Locals Want What Feds Have: Ability to Jam Cellphones

The question is: Will local police abuse the right if allowed to jam cellphones? And how often are local police in a situation that would require such action?

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — As President Obama’s motorcade rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day, federal authorities deployed a closely held law enforcement tool: equipment that can jam cellphones and other wireless devices to foil remote-controlled bombs, sources said.
It is an increasingly common technology, with federal agencies expanding its use as state and local agencies are pushing for permission to do the same. Police and others say it could stop terrorists from coordinating during an attack, prevent suspects from erasing evidence on wireless devices, simplify arrests and keep inmates from using contraband phones.
But jamming remains strictly illegal for state and local agencies. Federal officials barely acknowledge that they use it inside the United States, and the few federal agencies that can jam signals usually must seek a legal waiver first.
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