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Criminal Justice & Legal System

State lawmaker, ACLU want details on new police surveillance device

The Obama administration is telling local police not to disclose details about powerful new surveillance devices they obtained from the federal government.

That's according to the Associated Press.

The devices were developed to monitor enemy cell phone communications on the battlefield. 

Now, the devices, known by the nicknames, "Hailstorm," and "Stingray," are being used as a domestic law enforcement tool.   

State Representative Tom McMillin says it appears the systems can eavesdrop on large numbers of cell phone calls, by blocking an area's cell phone tower and re-routing the calls through the device.

McMillin says the Oakland County Sheriff's Department has one - but won't tell him how it's being used. 

He says department officials declined to appear at a hearing, even though he offered to make it a closed-door hearing.

"By their very nature, these devices go against the fourth amendment and invade the privacy of innocent people," says McMillin.  "It needs to be more than just 'trust us'.  We need to be able to verify, we need to be able to have some oversight."

He is drafting legislation to try to force the department to disclose how the device works and how it's being used.

The ACLU of Michigan may also file a lawsuit to try to force the disclosures.