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Dropped charges raise questions about tracking device

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ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Prosecutors have dropped more than a dozen charges just one day before a city police officer was to face questions about a secret device used to locate suspects in a robbery spree.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ( ) reports that the move this month freed the officer from having to testify about a highly controversial surveillance tool. The tool is subject to a confidentiality agreement between the St. Louis police and the FBI.

Prosecutors insist the charges’ dismissal was unrelated to the impending inquiry. But a public defender who intended to ask some of the questions believes otherwise.

The case has cast attention on use of “cell site simulators,” which can allow a cellphone to be tracked to even a particular room.