Sheriff denied request to remove GPS from command staff radios and other county news

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Page County Sheriff's Office

~ PVN staff report

LURAY, June 21 — One month ago, Page County Sheriff Chad Cubbage sent a letter to County Administrator Amity Moler requesting that GPS tracking capabilities in the new radio system being installed in the county be removed from units for “command staff and all narcotic positions.”

“I understand that the Major [Pete Monteleone] had a conversation with you on Friday, May 20, 2022 regarding the Page County Sheriff’s Office concerns around the GPS/Tracking,” the letter reads. “As we have previously discussed this, we stand by our request that all command staff and all narcotic positions within the Page County Sheriff’s Office have no GPS/Tracking through the radio system.”

Sheriff Cubbage followed up with an in-person request at the Page County Board of Supervisors’ meeting Tuesday night, citing that “sensitive material” could be leaked prior to raids or undercover operations.

“Has this information ever been leaked before?” asked District 1 supervisor Keith Guzy.

“Yes,” the sheriff responded, while not acknowledging where the leaked information originated. The conversation the sheriff engaged in with supervisors in open session seemed to indicate that someone outside of the sheriff’s office may have been responsible — and it was noted several times that GPS tracking information can be seen by 911 dispatchers in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which is run by the county separate from the sheriff’s office.

“Are you saying there are some people across the hall who are not trustworthy?” asked District 3 supervisor Mark Stroupe.

“I am not going to comment on any of that,” Sheriff Cubbage replied. However, the sheriff cited “situations” where surveillance was being conducted for several days, or in which a raid was being planned as part of a narcotics investigation, and the suspects being “tipped off.” The sheriff noted that this creates additional safety issues for officers.

Both Guzy and District 5 supervisor Jeff Vaughan expressed concern over both liability and safety issues in extreme situations where an officer may need to be located and provided back-up. Supervisor Guzy noted he had consulted several police chiefs and sheriffs in Virginia, who indicated that with the exception of special task forces and undercover operations, marked vehicles and law enforcement radios generally include GPS.

“They all have 100 percent GPS,” Guzy said of the other law enforcement agencies.

Sheriff Cubbage continued to note a need to protect “sensitive information” and ensure that investigations are not “jeopardized” by GPS, but declined to elaborate. He did however, offer a compromise that either a mobile or portable unit be allowed to kept off GPS, “so we can operate, if we need to, as a ghost.”

The discussion among supervisors focused on the need to know where an officer is if they get into a situation where they need help — both from a safety stance for the law enforcement agents, and liability on the county to protect their officers. Stroupe even referenced the fatal incident involving former Stanley Police Officer Nick Winum in February of last year. The board seemed less concerned with being “worried about someone sitting at 7-11 for 30 minutes” or “how many trips they take to the golf course.”

“I don’t see any logical reason not to do that,” Vaughan said of keeping track of law enforcement officers. “We’ve had some bad cops in the past…and shame on them…but with the technology we have now we can cut down on a lot of that, and I don’t see any reason why we would go the other direction.”

After first considering to table any action on the issue until legal counsel could confirm if waivers would cover the county against liability if something went wrong and an officer could not be located — Vaughan later made a motion to “not remove GPS tracking from any officer…period.”

The motion passed, 3-1, with Stroupe dissenting.

Page County’s new $6.5 million radio system should be completely online and signed off on by the county in the first quarter of 2023.

In other business at its June 21 meeting, the Page County Board of Supervisors took the following actions:

• Unanimously approved a $400,000 appropriation request from the Page County Sheriff’s Office to move funds from the county’s General Fund to the Page County Jail budget earmarked for inmate housing ($250,000), inmate medical costs ($100,000) and part-time wages ($50,000). The appropriation request will be funded chiefly by personal property tax revenue. An additional $80,000 representing savings from non-jail departments under the sheriff’s office will be transferred from investigations and crime prevention to the jail for part-time wages. A public hearing on the request drew no speakers.

• Unanimously approved inter-department transfers totaling $280,000 due to unexpected costs at the Battle Creek Landfill, including repairs ($50,000), contractual services ($25,000), equipment rentals ($15,000), fuel ($85,000) and stone ($25,000). The requested funds represent anticipated revenue from WB Waste Solution and Patriot Disposal Inc. that was originally intended to be used for Cell 11’s construction. A public hearing on the request drew no speakers.

• Reviewed a draft solar ordinance prepared by the Page County Planning Commission in cooperation with Page County Zoning Administrator Tracy Clatterbuck and Page County Attorney Michael Helm. The latest draft reflects changes aimed at improving formatting and document flow, according to the commission, and is set to be posted on the county’s website this week, according to Helm. The Page County Board of Supervisors will hold a joint public hearing with the Page County Planning Commission on the proposed solar ordinance at 7 p.m. next Tuesday, June 28, at the Government Center in Luray.

• Reviewed a Special Use Permit (SUP) request submitted by Shenandoah Escapes LLC to operate a 20- site campground at 870 Sedwick Rd. in Luray on a parcel containing 49.6 acres that is currently zoned as Agriculture. According to the Page County Zoning Ordinance, campgrounds are only permitted by SUP in an Agriculture zoning district. Supervisors by consensus agreed to hold a public hearing on the SUP request during the Board’s July 18 meeting.

• Considered appointments to the Page County Social Services Board. The terms of Irma Housden (Dist. 1) and Jennifer Foltz (Dist. 5) are set to expire on June 30, 2022. Neither are eligible for reappointment after serving two consecutive terms. Supervisors took no action, but said they will consider individuals for the District 1 and District 5 seats for terms that begin on July 1, 2022 and run through June 30, 2026. The Page County Social Services Board meets at 9:30 a.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at the Department of Social Services in Stanley. County Administrator Amity Moler noted last in the meeting that the county is set to welcome a new DSS director next month.

• Agreed by consensus to cancel the Board’s July 5 work session. The Board will meet again at 7 p.m. Monday, July 18, for their regular monthly meeting.

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4 Comments

  1. Having police officers radios on GPS can still be used as a weapon.
    Just move around AS IF, and continuously create these signatures that could be compromised, mixed in with the real thing. Eventually the mole may slip up and get caught or be confused all the time.
    Otherwise, they will give up because they won’t know what’s real and what’s not. Still, the criminals could be forced to react like we used B-52s in Kosovo/Bosnia to “herd” the enemy around to certain locations.
    Go!

    • The gps,the radios,the the digital technology that they use in general are all vulnerabilities and the fact that their identities are publicly known allows for anyone with the proper skills to obtain the measurements of their voice patterns the sound waves their voices make that are unique to a individual then using rf analysis and satellite technology can triangulation their locations conversations and even their locals at all times gps is a fraction of someone with my skills is capable of doing so it’s truly nothing stopping someone with the right training to gather intel alter intelligence gathering techniques used by law enforcement and apply counted intelligence tactics to make their jobs unsuccessful everytime only educational training and implementation of these trainings are the only resources available to counter such abilities which is still limited by funding for the training and implementation of such training programs.So all in all they need more hackers and experts in these fields as resources to prevail I’m the new technologically manipulation age of technology to defeat such adversaries attacks.

      • sure. I bet Jimmy who works part-time at Walmart knows how to hack GPS and measure voice patterns for triangulation.

  2. “Jimmy’s brother” I bet Jimmy would use Waze and be fooled every time by fake info the cops posted. Lol.

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