City Council to hold hearing on surveillance tech purchased with hidden pot of money

A WBUR investigation with ProPublica found elected officials and the public were largely kept in the dark when Boston police spent $627,000 on cell site simulator equipment by dipping into money seized in connection with alleged crimes.

1/27/2022 12:13:00 AM

NEW: This comes as a result of a WBUR/propublica investigation that found officials and the public were largely kept in the dark when Boston police spent $627,000 on cellphone tracking equipment using a fund often spent at the discretion of police chiefs:

A WBUR investigation with ProPublica found elected officials and the public were largely kept in the dark when Boston police spent $627,000 on cell site simulator equipment by dipping into money seized in connection with alleged crimes.

A Boston City Council committee focused on government accountability will hold a hearing to review the Boston police's purchase of controversial spy technology.Several councilors pushed for the hearing, which is expected to happen within the next several months, following a WBUR and ProPublica

investigationthat revealed the surveillance equipment was bought with a hidden pot of money that shielded the purchase from council oversight."Our hope is that we can use this hearing to ensure that we are putting a spotlight on any hidden pot of money, especially money being used without our consent," Councilor Julia Mejia, who co-sponsored the order calling for the hearing, said at Wednesday's council meeting.

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propublica 🔶 That same tracking equipment found my husband. You can look at this two ways.

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Email A Boston City Council committee focused on government accountability will hold a hearing to review the Boston police's purchase of controversial spy technology. Several councilors pushed for the hearing, which is expected to happen within the next several months, following a WBUR and ProPublica investigation that revealed the surveillance equipment was bought with a hidden pot of money that shielded the purchase from council oversight. "Our hope is that we can use this hearing to ensure that we are putting a spotlight on any hidden pot of money, especially money being used without our consent," Councilor Julia Mejia, who co-sponsored the order calling for the hearing, said at Wednesday's council meeting. In 2019, Boston police paid $627,000 for cell site simulator equipment and training, according to invoices obtained by WBUR in a public records request. The technology tracks cell phone location and use. Boston police say it's used to locate missing people and in criminal investigations, but critics say the warrantless use of the equipment, also known as a"stingray," threatens constitutional rights. Several city councilors interviewed said they were not aware Boston police bought this technology until WBUR and ProPublica's