Editorial: Technology integral to our protection

May 31, 2019

When police began a search last summer for a man who had held a box-cutting knife to the throat of an 82-year-old Rehoboth Beach man and forced him into his car trunk during the course of robbing the man and his wife, officers quickly sought court permission to use cellphone-tracking technology to find the perpetrator.

With permission granted, police found the man and took him into custody within a few hours. Given the nature of the crime, officers felt the community was in danger as long as the alleged perpetrator - who had been identified by the victims - was at large.

The Cape Gazette has been covering court proceedings due to the seriousness of the crime, and particularly due to the vulnerability of not only the victims in this case, but also our entire community with its prevalence of older citizens.

Following a recent hearing on whether police were within their rights to use cellphone-tracking technology to find the man suspected of the crimes, the judge ruled with the police. His ruling stated proper procedures had been followed, including providing convincing evidence to authorities - who issued permission - that the community was in increased danger while the alleged perpetrator was on the loose.

The ruling makes good sense and is reassuring.

A trial guaranteed by our society’s laws will determine whether the charged man is ultimately guilty of the crimes.

Just as police demonstrated they employed due process to decide the welfare of the community outweighed the alleged criminal’s individual right to cellphone privacy, the court system will use due process to determine innocence or guilt.

We live in a dangerous world. Police have a tough job protecting us. Too often in serious crimes we see how opportunities weren’t used that could have prevented injuries and death. Proper use of technology - with community oversight through its courts - is an important tool that should be supported and used vigorously to make this a safer world.


  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Dennis Forney, publisher emeritus, and Laura Ritter, news editor, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, CoPublisher and Editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, CoPublisher and General Manager.