I Always Feel Like... Somebody's Watching Me E-mail
Written by APB Staff   
One of the ways that life today is different than it was 10 or 20 years ago is the fact that in 2010, it's easy to find out where almost anyone is and for how long they've been there.

Thanks to GPS location devices, parents can monitor the location of their kids, boyfriends and girlfriends can find out if their significant other was actually where they said they were, and police have been able to make arrests and secure convictions.

But one of the more interesting aspects of the increased use of GPS in private as well as professional life is how employers use the technology to monitor employees.

In Tyngsboro, Massachusetts, Police Officer Ronald Goulet allegedly spent almost 40 work hours over two weeks with his cruiser idle.

However, he reportedly told his superiors he was patrolling the town, according to an internal-affairs investigation that led to his resignation in January.

Police Chief William Mulligan ordered a global positioning system installed in Goulet's cruiser late last year after a complaint was filed. Deputy Police Chief Richard Burrows wrote Mulligan that neighbors "stated that some mornings Officer Goulet has to scrape his windshield because it had been parked there so long."

Data pulled from the GPS device indicated that in eight days Goulet's cruiser was parked for a total of 39 hours and 15 minutes.

That's just under five hours for every eight-hour overnight shift.

During that same time frame, "the daily log indicated Officer Goulet had been checking buildings throughout the shift," Mulligan wrote.

Goulet was placed on paid administrative leave in December and then agreed to resign in mid-January.

According to a story in the Lowell Sun newspaper, the town of Tyngsboro at first refused to hand over the investigation report. But investigations of this type are considered public documents under a 2004 court ruling. So the newspaper protested to the Secretary of State's office, which forced the town to release the report.

Chief Mulligan wrote that the inquiry began after the agency got an anonymous call. The next day, Mulligan said he phoned retired Tewksbury Police Chief Al Donovan, the lead investigator for the NEMLEC Internal Affairs unit, to discuss the complaint against Goulet, who was the Tyngsboro Police Patrolman's Union representative.

"Chief Donovan agreed that I had the right as the police chief to place a GPS unit in Officer Goulet's cruiser in order to monitor activity during his shift," Mulligan wrote.

Twenty pages of the Goulet file contain detailed "stop and start activity" data produced by the GPS tracking device hidden in his cruiser. The reports also show Goulet logged few driving miles, from 8.9 to 35.5 miles during his eight-hour shifts.

Last Christmas, Chief Mulligan, department managers, and selectmen received a second complaint saying that Goulet was spending extended work hours at home. Mulligan suspended Goulet with pay the next day.

On Dec. 28, Goulet indicated through his lawyer that he was willing to resign as a Tyngsboro police officer, the chief reported.

In letter to the chief, Goulet wrote, "After careful consideration and discussion with my family, I have come to the decision to tender my resignation as a police officer with the town of Tyngsboro, effective Jan. 27."

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