Salisbury Police Look to Upgrade Cellebrite Device - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Salisbury Police Look to Upgrade Cellebrite Device


SALISBURY, Md.- Keeping up with advancing technology while protecting the public.

That's the message the Salisbury Police Department is conveying when it comes to upgrading tools that could help them with their investigations.

The department is looking to upgrade its Cellebrite Touch device. which is used to download data from cellphones, iPads and other devices of suspected criminals. That includes obtaining stored and deleted files like text messages, photographs, videos, and contact lists.

Police chief Barbara Duncan said that the use of the current similar device is outdated.

"We've had that for a couple of years now and it has worked out very well for us, Duncan said, "it has enhanced our investigative capabilities and we are looking to upgrade to accommodate all the new devices that are constantly coming out. There comes a point in every investigation when the investigator says I need to go get a warrant if I am going any further in my investigation."

Some people like Mike Powers said that he doesn't see why anyone would have a problem with law enforcement trying to do their job.

"There a lot of things technology wise that the criminal have the advantage to and so I think it's far game for both sides of the fence," Powers said. 

Brian Shockley said that if the technology is there then use it.

"If there is probable cause there should be no question that you should be able go to any means necessary to solve the crime," Shockley said, "if it's questionable then there might be some other laws to protect people who are innocent."

David Rocah who is a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland also weighed in on how and when these data extraction devices should be used.

In an email statement to WBOC he stated:

"I think the important question for the Salisbury police and City Council to answer is whether they are only searching cell phones with these devices when they have a warrant, or if there are circumstances when they use them without a warrant. 

I also think that vague, general statements by the police that they obey the law, or that they get a warrant when necessary, doesn't actually answer that question.  There are instances of police (I have no specific knowledge of Salisbury police doing this) searching cell phones without a warrant, particularly when they obtain the cell phone by means of an otherwise lawful arrest of the person who owns it and who had it on their person when they were arrested.  

I think such searches are clearly prohibited by the 4th Amendment, but some police still disagree, and the issue is still being litigated around the country.  I think the residents of Salisbury have a right to know what their police department thinks the law is, and how they're implementing it in this context."

The device is expected to cost at about $8,000. That money would come from revenue generated by the speed cameras in school zones in Salisbury. 


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