A new addition to the militarization of police has already been deployed by at least 50 law enforcement agencies in secret. A new radar device—kept secret from the courts and public—allows police to virtually see through the walls of homes to determine if anyone is inside.
This is a very alarming revelation, and raises many privacy concerns, especially with recent revelations about government surveillance. There has been no oversight or accountability on how these devices are being used. In the Supreme Court case, Kyllo v. United States, it was ruled that using devices to scan a person’s home from a public vantage point constitutes a search within the definition of the Fourth Amendment, and most definitely requires a warrant.
It’s no wonder law enforcement wants to keep these devices a secret. If used without a search warrant, they are in complete violation of Fourth Amendment rights.
In a statement issued by Christopher Soghlan, the American Civil Liberties Union’s principal technologist said:
The idea that the government can send signals through the wall of your house to figure out what’s inside is problematic. Technologies that allow the police to look inside of a home are among the intrusive tools that police have.
The devices, known as “Range-R Radar Systems,” were virtually unknown to anyone but law enforcement until last December, when it was revealed in a federal appeals court in Denver that officers had used the device before entering a man’s house to arrest him for a parole violation. The judges were quite concerned, and with good cause, that law enforcement had implemented the device without first obtaining a search warrant. They stated:
The government’s warrantless use of such a powerful tool to search inside homes poses grave Fourth Amendment questions.
The maker of the Range-R, L-3 Communications has estimated that it has sold about 200 of these privacy-invading devices to about 50 law enforcement agencies with a price tag of $6000 a piece. The devices, which were first designed for use in combat applications in Iraq and Afghanistan, work by sending radio waves into a home, which are then bounced back to the device, displaying such information as a person’s position, movement, and even breathing, from distances up to 50 feet, and even through concrete.
There is already evidence of these devices being abused, and the more mainstream they become, the potential for abuse grows astronomically. Defending the secret use of such technology, former US Marshals Chief Deputy William Sorukas stated:
If you disclose a technology or a method or a source, you’re telling the bad guys along with everyone else.
The American public are being labeled “the bad guys” more and more in recent history. We have a right to know which technologies and methods—especially unconstitutional ones—are being used against us.