Fw: SENATE BILL NO. 599 (GPS a class 3 Misdemeanor)
I wanted to share an email I wrote to my legislators about the current GPS legislation in Virginia.
--- On Tue, 12/7/10, John K. Leonard Jr., CPP <president@...> wrote:
From: John K. Leonard Jr., CPP <president@...>
Subject: SENATE BILL NO. 599
Cc: samantha@..., ehruneni@...
Date: Tuesday, December 7, 2010, 8:22 PM
Senate Bill No. 599 if passed as currently written will not be in the best interest of the people of Virginia. I applaud the bill for exempting Law Enforcement from restrictions on placing tracking devices. I would like to see that language strengthened to allow placement without court order. I feel that the real-time GPS tracking device eliminates the need for costly police surveillance. It is no different than having a few police officers conducting surveillance and following subjects of investigations. Besides the obvious cost savings of placing a GPS tracking device on a vehicle of a subject of an investigation compared to traditional surveillance a GPS tracker
is much safer than attempting a tradition vehicle follow on the busy roads and highways of Virginia.
Fairfax County police used GPS without a warrant on over 46 occasions and
stopped a serial rapist.
I think that the use of GPS certainly served the interest of the public in this case both financially and from a public safety standpoint. The GPS was simply an inexpensive proxy for a police offer or many officers conducting traditional surveillance. If one could make the argument that police officers following a subject covertly violate that person's privacy that same person must find that installing a GPS without a warrant also violates a person's privacy. The reasonable person would say that police should be able to follow the subject of an investigation covertly and conduct surveillance on a subject. That same person must also come to the conclusion that a GPS tracking device can serve as an inexpensive more efficient replacement to the traditional operative. Technology is improving the entire process and making it less
Private Investigators in Virginia are required to initially obtain 60 hours of VA DCJS training, pay an initial application fee, obtain DCJS fingerprint cards, and pay for a FBI fingerprint print check. Before that person can work on any private investigation he must be employed by a company that has a VA DCJS Private Security Business License. In order to obtain a VA DCJS Business License the company must employ a VA DCJS Compliance Agent that must meet certain eligibility requirements, be trained, apply, and pay fees. In order for an investigation to occur the firm needs to have a written contract with the client. Private investigators have been regulated by the VA DCJS for a very long time compared to bail enforcement personnel who have only recently been regulated by the Department.
The current bill states "3. A bail bondsman or
bail enforcement agent licensed by the Department of Criminal Justice Services
acting in the course of his legitimate business." It seems to me that the bill should also state "4. A private investigator registered by the Department of Criminal Justice Services
acting in the course of his legitimate business with a written contract." I purposely changed the word licensed to registered because I believe VA Code states only private security companies may be licensed and individuals are registered.
With a GPS tracking device installed an investigation will likely yield results much sooner and much more efficiently than traditions methods. Traditional methods involve following a subject usually while they are in a motor vehicle. I think that these "covert car chases" have the potential to create unsafe situations, especially in the extremely crowded conditions most areas are in nowadays. There has been more than one occasion where a mother of four has contacted our firm to obtain evidence that her husband was being unfaithful for the purpose of obtaining a divorce and possibly a better outcome in court. Obtaining the type of evidence needed for this type of litigation is both difficult and expensive to
obtain with GPS. Many firms will use GPS if the client owns the vehicle. Using a GPS a case like this usually costs around $2,000. Without a GPS I imagine it is likely to cost between $6,000 and $10,000. This will price many people out of being able to obtain personal justice or for them to simply know the truth. The GPS would simply be a proxy for a group or multiple expensive investigators in very much the same way a GPS is an inexpensive proxy for police officers conducting an investigation in the interest of the public.
A bail bondsman is in the business of making money for their private interest. They are not an agent of the state. If private investigators should be excluded from this bill so should bail bondsman. The police truly have the responsibility of bringing a fugitive to justice. A bail bonds is serving a private financial interest though it also may be in the public interest. By excluding private investigators in this bill the
client will ultimately be hurt, and usually clients are simply seeking personal justice and the truth.
I implore you to amend the bill or vote against it in its current form. The simple addition of "4. A private investigator registered by the Department of Criminal Justice Services
acting in the course of his legitimate business with a written contract." would make this bill acceptable.
Respectfully, John K. Leonard Jr., CPP, CISSP VersaTek, LLC
f:(703)-496-4758 Please note: I am not an attorney and I do not give legal advice. If
you are seeking legal advice, contact an attorney.
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