NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - Police records show special units inside the New York City Police Department use secret cell phone tracking technology in efforts to catch suspects in violent crimes like rapes, robberies, and murders.
The NYPD has been doing this type of secret surveillance since 2008. The New York Civil Liberties Union just found out about it this year after requesting police records using the Freedom of Information Act.
The NYCLU says police use a cell-site simulator known as a "Stingray." It is about the size of a suitcase and mimics a cell phone tower enabling it to absorb data from phones in a particular area or neighborhood.
Records show the NYPD used such tracking technology 1,000 times since 2008 without cell phone users or anyone else knowing about it. The device helps locate the cell phone user.
Federal law now requires a search warrant to get such information but there is no such policy for local enforcement.
We reached out to the NYPD for comment but have yet to hear back.
One former NYPD officer says these tools can be important in locating dangerous criminals and even finding missing people but there are major privacy concerns over their usage and data collection.
The NYCLU want to know more about how the information police gather is being used and what's being done to protect the privacy of everyday citizens.