TACOMA, Wash. – Tacoma police are using a device the ACLU considers highly intrusive to locate wanted criminal suspects.
A police spokesperson said the department has used its cell phone simulator 180 times since 2009.
The device, also known as a Stingray, enables investigators to locate someone by mimicking a cell phone tower.
The police spokesperson said the device is only used after investigators obtain a court-approved search warrant.
The county's presiding judge did not know any police agencies in Pierce County were using the technology.
"I can see legitimate uses," said Judge Ronald Culpepper.
"But there's some concern if, in fact, they're getting information from people totally unrelated to a criminal investigation. What happens to that information?"
It's never collected, according to Tacoma police spokesperson Officer Loretta Cool.
In a press release, the department claims investigators only use the device to locate suspects named in search warrants.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington wants Tacoma's city council to pass an ordinance laying out specific rules for when the device can be used.
An ACLU spokesperson said he believes Tacoma is the only city in the state using a Stingray.