In an effort to combat crime, police officers are willing to use technology and techniques that sometimes sound like they come from the future. Sometimes officers, including those in Bergen County, are willing to use methods to track or arrest defendants and collect evidence that others may question. Take, for example, the recent use of hidden GPS units in a suspected out-of-state pharmacy robbery.
According to reports, the suspect picked up a decoy bottle at the pharmacy he was allegedly at to rob. Instead of pills, the bottle contained a hidden GPS unit that, as soon as it was picked up started emiting a signal. Police then traced the man down and shot him after they say he pointed a gun in the direction of police.
Though this man may not have much for a criminal defense attorney because he died from his wounds, had he lived, his attorney may have questioned police tactics. An attorney may have even suggested that by using a hidden GPS was a violation of his or her client's rights. Of course, all of this is speculation, as the defendant died before he had a chance to hire an attorney.
This does raise an important point, however, in that police have very specific rules about what they can and cannot do while investigating crimes. The rules, restrictions and rights that limit police investigation, however, may not accurately capture all of officers' new technologies. When that it is the case, the only thing that can limit these methods is a court decision with a newly expanded or clarified rule.
Source: The New York Times, “Robbery Suspect Tracked by GPS and Killed,” Joseph Goldstein and Michael Shwirtz, May 16, 2014