So many different industries rely upon GPS tracking devices for their fleets: trucking companies; construction companies; transportation services; delivery drivers; and law enforcement to name a few. Most business owners who operate a fleet of vehicles knows that the best way to ensure they are saving money while keeping their employees safe and honest is to rely on GPS tracking.
When it comes to emergency response and law enforcement, GPS tracking offers swifter response times and reduced costs. Dispatchers will attest to this. However, in MA, it seems the value of GPS tracking of police cars i yet to be understood.
Trouble Implementing GPS
In Central Massachusetts, Westminster, Holden, Leominster, and Ashburnham are the few out of 20 police departments within the state that use GPS devices in their cruisers. Recently, Lowell officers agreed to the installation of the devices in their vehicles.
When you look at the entire Central MA region, however, you see that there are some cities that have begun to implement the system but are unfinished. For example, Templeton purchased GPS devices, but contract negotiations are holding up the activation process according to Chief David H. Whitaker.
According to Fitchburg Police spokesman Sgt. Glenn Fossa, GPS devices were installed in their cruisers over a year ago, but have not been activated.
In Shrewsbury, police Chief James J. Hester Jr. points out that although they implemented GPS seven years ago, technical difficulties have forced the system offline. Apparently, the company that outfitted his department is no longer in business, so their IT department is looking for an economical replacement.
The Value of GPS
While some officers find GPS devices a way to spy on their actions, most of them will agree that it is a great way to keep officers safe and out of trouble. An example: Westminster Police Chief Salvatore Albert said a civilian accused an officer of speeding after her vehicle, pulling out of a parking lot, crashed into the cruiser. The GPS device was referenced, and it was discovered that officer was actually driving below the speed limit.
There are those departments that use them to keep officers from conducting personal business while in uniform, according to Mr. Donnelly, former prosecutor in the Worcester district attorney’s office. However, police unions have fought against this. They are especially against undercover officers using them, as well as those cops that must take a cruiser home with them.
Said Mr. Donnelly, “The question becomes, with that, is that public record? I might not want my name and address known.”
It remains to be seen if all of Massachusetts will catch on, or if they will dismiss the GPS tracking device as a useful tool to protect their officers’ reputations and their lives as well.