New Wiretap Bill Would Level Playing Field for Police

When it comes to technology – especially with communications – Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes isn’t hesitant to admit that the criminals are out in front of the police.

All that could change, though, with a new wiretap bill filed by Chelsea Rep. Gene O’Flaherty and championed by Attorney General Martha Coakley and Kyes.

Kyes was present for a Boston press conference Monday morning in his capacity as a spokesperson for local police chiefs, and he told the Record that police are hampered now by a state law that was written before cell phones were even part of science fiction novels – let alone reality.

“As it is right now, when local and State Police working investigations, we do wiretaps on cell phones, but only when we’re working with a federal partner,” said Kyes. “Under the current state statute, we don’t have the ability to wiretap cell phones. The law is from the 1960s and only talks about hard lines…This gives us more tools in law enforcement and in conducting more competent investigations.”

The proposed legislation would expand the organized crime definition, and would expand the permitted crimes as those dealing with money laundering, drugs, rape, kidnapping, human trafficking, firearms trafficking, and child enticement.

Additionally, a cell phone wiretap would be applied for directly to a judge and not a clerk magistrate. It would also be good for 30 days rather than 15 days.

Kyes said the proposed law really only brings the state up to date, rather than enacting something groundbreaking.

“Bottom line is it’s going to help us in law enforcement keep pace with the ever-changing technology advances and how people communicate,” he said. “Honestly, now, the criminals have the upper hand. This will put us on a level playing field.”

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