Police will now need warrants in order to search the cell phones of people they arrest. This ruling came down from the Supreme Court last week in what was considered a major statement on privacy rights in the digital age. The Justice Department says that cell phones are no different from wallets and purses: they are personal property. The Biloxi Police Department has been anticipating this ruling.
Lieutenant Aldon Helmert of the Biloxi Police Department says, “For the past couple of months, we've been operating under the premise that the Supreme Court would rule in favor of having a search warrant to search a device, so we have been operating under consent searches and then obtaining a warrant. The biggest thing that we've seen is that it delays the return of that cell phone. When we were able to search the cell phone without a warrant, we were able to return that device to the person during the booking process.”
Supreme Court justices acknowledged that this decision will make law enforcement more difficult, especially since cell phones can provide valuable, incriminating information.