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Local I-Team: Mayor Strickland Denies Breaking Promises on Stingray

Memphis Mayor Strickland reacts to a Local I-Team story about backtracking on campaign promises to be transparent on Stingray.
Local I-Team- Mayor Strickland On Stingray Surveillance_20160301041905

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland is talking tonight about an I-Team investigation into campaign promises regarding transparency.

It concerns the cellphone tracking technology called Stingray. Today, he spoke with Local I-Team investigator Maria Hallas.

“Upfront, I want you to know that I can’t answer questions about how we use cell site simulators. I’m going to be as open as I possibly can,” stated Strickland.

He went on to say when he was a candidate for mayor he did not know the legal restrictions in a nondisclosure agreement his predecessor signed, but now that he is mayor, he is bound not to say much including revealing the nondisclosure agreement itself.  CLICK HERE to view  non-disclosure agreements on Stingray entered into by about 20 other cities and published on the internet, a public domain. 

But the mayor went on to say there was some information he could disclose. “Number one, the city does use cell site simulators. Number two, we do it pursuant to court order. Number three, it’s used by law enforcement on the local and federal level number. Four, it’s an important crime-fighting tool,” said Strickland.

Claiborne Ferguson, a certified criminal trial specialist and defense attorney in Memphis, had a different opinion.

“He has completely a broken campaign promise.  We all know that this is a Fourth Amendment violation and this is a serious serious privacy issue, and that’s what he campaigned on,” Ferguson said.

When the Local I-Team asked the Mayor whether the police requests for court orders say cell site simulators or anything like that, Strickland said, “I don’t know the answer to that question.”

But Ferguson said he knew the answer: “I have never been provided a court order in any of my cases that a Stingray has been used when I know for a fact they have been used,” said Ferguson.

Strickland maintains he is transparent as compared to former Memphis Mayor A C Wharton.

“I’ve been more open about this issue, and I think my predecessor was, but there are restrictions that I have,” said Strickland.

New York City, Tacoma, Tallahassee, and other cities have provided the public with information on Stingrays according to the ACLU.  The Local I-Team seeks similar information from the City of Memphis.  So far the city has not provided that information.