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Uses of GPS in Law Enforcement and Police Work

The use of GPS technology by law enforcement agencies is increasing rapidly. Listed below are a few of the ways that it has been used or might be used in the future. If you would like to share additional ideas on how GPS can be used please email them to:

GPS Use in Law Enforcement:

  • Tracking Suspected Criminals: GPS units have been used to record and monitor the movements of crime suspects. Use of such information to aid in a conviction or an investigation has been challenged by defendants as an infringement of their privacy.
  • Tracking Convicted Criminals: GPS bracelets can be placed on selected felons on parole to monitor their movements. For example: the system could monitor if criminals are staying away from the homes of their victims, traveling to work each day or going near schools. Such systems can be used to verify that certain restraining orders are being obeyed.
  • Online Crime Maps: The San Francisco police department is running an online GIS that allows the public to create maps of the locations of different categories of crimes which have occurred over the past 90 days. This is part of their philosophy of keeping the public well informed.
  • Appeal You Speeding Ticket With GPS Data: A few individuals cited for speeding have produced GPS tracking information from their on-board GPS to appeal their ticket. Maybe the officer stopped the wrong car or his radar was malfunctioning?

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