Police GPS Tracking Devices
When people think of GPS trackers, one of the most common thoughts is their use in law enforcement applications. But what are the best police GPS tracker options? We’re here to help you answer precisely that question!
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Do police put GPS trackers cars?
The simple answer is yes. The more complicated answer is that legally, police are required to get a warrant before using a law enforcement GPS tracker on a suspect’s vehicle. Whether or not that warrant is always obtained before the police GPS tracker is applied to the vehicle…well, that probably depends on the cop and the case.
In a 2011 case decided in 2012, though, a Supreme Court case ruled that for the GPS evidence to be admissible in court, the warrant needed to be obtained before tracker placement. Similarly, in 2014 the Supreme Court ruled that for data off a cellphone to be obtained legally, cops must get a search warrant for that cellphone. As a result, it’s easy for cops to run afoul of the law when using a police GPS tracker if they don’t get a search warrant first.
How law enforcement use GPS?
When it comes to using a law enforcement GPS tracker, the most immediate use is probably the idea of tracking a suspect’s movements (typically using a real time GPS tracker), but that isn’t the only way in which police and other law enforcement officers use GPS. In fact, check out the ways 10 law enforcement agencies that use GPS tracking use the surveillance devices:
- FBI: The Federal Bureau of Investigation regularly has GPS tracking on suspects’ vehicles, with as many as 3,000 individual vehicles being tracked at any point back in 2012. Most experts suspect the number of vehicles tracked has only gotten higher since then.
- DFW: Both state and federal Fish and Wildlife departments have been known to use GPS tracking to monitor suspected cannabis cultivators on public lands.
- BLM: The Bureau of Land Management has similarly used GPS tracking both to monitor suspected cannabis cultivators and ranchers or sheepherders it suspects may have run afoul the land-use arrangements to which they have previously agreed.
- DMV: Some states, such as California, are proposing use taxes for vehicles. The way these pilot programs work is by attaching a tracking device to the license plate; drivers would then be taxed based on the mileage driven, as reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles by their GPS tracking devices.
- DOT: A similar pilot program in Oregon would allow drivers to decide for themselves which third-party GPS tracking contractor they would prefer to use, but the data would still be used by the Department of Transportation to determine tax rates.
Best GPS for Police Officers 2020
- LandAirSea 54. In our opinion the very best police GPS tracker, the LandAirSea 54 offers 4G LTE tracking in a waterproof tracker that is roughly the size of a small roll of scotch tape and can attach to a suspect's vehicle easily, courtesy an extremely powerful internal magnet. The rechargeable lithium battery lasts up to a week on average, updates can range from every 3 seconds to once per minute, and the small size means it can be easily hidden in a backpack or other small space as well.
- Flashback GPS Tracker. Also made by LandAirSea, the Flashback 2 offers the best passive law enforcement GPS tracker we've seen. Small in size and again equipped with a powerful magnet, the Flashback 2 offers up to 50 hours worth of data on a single charge—and that data can easily be recovered by simply plugging the device into a computer using a USB cable. The Flashback 2 is also waterproof, meaning it can be hidden either internally or externally in or on the vehicle.
- Garmin Nuvi 260W. While not a tracker, this is the GPS model most police officers recommend for use in their own vehicle. When it comes to navigation and recognizing cross streets (so best able to alert other units, such as in a chase), there simply isn't a better option.
- Lightning GPS. All-In-One GPS Tracker with 140-Day Battery and Magnetic Case. With a battery life of 140 days and a strong magnetic case, Lightning's long-term option is one of the best for long-term surveillance we've seen, especially as it works well with available 4G networks to provide real-time updates.
- Spytec GL300 Personal and Vehicle GPS Tracker. The GL300 separates itself with a split design, meaning it can be used to track a vehicle or a suspect depending on where it is placed and how it is used. At only 2 ounces, it's also one of the lightest devices, and while it isn't originally waterproof, it can be used with a waterproof case just as you can add a strong magnetic case if that's helpful to your preferred placement.
- Tacti Track GPS. Tacti Track offers devices specifically made for law enforcement uses, working entirely with police GPS tracker and law enforcement GPS tracker options. In fact, in order to protect the police departments with whom they work, all of their GPS tracker options are hidden behind a password-protected wall, meaning you can be sure that your suspect won't know what you're using. They also offer custom devices as well as informant, package, and K9 tracking options in addition to vehicle trackers.
- StarChase. Among other options, StarChase offers a GPS tracker launcher, allowing law enforcement officers to stay safe a little more easily when it comes to high-speed pursuits as well as trackers designed to help law enforcement programs recover vehicles if they are stolen at a traffic stop, for instance. Like Tacti Track, their law enforcement GPS tracker options are designed specifically for police officers and other law enforcement, and that specialization and care shows in their products.