SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee approved legislation authored by Rep. Kelly Moller (DFL – Shoreview) to allow law enforcement officers to use a mobile tracking device on stolen vehicles. The devices would help officers safely recover the vehicles while reducing the need for dangerous high-speed chases.
“The nationwide increase in carjackings is on the minds of Minnesotans, and law enforcement needs additional tools to help apprehend suspects and reconnect owners with their cars. Meanwhile, high-speed chases create an enhanced safety risk for officers and other innocent people on the road,” Rep. Moller said. “As a result, chases are often called-off without successful recovery of the vehicle or apprehension of the perpetrator. This is an urgent moment, and we’re working to meet that moment with significant action in response to increased carjackings, and to help keep people safe.”
Rep. Moller developed the legislation with the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, and the agency is working to acquire devices enabling squad cars to remotely launch tracking devices that attach to stolen vehicles. Although the Fourth Amendment allows the use of GPS tracking technology in exigent circumstances, state law prohibits officers from using a tracking device to monitor a car without the owner’s explicit consent, which is often impractical to obtain.
The bill allows law enforcement to use a mobile tracking device on a stolen motor vehicle when the officer either has the consent of the owner of the vehicle, or the owner has reported the vehicle stolen. Once the vehicle has been recovered, the officer is required to remove the tracking device before it is returned to the owner, and any tracking device evidence that is collected after the vehicle is returned to the owner is inadmissible. The bill limits use of the tracking device to the first 24 hours after placement on the stolen vehicle unless a court order is obtained to authorize a longer period.
The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, the Minnesota Sheriffs Association, the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, and the National Insurance Crimes Bureau all support the bill.
Rep. Moller’s legislation next heads to the House Judiciary Committee. Video of the hearing will be available on the House Public Information Services’ YouTube Channel, and documents and other information from the hearing are available on the committee webpage.