GPS tracking helped police arrest suspected highway shooter

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas City Police used GPS technology to collect evidence against the man charged with shooting at vehicles on Kansas City highways.

According to the probable cause statement released by the Jackson County Prosecutor's office, on April 11th, Kansas City police obtained a GPS warrant from the Jackson County Circuit Court for Mohammed Whitaker's dodge neon.

During their six days of surveillance, Kansas City police watched Whitaker try to purchase a handgun, and follow cars on the highway, while reaching under his seat and into the trunk.

Observations and evidence would not be possible without covert GPS tracking, which causes some to wonder, is that legal? And will the evidence stand up in court?

Michael Tabman is a retired FBI agent. He said undercover surveillance a key part of law enforcement.

"You're not supposed to know you're being watched, that's a part of surveillance. I think they did a very textbook investigation here. They moved very cautiously, and they used the court system. No case is ever a slam dunk but they put together a lot of evidence. It's going to be an overwhelming for the defense," Tabman said.

Last year, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal government can obtain GPS data from a cell phone carrier without a warrant.

Tabman said tracking is an old form of law enforcement that's just getting renewed attention.

"We're concerned about the over intrusion of government into our private lives. So anytime we hear about electronic intrusion it raises our antenna and we get a little concerned, is it being abused?

But many of these tactics have been around for a long time; they just haven't been in the public eye.

In addition to GPS, police also used the License Plate Reader database, to search for Illinois license plates in the area, which lead them to Whitaker's address on Beacon Avenue.

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