07–1122 (2009). Police officers have leeway to frisk a passenger in a car stopped for a traffic violation even if nothing indicates the passenger has committed a crime or is about to do so. The justices accepted Arizona's argument that traffic stops are inherently dangerous for police and that pat-downs are permissible when an officer has a reasonable suspicion that the passenger may be armed and dangerous. The pat-down is allowed if the police “harbor reasonable suspicion that a person subjected to the frisk is armed, and therefore dangerous to the safety of the police and public,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said.

U.S. v. Baker, 78 F.3d 135, 137 (4th Cir. 1996). An officer may dispense with a pat-down of a person and direct the suspect to lift his shirt. When an officer has reasonable suspicion, this technique will always be less intrusive (because it is only searching one area of the body and the officer does not have to put his hands on the suspect) than a traditional frisk and consequently be justified.

United States v. Walker, Nos. 08-4680/4682, 2010 U.S. LEXIS 16684 (6th Cir. Decided August 12. 2010). If officers believe a suspect is armed, officers may search the contents of their bags.

United States v. Bustos-Torres, 396 F.3d 935, 943 (8th Cir. 2005). Police officers may perform a pat-down search of an individual upon reasonable suspicion that they may be armed and dangerous. . . ."A suspicion on the part of police that a person is involved in a drug transaction supports a reasonable belief that the person may be armed and dangerous because weapons and violence are frequently associated with drug transactions.

U.S. v. Meadows, 571 F.3d 131 (1st Cir. 2009). Although officers may not use handcuffs routinely during investigatory stops, officers are permitted to use handcuffs to protect themselves and others. Officers may handcuff a suspect within the scope of a valid investigatory stop if they reasonably believe the suspect is armed. An officers’ decision to handcuff a suspect before conducting the pat-frisk did not convert the stop into a de facto arrest.


Why aren't we replacing our Toughbooks with iPads?

Why aren't we replacing our Toughbooks with iPads? Replacing your in-cruiser Toughbooks with iPads would save you thousands while providing more resources. I could go on and on about the pros of having an iPad in cruisers over laptops...cost, portability, wireless connectivity, speed, apps, GPS location of officer, etc. They have RAM and ProClip docking mounts for iPads and using the free iBooks app, you can easily have all of your policies in PDF format in make them searchable. They also have apps for the Emergency Response Guidebook ($5), state laws ($5), Voice Translator ($3), EvidenceCam ($2), FI-Pad ($5), Police Scanner ($5), Vehicle Identification Systems ($2), Crime Scene Floor Plans (Free), Sex Offender Search (Free), etc. I also have the privilege to know of some other major apps in the works by other major organizations that will do nothing but provide the best tools for law enforcement.

Although not technically "app legal," you can download all these apps on all of your agency's devices while only paying for each app once (just use a single app store login and sync all devices). Using the same Apple ID would also allow for officers to know the GPS location of each officer using Find My iPhone (Free), which also allows for alerts to be sent to the devices. There are a couple CAD apps available to allow officers to compose their written reports and receive their dispatches via the iPad, including LawSoft and SafetyNet.

Get rid of the Windows crashworthy Touchbooks and buy your agency some iPads. A better product at a cheaper cost!
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Smart-Savvy Cops are Speeding Up Law Enforcement

Sunday, April 8, 2012


AMHERST — When Jacob Morris was hired at Lorain Police Department seven and a half years ago, a colleague advised him to buy manila folders and stuff all the reference material he could into a duffel bag to stash in his cruiser.

Now he’s ditched the duffel bag, and replaced it with a smart phone, holding more information than ever filled his file folders.

“As a police officer, it helps you find things quicker and take action quicker,” said Morris, now a detective, said about how the smart phone has changed his job.

The smart phone has become a mobile toolbox for officers, eliminating the need to bring a camera, tape recorder, GPS or file folders on the road. In particular, Ohio Cop application is condensing all the resources police use to a single app that is accessed with a tap of their fingertips.

Amherst Detective Zac Horning said the app and others on his iPhone save him time and effort when out on the road.

“It just makes it easier, the more you can know, the right then and there, the better,” he said.

Horning said word of the Ohio cop app spread like wildfire around the police station. “Just about everybody here has it. Once somebody got it, they spread the word,” he said. The department pays for phone service for supervisors and detectives, but they have to buy their own phone and any apps that go along with it.

Frustrated with lack of legal knowledge amongst law enforcement officers, Columbus law enforcement officer Mark Brooks developed The Ohio Cop app to educate officers, Brooks wrote on his website. He also developed a U.S. Cop app to assist officers in other states across the nation. The app is loaded with information about Ohio laws, warrants, training and law enforcement news. The app is packed with handy tools such as an Internet address convertor that allows officers to trace an IP address back to a location. The app also has a mobile link to OH-LEG, Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway. The mobile portal allows officers to look up driver license photos, addresses, license plates and other pieces of information that can lead to an arrest.

Screen Shot 2012-04-08 at 11.20.36 PM

“When we’re in the field, it comes in handy if we’re looking for somebody,” Horning said. “We can find out who owns a vehicle or find out where a person may be at.”

Lorain Police Lt. Mark Carpentiere uses OH-LEG on his smart phone and can remember a time in the 1990s when officers had to write a letter to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in Columbus to get a driver’s license photo mailed to them in two to three weeks to investigate a suspect. After that, officers still had to go back to the station to pick up a photo and then take it to the scene to ID suspects. Now OH-LEG mobile eliminates the car trip and the frustration. “It’s so nice to be able to pull up a picture or get an address,” Carpentiere said.

As a detective, Morris spends a lot of time out on the road. The app allows him to conduct an interview, gather evidence and type up the report at the scene. That way, he can type up the report while he’s doing surveillance or sitting in court, so his desk work is done by the time he gets back to the office.

“I can spend more time in the field investigating things or making contact with a suspect,” Morris said. He added that he can use tools such as the evidence camera to label and time stamp evidence photos and then send them back to his computer. That way, he doesn’t have to waste time at his desk back at the office.

Morris has also ditched carrying around drug reference books and now uses his phone to ID illegal pills. Years ago, officers had to take pills seized from suspects to a pharmacy, to the station or call Poison Control to determine their identity. Now with the help of the Ohio Cop app, police can type in the number on the pill, color and shape and immediately learn if it is a illegal substance.

Morris likes that the app aggregates content that is already out there. “There’s no secret stuff,” he said. “Everything is public record that helps a police officer became more efficient at their job.”

Horning said the smart phone in general can help make arrests speedier. If an officer catches up with a shoplifting suspect and wants to verify its the right person, the officer came snap a photo, email it to an officer with the witnesses and have witnesses identify the suspect.

Other apps are helpful, too. Morris uses tape a talk to replace a recorder and Quick Office to replace a computer to type reports.

With a quarter of the population being Hispanic in Lorain, Horning uses Google Translate to type a question in English and have it converted to Spanish. If you turn the phone sideways, the word gets bigger, making it easier to read. Horning said there’s also a button that plays audio of the Spanish translation. The department has a volunteer interpreter, but when the person is not available, Horning said using his iPhone is a good idea. He also uses a Vehicle Identification app that allows him to ID the year, make and color of a vehicle. Overall the smart phone is increasing efficiency and allowing officers to take action quicker that can lead to arrests quicker than before. “It gives you more at your fingertips than you had before,” Horning said.

Link to article


FBI for LEOs

We all know how slow the government can be. I got tired of waiting for the feds to come out with an iPad app for the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin and FLETC Federal Law Enforcement Informer and decided to make one myself. Their publications are free and so is my app…enjoy!

This iPad app contains the most recent 24 issues of both publications and will automatically sync upon new editions being added for public release. Just to forewarn you, the app is large…65.3 MB in size.

Click to view in Apple App Store


Amazon, Kindle, and Blackberry Update

Amazon has approved almost all of my apps for their App Store but all apps go through a separate review process for Kindle. Amazon has declined to add almost every app to the Kindle store citing “app will not install”. Because of this extremely detailed explanation, I will not be adding my apps to Kindle until they can communicate a little better to specifically state what the issue is.

As for Blackberry, they have indicated only 4 issues (very detailed and specific) with the apps, which I am hoping can be addressed in the very near future. This is, however, entirely up to my hosting service to determine if they’ll incorporate the changes Blackberry requested they make.
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Warrantless Attachment of GPS to Vehicles

There appears to be confusion regarding the application of U.S. v. Jones and the warrantless attachment of a GPS tracking device to vehicles. In Jones, “The Government physically occupied private property for the purpose of obtaining information. We have no doubt that such a physical intrusion would have been considered a ‘search’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment when it was adopted.” Therefore, the Court held that the use of the GPS was a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.

Jones, the government had a warrant for the placement of the GPS device but the warrant expired by one day prior to the placement of the device. Therefore, the Court DID NOT address whether a warrant was even required since warrant had expired and was therefore moot. Instead of arguing the search was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, the government argued that placement of the GPS on the car was not a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. However, during oral arguments, the government tried to argue the search was reasonable. This argument was not addressed by the Court. Therefore, the Court DID NOT address that even if placement of a GPS device is a search, such a search would be unreasonable to conduct without a warrant. The Court noted:

“The Government argues in the alternative that even if the attachment and use of the device was a search, it was reasonable--and thus lawful--under the Fourth Amendment because “officers had reasonable suspicion, and indeed probable cause, to believe that [Jones] was a leader in a large-scale cocaine distribution conspiracy.” We have no occasion to consider this argument. The Government did not raise it below, and the D. C. Circuit therefore did not address it. We consider the argument forfeited.” (cites omitted).

As it has always been understood, when in doubt, get a warrant. But know the precedent established in United States v. Knotts, 460 U.S. 276 (1983) and United States v. Karo, 468 U. S. 705 (1984) still applies, which held that the warrantless monitoring of signals (beeper and wireless phone pings) inside an automobile traveling on public roads did not violate the Fourth Amendment because it did not reveal any information that was not also available through visual surveillance. However, Knotts and Karo are different then Jones in that the beeper had been placed in the container before it came into the defendants’ possession, with the consent of the then-owner. 460 U. S., at 278. Knotts did not challenge that installation, and the Court declined to consider its effect on the Fourth Amendment analysis. Id., at 279, n. However, in Karo, the installation was challenged. As in Knotts, at the time the beeper was installed the container belonged to a third party, and it did not come into possession of the suspect until later. 468 U. S., at 708. Thus, the specific question the Court considered was whether the installation “with the consent of the original owner constitute[d] a search or seizure . . . when the container is delivered to a buyer having no knowledge of the presence of the beeper.” Id., at 707 (emphasis added). The U.S. Supreme Court held not.

Conclusion: To date, there has been no U.S. Supreme Court decision that has established whether the placement of GPS device to the undercarriage of a vehicle, absent a warrant and in a public place, amounts to a "search" in violation of the Fourth Amendment. However, there have been multiple Federal Circuit Court decisions that support such placement:

United States v. Sparks, 750 F.Supp.2d 384 (2010), the court held that U.S. v. Moore's 1977 holding that probable cause is required for the installation of a tracking device, is no longer good law following the U.S. Supreme Court's 1983 holding in U.S. v. Knotts. District Court Justice Young commented that “where the use of a tracking device serves only as a technological substitute for an otherwise legal activity, it must remain constitutionally sound.” Knotts at 284. In Sparks, FBI agents attached a GPS unit to a suspected bank robber's vehicle. The Court ruled that the suspect had neither a subjective expectation of privacy in the open air parking lot (where GPS was affixed), the exterior of the vehicle, or the movement of his vehicle on the streets. Id. at 396. With the absence of any reasonable expectation of privacy, the Court indicated that no warrant or court order was needed to install or monitor the GPS. Id.

Morton v. Nassau County Police Department, 2007 WL 4264569 (E.D.N.Y. ), plaintiff’s brought a civil rights claim against police alleging the warrantless installation and use of a GPS violated her Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. Nassau County Police had attached a GPS device to plaintiff’s vehicle based upon previous sightings at residential burglaries. The Court cited approvingly to U.S. v. Knotts, “a person traveling in an automobile on public thoroughfares has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements from one place to another.” Knotts at 281. The Court noted “the use of the GPS device did not permit the discovery of any information that could not have been obtained by following an automobile traveling on public roads either physically or through visual surveillance, conduct that neither requires a warrant nor implicated Fourth Amendment rights.” Id. at 282. In continuing to follow Knotts the Court held there was no reasonable expectation of privacy in one’s movements on public ways, and thus there was no search, seizure or Fourth Amendment implication by mere placement of a GPS device. at 4. See also U.S. v. Moran, 349 F.Supp. 2d 425 (N.D. N.Y. 2005).

The Fifth Circuit standard for the warrantless installation of an electronic tracking device is an “intermediate standard”, requiring law enforcement officers to have reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot.
United States v. Michael, 645 F.2d 252 (5th Cir. 1981). In U.S. v. Michael, the Fifth Circuit held that DEA’s warrantless attachment of an electronic tracking device, to the exterior of a suspect’s vehicle while parked in a public place, based upon reasonable suspicion was sufficient to reduce any Fourth Amendment concerns. Id. at 257. The 5th Circuit en banc, noted expressly “...under the facts presented, the installation of the beeper was permissible, even if we assume the installation was a search.” Id. at 256. Thus in the Fifth Circuit in an abundance of caution, ruled that the warrantless GPS installation should be based upon reasonable suspicion that the suspect (vehicle) is involved in criminal activity.

The Seventh Circuit has continually held that there is
no search or seizure under the 4th Amendment when police attach a GPS tracking device underneath a suspect’s vehicle, that does not draw power from the engine or battery, does not take up room occupied by passengers or packages, and does not alter the vehicles appearance. See, United States v. Garcia, 474 F.3d 994 (7th Cir. 2007), and United States v. Cuevas-Perez, 2011 WL 1585072 (C.A.7 (Ill.)).

United States v. Marquez, 605 F.3d 604 (8th Cir. 2010), the Eighth Circuit noted no reasonable expectation of privacy had been violated by DEA agents installing the GPS. Id. at 607. The Court explained that a person traveling in a motor vehicle via public roads has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements from one locale to another. Id. at 608. The 8th Circuit held that when police have reasonable suspicion that a specific vehicle is transporting drugs, a warrant is not required to install a non-invasive GPS tracking device, while the vehicle is parked in a public place, for a reasonable period of time. Id. at 610. Thus in the Eighth Circuit while law enforcement officials do not need a warrant to install a GPS device, they must possess a reasonable suspicion that the vehicle is involved in criminal activity.

The Ninth Circuit in following
U.S. v. Knotts, ruled that United States Forest Service officers warrantless placement of two electronic tracking devices on the undercarriage of a suspect’s vehicle while parked outside the curtilage did not constitute a seizure in a Fourth Amendment sense. United States v. McIver, 186 F.3d 1119, 1127 (9th Cir. 1999). The Ninth Circuit cited to several cases which indicated that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in the exterior of a vehicle. See, New York v. Class, 475 U.S. 106 (1980) - “(t)he exterior of a car, of course, is thrust into the public eye, and thus to examine it does not constitute a search” Id. at 114.

United States v. Shovea, 580 F.2d 1382 (10th Cir. 1978), federal agents became aware of a suspicious order of precursor chemicals from a New York based company for the production of methamphetamine. Id. at 1383. Physical surveillance of the pick-up of the precursor chemicals, coupled with the suspicious manner of transport, and subsequent arrival at an airport for a trans-continental trip provided agents with the requisite probable cause to place an electronic tracking device onto a suspect’s vehicle. Id. at 1384. The 10th Circuit noted that although whether the installation of an electronic tracking device on a motor vehicle is a search or seizure under the 4th Amendment was a difficult question, it need not be reached in the present case. Id. at 1387. The 10th Circuit assumed without deciding that the installation of the tracking device was a search under the 4th Amd, that was justified by the existence of probable cause and exigent circumstances (ie., the inherent mobility of vehicles making the application for a warrant impracticable ie., motor vehicle exception) Id. at 1388. Thus in the 10th Circuit, the warrantless installation of a tracking device based upon probable cause without initially acquiring a court order does not violate the 4th Amendment. Id.

United States v. Smith, 387 Fed.Appx. 918 (C.A. 11th Circuit), a DEA Task-Force Officer, without the benefit of a warrant attached a GPS unit to a marijuana trafficker’s Cadillac Escalade. The Court found that the GPS was installed in a public place and held that Smith lacked any reasonable expectation of privacy in the exterior of his vehicle. Id. at 921. The Court indicated that without any legitimate expectations of privacy there were no 4th Amendment issues. See, United States v. Barton, 698 F.Supp.2d 1303 (N.D. Fla. 2010) – “there is no 4th Amd violation for using a tracking device as a substitute for visual surveillance”. In the 11th Circuit warrantless installation of GPS devices does not impede on any reasonable expectations of privacy, thus no 4th Amendments concerns exist.

Update coming soon...

Rest assured, I have been headstrong in submitting an update for everyone. There are a couple reasons for this delayed update: (1) school (21 credit hours while working full-time and maintaining these apps = no sleep); (2) A few secret-squirrel projects I have been working on that will come to light in the very near future, and; (3) The Federal Circuit Courts and SCOTUS has been pounding out court decisions that are almost impossible to keep up with. I hope to submit this update very soon…

Cincinnati Officers: New Social Media Policy

For my Ohio Cop users with Cincinnati Police, a new Social Media policy went into effect today that not only covered agency utilization of social media outlets, but personnel use as well. In sum, the policy doesn't restrict use of social media any more than what the courts have restricted officer's free speech; well, maybe not section (j).

Policy 14.205 (D) Personal Use of Social Media

Precautions and Prohibitions - Barring state law or binding employment contracts to the contrary, Department personnel shall abide by the following when using social media.

a. Department personnel are free to express themselves as private citizens on social media sites to the degree that their speech does not impair working relationships in the Department for which confidentiality is important; does not impede the performance of duties, impair discipline and harmony among coworkers, or negatively affect the public perception of the Department.

b. As public employees, Department personnel are cautioned that speech on- or off-duty, made pursuant to their official duties, that owes its existence to the employee’s professional duties and responsibilities, is not protected speech under the First Amendment and may form the basis for discipline if deemed detrimental to the Department. Department personnel should assume that their speech and related activity on social media sites will reflect upon their office and this Department.

c. Department personnel shall not post, transmit, or otherwise disseminate any information, including photos, documents, etc., to which they have access as a result of their employment without written permission from the chief or his/her designee.

d. For safety and security reasons, Department personnel are cautioned not to disclose their employment with the Department nor shall they post information pertaining to any other member of the Department without his/her permission. As such, Department personnel are cautioned not to do the following:
  • Display Department logos, uniforms, or similar identifying items on personal web pages.
  • Post personal photographs or provide similar means of personal recognition that may cause them to be identified as a police officer of this Department. Officers who are, or who may reasonably be expected to work in undercover operations, are cautioned not post any form of visual or personal identification.
e. When using social media, Department personnel should be mindful that their speech becomes part of the worldwide electronic domain. Therefore, Department personnel should be mindful of the standards imposed by the Department’s code of conduct prior to engaging in any social media, which could be construed as reflecting poorly on Department personnel or the Department. In particular, Department personnel should be aware of the standards created by the Department code of conduct with regard to the following:
  • Speech containing obscene or sexually explicit language, images, or acts and statements or other forms of speech that ridicule, malign, disparage, or otherwise express bias against any race, any religion, or any protected class of individuals.
  • Speech involving themselves or other Department personnel reflecting behavior that would reasonably be considered reckless or irresponsible.
f. Engaging in prohibited speech noted herein, may provide grounds for undermining or impeaching an officer’s testimony in criminal proceedings. Department personnel thus sanctioned are subject to discipline up to and including termination of office as specified in the collective bargaining agreement.

g. Department personnel may not divulge information gained by reason of their authority; make any statements, speeches, appearances, and endorsements; or publish materials that could reasonably be considered to represent the views or positions of this Department without approval.

h. Department personnel should be aware that they may be subject to civil litigation for
  • Publishing or posting false information that harms the reputation of another person, group, or organization (defamation)
  • Publishing or posting private facts and personal information about someone without their permission that has not been previously revealed to the public, is not of legitimate public concern, and would be offensive to a reasonable person
  • Using someone else’s name, likeness, or other personal attributes without that person’s permission for an exploitative purpose
  • Publishing the creative work of another, trademarks, or certain confidential business information without the permission of the owner
i. Department personnel should be aware that privacy settings and social media sites are constantly in flux, and they should never assume that personal information posted on such sites is protected.

j. Department personnel should expect that any information created, transmitted, downloaded, exchanged, or discussed in a public online forum may be accessed by the Department at any time without prior notice.

OPOTA's Legal Update / Civil Liability and Use of Force trainings

If any Ohio LEOs have the opportunity to attend OPOTA's Regional Legal Update or Civil Liability and Use of Force trainings, both John Green and Jessica Didion do a phenomenal job presenting and dissecting recent court decisions that impact law enforcement. The course is FREE; take it if you can.

Side Note: All the cases discussed turned out to be in the my app :)

Civil Liability and Use of Force training
Regional Legal Update training

Ohio Supreme Court: Warrantless Search of Abandoned Computer Hard Drive is Permissible

State v. Gould, Slip Opinion No. 2012-Ohio-71. Case No. 2010-1315
Lucas App. No. L-08-1383, 2010-Ohio-3437

(Jan. 17, 2012) The Supreme Court of Ohio today held that a warrantless search of abandoned property does not violate the property owner’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches because the owner forfeits any expectation of privacy in the property after it has been abandoned. The Court held further that, to establish a reasonable expectation of privacy in property protected by the Fourth Amendment, a person must exhibit a subjective expectation of privacy that, viewed objectively, is reasonable under the circumstances.

Applying those holdings to a Lucas County criminal case, the Court reinstated the convictions and life prison sentence of Dennis Gould of Toledo on rape and child pornography charges.

The Court’s 7-0 decision reversed a ruling by the 6th District Court of Appeals that had vacated Gould’s convictions based on a finding that evidence obtained through a police search of a computer hard drive that Gould had left unattended at a former residence for several months after he left the city must be excluded because the search was unconstitutional.

In December 2005, after being laid off from his job, Gould moved in with his mother, Sharon Easterwood. At that time, he gave her a computer hard drive and told her to keep it and not ‘let anybody get their hands on it.’ Easterwood put the hard drive in an envelope and placed it in her nightstand. In May 2006, Gould moved into his own apartment, taking his belongings, but not the hard drive. About a month later, Gould’s twin brother, Douglas, told his mother that she should get the hard drive out of her house because it probably contained child pornography. As a result, she returned it to Gould.

Thereafter, in August 2006, after Gould’s older brother, Gregory had moved in with him, Gould stole Gregory’s truck and left Toledo without taking any of his belongings from the apartment, and he never advised anyone of his whereabouts. Sometime later, Gregory sold Gould’s belongings at a garage sale, but before the sale, Easterwood retrieved the hard drive because of her concerns about its contents.

On Sept. 6, 2006, Easterwood delivered the hard drive to Detective Regina Lester in the Special Victims Unit of the Toledo Police Department. According to Lester, Easterwood told her that it had been in her possession since December 2005. Easterwood further advised Lester that she believed that Gould had abandoned it and that she did not want it in her home because of her suspicions about its contents.

Lester did not attempt to access the data on the hard drive but booked it into the police property room and began efforts to locate Gould. In December 2006, after three months of attempts to contact Gould, Lester obtained permission from Easterwood for a police search of the hard drive.

A forensic examination conducted by Detective Jim Dec disclosed child pornography, including images of Gould engaging in sexual conduct with a seven-year-old child. Police identified the victim as the daughter of Gould’s former girlfriend. Federal marshals ultimately arrested Gould in Lansing, Michigan, and returned him to Toledo.

Based on the images discovered on the hard drive, a grand jury subsequently indicted Gould on two counts of rape, one count of gross sexual imposition, six counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor, and five counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance. Gould moved to suppress the evidence obtained through the search of the hard drive, asserting that police had illegally searched it in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The trial court denied the motion, finding that “Lester reasonably could have believed that [Gould] had abandoned any reasonable expectation of privacy in the hard-drive,” such that the search did not violate the Fourth Amendment.

The case proceeded to trial, and a jury returned verdicts finding Gould guilty on all counts. He was sentenced to two concurrent life sentences for the rape convictions, and received additional prison terms for the other offenses.

On review, the 6th District Court of Appeals court reversed the judgment of conviction and held that the trial court should have suppressed the evidence obtained from the hard drive as the product of an illegal search, stating that “Lester’s subjective belief that the hard drive had been abandoned was unsupported by the objective facts and Easterwood's testimony.” The 6th District therefore concluded that “the state failed to demonstrate by credible, competent evidence that the hard drive was abandoned.”

Writing for the Court in today’s decision, Justice Terrence O’Donnell referenced a line of federal court cases dating back to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1979 decision in Smith v. Maryland and including United States v. Hershenow (1982), United States v. Chandler (1999) and United States v. Davis (2010). He also cited the Supreme Court of Ohio’s 1980 decision in State v. Freeman as a state precedent addressing searches of property that an owner has abandoned.

Justice O’Donnell wrote: “The United States Supreme Court has long held that the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches does not apply to property that has been voluntarily abandoned, because society does not recognize an expectation of privacy in abandoned property as being objectively reasonable.”

“ ... As in Hershenow, Freeman, Chandler, and Davis, here the evidence similarly weighs against a finding that Gould had an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in the hard drive. He left the hard drive in his apartment with his other belongings when he stole his brother’s truck and left Toledo sometime in August 2006. From the time he left Toledo until his arrest by federal marshals sometime before June 3, 2007, Gould never inquired about the hard drive or attempted to assert control over it or its location, he concealed his whereabouts, and he never knew the hard drive had been removed from his apartment when his brother sold his other belongings.”

“And even if we consider the period of time from when Gould left Toledo until Detective Dec searched the hard drive in December 2006, the facts reveal that Gould had not made any inquiry about the hard drive or asserted control over it for almost four months. Hence, the police could have reasonably concluded Gould had abandoned it.”

“Thus, based on his conduct, Gould had no objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in the hard drive because when he relocated to Michigan he abandoned it by leaving it in his Toledo apartment without the ability to exert control over it. And, as the courts concluded in Chandler and Davis and as we held in Freeman, a warrantless search of abandoned property does not offend the Fourth Amendment. ... Accordingly, the judgment of the court of appeals ordering the exclusion of the evidence obtained from the hard drive is reversed, and Gould’s convictions and sentence are reinstated.”

Justice O’Donnell’s opinion was joined by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Judith Ann Lanzinger, Robert R. Cupp and Yvette McGee Brown. Justice Paul E. Pfeifer concurred in judgment only.
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