Cell Phone Search Ruling to Have Little Effect on S.B. Police

While civil libertarians are hailing last week’s Supreme Court ruling requiring law enforcement officers to obtain search warrants before checking the contents of a cell phone, Santa Barbara Police Department spokesperson Riley Harwood said the ruling would have limited impact on day-to-day operations or departmental investigations. “I don’t know it will impact us a whole lot,” Harwood said. “It’s just another administrative step we’ll have to go through.” Harwood said police investigators will need to obtain warrants from local judges, and to do so they’ll need to establish what’s referred to as “reasonable suspicion.” In the meantime, he said, officers have the authority to seize the phones in question to prevent evidence from being erased. He said information gleaned from cell phones is typically sought in narcotics investigations as well as those involving gang activity.

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