Monday, January 18, 2010

GPS Evidence-Deterrence

One of the most important uses of GPS Evidence can never really be measured, will never see the open courtroom, will never require the attachment of a GPS unit to a car. Actually, this use of GPS evidence never even requires collection of GPS evidence.

Deterrence.

While no criminal or potential criminal feared detection by GPS evidence twenty, or even ten, years ago, it is likely they do now. Criminals dealt with those who they "trusted", bought and sold drugs, contraband, information or favors from those who would also suffer if knowledge of their shared criminal enterprise were to become public or come to the attention of law enforcement.

Now, however, the story has changed and the tide is hopefully turning. Every time a story is in the newspaper about GPS tracking putting another suspect behind bars, every criminal has to ask him or herself, will that be me soon? In the mean time, the criminal that goes about buying and selling drugs and stolen items have to wonder, is this when the police will burst in? With GPS evidence, it doesn't matter if the criminal "trusts" his fences, his drug customers, his suppliers-because those people wouldn't know if they were being tracked by GPS evidence.

Other forms of investigation leave tracks, or clues. Direct visits by officers. Boxy, government type vehicles following at a distance. Neighbors and employers questioned by men in suits. Knocks on the door. The possibility of barricading one's self in the home for a last stand against the law.

But an investigation and arrest done with GPS evidence is different. No warning, no following vehicles, probably not much questioning to neighbors, no direct initial "visits" from law enforcement. No clues that one is being investigated. With GPS evidence, police can invisibly track patterns of contact and activity. No inside information is necessary. No fellow criminal must turn into an informant.

And police following a "realtime" GPS signal don't even have to enter a house or apartment after a subject. They just have to follow the criminal's vehicle, out of sight, until the suspect parks, then move in in force. No more stand-offs. No more sick criminal fantasy about going down shooting.

With GPS evidence, one last bastion of criminal hope is also vanquished: If they catch me, I'll rat out someone else and make a good deal. With GPS evidence, police probably know more about the target suspects relationships, contacts, suppliers, buyers and even victims than his fellow criminals do. Likely, they will already have arrested, in one stunning sweep, all those who the target criminal suspect could hope to turn in to make a deal. GPS evidence, where gathered and used successfully, allows prosecutors to put away all the members of a conspiracy, rather than having to settle for jailing the least talkative.

There is one way for a current criminal to avoid all these consequences: Go straight, before the law starts tracking you.

Now, some might say that a post like this would put criminals on notice to check their vehicles for GPS trackers. But, even if they find a GPS tracker, wouldn't it be too late? How much did that tracker find out already? Could there be more than one? Perhaps he'll borrow a car. Who's to say that car isn't GPS tracked? And, even if the frighten criminal doesn't find a tracker, does that mean he's in the clear? Or, was it just removed and downloaded?

Will GPS tracking move criminals out of private vehicles? If so, their mobility will be greatly compromised, their anonymity will be greatly reduced, and their risks of apprehension increased. And, eventually, they will drive again, when they feel "safe" doing it.

Successful criminals surround themselves with people that they can trust, or at least intimidate, and convince those people that if harm should come to the successful criminal, equal or greater harm will come to those around that criminal. GPS sidesteps all that "human engineering" by disclosing geographic evidence of human relationships and relationships with events outside the control of the criminal suspect, and independent of co-conspirator testimony. GPS evidence, therefore, represents probably the most powerful deterrents to criminal activity since fingerprint evidence was first introduced.