Police Departments Using Controversial Stingray Surveillance Technologies

"Stingrays, also known as "cell site simulators" or "IMSI catchers," are invasive cell phone surveillance devices that mimic cell phone towers and send out signals to trick cell phones in the area into transmitting their locations and identifying information. When used to track a suspect's cell phone, they also gather information about the phones of countless bystanders who happen to be nearby." - ACLU

Law enforcement agencies in the U.S. are known to use IMSI catchers throughout the nation. Every time the device is turned on, it captures information on all the cell phones in the  area. The IMSI catcher sends back all sorts of data. Device owners' phone numbers. Their exact GPS location. And even the call and text message logs.

Before IMSI catchers, law enforcement authorities needed a judge's order when asking a phone company to release its users' private data. Court warrants certified that there were legal reasons behind the data collection. A warrant allowed to spy on citizens suspected for crimes. Thanks to Stingrays, law enforcement agencies have stepped up their surveillance game. They now can (massively and indiscriminately) collect all the cell data a phone operator logs. This, without the requirement of any legal procedure (like a search warrant).  

Furthermore, police agencies don't need to publicly report on their use of IMSI catchers.

Without that information, courts simply cannot ensure that the government is complying with the Fourth Amendment.” ( Nathan Wessler)

Police Departments Using Stingray Technology
Page Title
Source
Local Police Departments
Police Use of Stingrays
Page Title
AlabamaUnknownAlabama
AlaskaAnchorage Police DepartmentAnchorage, AlaskaLocal PoliceAlaska
ArizonaMaricopa County Sheriff: "'Stingray' Phone Tracker Fuels Constitutional Clash"TempeGilbert Police DepartmentTucson Police DepartmentMaricopa County, ArizonaTempe, ArizonaGilbert, ArizonaTucson, ArizonaLocal PoliceArizona
ArkansasUnknownArkansas
CaliforniaSan Diego Police Department: "Local police dealt with company that makes controversial cellphone tracking technology"San Jose Police Department, Oakland Police Department, San Diego Sheriff's Department, San Francisco Police Department, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, Los Angeles Police Department, and Sacramento County Sheriff: "9 Calif. law enforcement agencies connected to cellphone spying technology"Los Angeles Police Department: "LAPD Spy Device Taps Your Cell Phone"San Bernadino County Sheriff: "Law enforcement officials: Cell phone disclosures would hurt investigations"Ventura County SheriffSan Diego, CaliforniaSan Jose, CaliforniaOakland, CaliforniaSan Francisco, CaliforniaLos Angeles, CaliforniaSacramento County, CaliforniaSan Bernadino County, CaliforniaVentura County, CaliforniaLocal PoliceCalifornia
ColoradoUnknownColorado
ConnecticutUnknownConnecticut
DelawareDelaware State PoliceState PoliceDelaware
FloridaMiami-Dade Police Department: "Cell-phone tracking: Miami cops know where you are"City of Miami Police DepartmentSunrise Police DepartmentFlorida Department of Law EnforcementMiami-Dade, FloridaSunrise, FloridaLocal Police And State PoliceFlorida
GeorgiaGwinnett County PoliceGwinnett County, GeorgiaLocal PoliceGeorgia
HawaiiUnknownHawaii
IdahoBoise Police Department: “Cell Phone Signal Interception a Growing Threat” (KTVB)Boise, IdahoLocal PoliceIdaho
IllinoisChicago Police Department: "Lawsuit seeks details on Chicago Police purchases of cellular tracking gear"After Denials Chicago Police Department Admits Purchase Of Cell-Phone Spying DevicesIllinois State PoliceChicago, IllinoisLocal Police And State PoliceIllinois
IndianaIndiana State Police: "Indiana State Police tracking cellphones — but won't say how or why"State PoliceIndiana
IowaUnknownIowa
KansasUnknownKansas
KentuckyUnknownKentucky
LouisianaLouisiana Attorney General: 9News Investigators: Phishing in your phoneState PoliceLouisiana
MaineUnknownMaine
MarylandMontgomery CountyBaltimoreBaltimore County: "Baltimore Co. Police Used Secretive Phone-Tracking Technology 622 Times"Anne Arundel County IAnne Arundel County IIPrince George's County: "Asset Seizures Fuel Police Spending"Montgomery County, MarylandBaltimore County, MarylandAnne Arundel County IAnne Arundel County, MarylandPrince George's County, MarylandLocal PoliceMaryland
MassachusettsUnknownMassachusetts
MichiganOakland County Sheriff: "Secret military device lets Oakland deputies track cellphones"Oakland County, MichiganLocal PoliceMichigan
MinnesotaHennepin County Sheriff: "This time, Stanek lands KingFish phone tracker"Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension: "BCA still keeps quiet about cell tracking technology----admit have Stingray"Hennepin County, MinnesotaLocal Police And State PoliceMinnesota
MississippiUnknownMississippi
MissouriSt. Louis Police DepartmentSt. Louis, MissouriLocal PoliceMissouri
MontanaUnknownMontana
NebraskaUnknownNebraska
NevadaUnknownNevada
New HampshireUnknownNew Hampshire
New JerseyUnknownNew Jersey
New MexicoUnknownNew Mexico
New YorkErie County Sheriff: "Erie Co. Sheriff Spent $350,000 To Spy On Cell Phones"New York State Police: "Local Police Agencies Have Devices to Spy on Cell Phones"Erie County , New YorkLocal Police And State PoliceNew York
North CarolinaCharlotte Police Department ICharlotte Police Department IIDurham Police DepartmentRaleigh Police Department: "Raleigh, Durham police using device that tracks cellphone data"Wilmington Police DepartmentCharlotte, North CarolinaDurham, North CarolinaRaleigh, North CarolinaWilmington, North CarolinaLocal PoliceNorth Carolina
North DakotaUnknownNorth Dakota
OhioUnknownOhio
OklahomaUnknownOklahoma
OregonUnknownOregon
PennsylvaniaPennsylvania State Police: "Confirmed: PA State Police Purchased Controversial StingRay Surveillance Technology Last Year"State PolicePennsylvania
Rhode IslandUnknownRhode Island
South CarolinaUnknownSouth Carolina
South DakotaUnknownSouth Dakota
TennesseeUnknownTennessee
TexasFort Worth Police Department: "Fort Worth Cellphone Tracker Rings Controversy"Houston Police DepartmentTexas Department of Public Safety: "APD: Can We Please Buy Some Top-Secret 'Stingrays'?"Fort Worth, TexasHouston, TexasLocal Police And State PoliceTexas
UtahUnknownUtah
VermontUnknownVermont
VirginiaAlexandria Police DepartmentChesterfield Police DepartmentFairfax County Police Department: "DC, Maryland, and Virginia cops spying on cell phone data"Alexandria, VirginiaChesterfield, VirginiaFairfax County, VirginiaLocal PoliceVirginia
Washington (State)Tacoma Police Department: Documents: Tacoma Police Using Surveillance Device to Sweep Up Cellphone DataTacoma, WashingtonLocal PoliceWashington (State)
Washington D.C.Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department: "Police in Washington, DC Are Using the Secretive 'Stingray' Cell Phone Tracking Tool"Washington DCLocal PoliceWashington D.C.
West VirginiaUnknownWest Virginia
WisconsinMilwaukee Police Department: "State cops can track residents' cellphones"Wisconsin Department of Justice: "State cops can track residents' cellphones"Milwaukee, WisconsinLocal Police And State PoliceWisconsin
WyomingUnknownWyoming

Source: ACLU, February 2015. Select values from the filters to customize the visualization. Reset them to see the overall statistics. Click "Explore" to transform this into another type of chart, change the variables plotted, add dynamic filters.

ACLU reports that IMSI catchers are known to be used in at least 43% of the US States. 

For the other 29 States, there is no information. Clearly, a sign of the lack of accountability on an issue that impact every citizen, not just criminal suspects. 

IMSI catchers are designed in a way that, "Even if law enforcement is targeting a particular phone or person, it will incidentally collect sensitive information from all other phones in the area that connect to it." (ACLU)

If citizens can't access data as to whether they are being surveilled, there can hardly be a debate on whether this technology is being used legitimately. And it's not hard to imagine that lack of transparency and scrutiny might lead to abuse of power.

Number of U.S. State grouped by Police Use of Stingrays

Source: ACLU, February 2015. Select values from the filters to customize the visualization. Reset them to see the overall statistics. Click "Explore" to transform this into another type of chart, change the variables plotted, add dynamic filters.



Washington is one of the first states to regulate Stingray data collection. In May 2015, state passed a bill requiring a judge's authorization before police forces can use IMSI catchers. An authorization that will come only if "there is probable cause that use of a Stingray will lead to evidence of criminal activity".

A step forward. Yet there are other 21 states certainly using Stingrays, without this kind of legal guarantees.

U.S. State grouped by Police Use of Stingrays

Source: ACLU, February 2015. Select values from the filters to customize the visualization. Reset them to see the overall statistics. Click "Explore" to transform this into another type of chart, change the variables plotted, add dynamic filters.



Local Police Departments Known to Use Stingrays

Source: ACLU, February 2015. Select values from the filters to customize the visualization. Reset them to see the overall statistics. Click "Explore" to transform this into another type of chart, change the variables plotted, add dynamic filters.































Of the known local police departments using Stingrays, most are in California. Here, news sources report their use in Ventura, San Bernadino, Los Angeles, San Jose, Oakland, San Diego and San Francisco.





Explore the details on the police usage of IMSI in all the 50 States & Washington D.C. 

Details on Local and State Police Departments Using Stingrays

Source: ACLU, February 2015. Select values from the filters to customize the visualization. Reset them to see the overall statistics. Click "Explore" to transform this into another type of chart, change the variables plotted, add dynamic filters.



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