MN considers bill to track stolen vehicles, but some cite privacy concerns – WCCO

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ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Minnesota lawmakers are considering a bill that would give police more access to track stolen cars.

“It allows law enforcement or police officers to put a tracking device on a stolen vehicle, a vehicle that is reported stolen,” said DFL Representative Cedrick Frazier, co-author of the proposal.

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Frazier says the proposal aims to reduce the number of dangerous high-speed police chases.

The idea is that officers would attach GPS tracking devices instead of chasing, and then they would be allowed to track the vehicle for 24 hours.

The bill does not mention lawsuits or any other specific situation. It says police would be allowed to use mobile tracking devices on any stolen car.

The broad language worries Rich Neumeister, a privacy advocate.

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“We’re not talking about a car chase where there’s imminent danger,” he said. “Maybe it’s just a car sitting on private property.”

When asked how he would change the bill, Neumeister said, “Put some barriers there. Just say “demanding circumstances only”.

Neumeister wonders if the proposal as written raises questions about the 4th Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches.

Frazier believes the bill will help end police chases, as it is designed to do.

“If we can improve public safety or law enforcement, we should always take the opportunity to do so, and I think this bill gives us that opportunity,” he said.

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Under current law, police must either have a warrant or obtain consent from the vehicle owner to use mobile tracking technology.

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