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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — You might want to think twice about having your cell phone on you at all times.

The Wilmington Police Department has surveillance equipment called Stingray. It turns your phone into a tracking device, giving law enforcement crucial information on where you are. But it might violate your rights.

“Just don’t commit crimes,” Wilmington resident Jordan Phelps said. “ I mean for some people, what’s so private? What are you so worried about? ‘Oh, they’re checking me out. They’re watching me.’ They can watch me, I don’t do anything.”

But Wilmington mother, Lindsay Maurice disagrees.

“I just feel like we all have a right to know what exactly it’s being used for,” Maurice said.

She says while it might be an invasion of privacy, it could be used to help locate missing people, especially kids.

“I can definitely see some benefits to it if we’re trying to track somebody down especially now with all the kids having cell phones,” Maurice said. “If one goes lost or is abducted somehow, then we are able to track it, you know, that’s a great benefit to our community.”

But attorney Preston Hilton says this is an invasion of privacy, much like the recent NSA scandal.

Plus he says the fact that the makers of stingray require police departments to sign a contract saying they won’t seek a warrant to use the device, is fishy.

“I certainly think that’s a problem,” Hilton said. “That infringes on one’s 4th amendment right. I think everyone has a right to privacy in their phone and in their communications.”

“Basically stingray seems to me like, in my opinion, almost a big brother type matter,” Attorney Steve Fowler said.

Fowler says the law has not evolved to the level of technology we have today.

When we asked Wilmington police spokeswoman Linda Rawley about stingray yesterday, she said the department had no comment, and referred us to the FBI.

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19 Comments on "Lawyers, locals react to WPD’s surveillance device"

2015 years 10 months ago

What’s it like knowing you watch people like the Nazis and Stazi use to?

2015 years 10 months ago

One cop is charged with secret peeping while a whole department gets away with it?

2015 years 10 months ago

So if its true the software makers require a contract with law enforcement where law enforcement agrees not to seek a search warrant to use this software, that’s problematic on multiple levels. The most serious is our justice system permitting corporate America to dictate when a search warrant is required and the authorities agreeing to those terms. If I were a judge I’d kick them out of my court room and dismiss each case using that software.

Guest of the Week
2015 years 10 months ago

You are exactly right on this. The amount of influence that corporations have on the government is beyond appalling now. There’s one company actually claiming they have a first amendment right to use license plate readers on public roads. They are then taking that data and selling it to police departments in locations where they are not allowed to do that type of surveillance themselves. WTF??????

2015 years 10 months ago


2015 years 10 months ago

just put this right here… http://www.wired.com/2014/06/feds-told-cops-to-deceive-courts-about-stingray/ and hope WWAY TV3 will allow it…..as it directly pertains to what we’re seeing here! When you have outright LYING and COLLUSION to deceive WE the people by all branches and levels of government….yeah..we have a provision in our founding documents to stop that! Everyone is too busy though….

2015 years 10 months ago

Your comment is dead on. We are too busy to pay attention to government, and even if we were, the topics are dull. Slowly, but surely, government has become uncontrollable, beyond unconstitutional. But, it starts with the people, it starts with th people disciplining themselves enough to push back.

2015 years 10 months ago

Lawyers are objecting to this but they defend the very same people this eavesdropping helps convict.
Thom Goolsby is ready willing and able to promote laws that require vaginal wand insertion in a woman but then he says her privacy is invaded by listening in on her phone calls?
Sorry – but criminal lawyers are the last people I’d listen to on this one. This is a job for constitutional lawyers.
Here’s what the Patriot Act has lead to. In our knee jerk reaction to 911 we weakened our own constitutional restraints……


Christian Female
2015 years 10 months ago

Vog, being that you are a man, I can appreciate you may need some clarification on the ultrasound picture methods. A female has an ultrasound performed by the vaginal scan wand or by the abdominal scan wand camera immediately After an abortion to confirm no fetus is in the uterus. The only thing this law requires is that a doctor do a picture ultrasound BEFORE the abortion also, 2 ultrasounds are performed before and after, instead of just 1 after the abortion. To be elected to office in 1 of the 2 major parties, you make a commitment to follow the general philosophical and majority religious views of that party. Republicans generally follow the Christian teaching doctrine and their supporters expect their candidate to follow those foundations and principles to serve that office.

Heimie Schmelter
2015 years 10 months ago

As often as you whine about them you may need one used on yourself to stop the bleeding! We’re talking basic constitutional rights violations here and it has nothing to do with Goolsby or your vaginal wand fetish.

2015 years 10 months ago

Well written/ Very True!!!

2015 years 10 months ago

Excellent point.

2015 years 10 months ago

As Christian Male I am against abortion, however our government is non religious and should be. Our forefathers saw the dangers of allowing religion to interfere with the “politics” of running a democracy for all – both believers and non believers.
The fact that you and I believe has nothing to do with what the government SHOULD be doing.
My point here is that goolsby profits from criminal activity and his faux outrage about invading privacy rights contradicts the christian slant to the law he proposed which violates a woman’s right.
Step back and away from our teachings and think about it. Do we wish to fundamentally change out (republic) democracy into a theocracy? Do we wish to initiate a Christian form of jihad on our population?
I believe, but I don’t force MY beliefs on others – nor should our politicians

2015 years 10 months ago

You said:

“Republicans generally follow the Christian teaching doctrine and their supporters expect their candidate to follow those foundations and principles to serve that office.”

I’m glad you said generally because Christian values would require the rich share their wealth with the poor and that everyone take care of the sick and infirmed.
The Bible is FULL of text emphasizing these very things.
Of course our current crop of politicians don’t follow biblical principle – nor should they, because if they did we’d be broke !!
Of course then we have the inscription on the Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
This seems to imply we’d take care of those sick just as the bible encourages us to.
Christian values? By a politician? Thats just as bad as a pol with Muslim values………(BTW – neither of which are bad if you study both religions, which preach peace)……
LIMITED government – that deemed by the Constitution – would imply no intrusions into a womans rights – no restrictions on gun ownership, no regulation regarding morality……along with NO restrictions on religion, of any kind…..


2015 years 10 months ago

Hey Harjo if you don’t break the law then nobody need worry about any device the Police use to stop crime. Did your office ever hear of something called a wiretap? Pretty much the same thing. Now go away and let the Police continue to put your clientele behind bars.

2015 years 10 months ago

Did you ever hear of something called a “court order” in order to get a wire tap? Pretty much the same thing as not having one?

Apparently, all of those people, over all of those years, who’ve given their lives to preserve your freedoms mean nothing to you.

2015 years 10 months ago

Go back underneath your rock, troll.

2015 years 10 months ago

The government that can ignore your Fourth Amendment rights today can ignore your Second Amendment rights tomorrow, and your First Amendment rights the day after that.

2015 years 10 months ago

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