By Christopher B. Daly
This is rich.
Today’s Boston Globe has a story about a contract dispute between Boston’s street cops and the city. The city wants to put GPS tracking devices in all Boston Police cruisers, ostensibly so they can mobilize patrolmen more rapidly in a crisis.
Turns out, the cops don’t want GPS trackers to be used on them. They don’t like it any better than the rest of us do, and they want to bargain with the city to keep GPS devices out of their cruisers.
Great quote from the Globe story:
“No one likes it. Who wants to be followed all over the place?” said one officer who spoke anonymously.
And another one — from the patrolmen union’s lawyer:
“This thing keeps a permanent record of where an officer is all day. If he stops to go to the bathroom, that stop appears on the screen. If he goes a mile over the speed limit, someone can question that. It’s quite an intrusion on people’s lives.”
Exactly. This is exactly why ordinary, law-abiding citizens don’t want to be watched all the time either.
This comes on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling back in January, in which the court held that it was an invasion of privacy for police agencies in general to slap a GPS tracker on the automobile of a suspect who has not been charged with a crime.
I welcomed that decision, but now the Boston police cruiser case raises a question: why not track the cops? After all, when they are on duty, this is a workplace issue, not a privacy issue. We give them those cruisers and the guns they carry and the power that goes with the badge. For 40 hours a week, while they are exercising that awesome power, and if they are put on notice first, then I would be okay with monitoring the cops. After all, someone has to watch the watchers.