A version of this article appeared on Motherboard
Rochester Police Department in New York responded to our Cell Site Simulator Census with a rare look into the pricing and packaging of the cellphone surveillance tech: a completely unredacted quote list of Harris Corporation products.
Police Departments and federal agencies alike are remarkably secretive about cell site simulator details - important information like pricing, components that are sold with the devices, how the devices are actually operated, has been withheld from the public due to law enforcement fears that this investigative tool will be compromised.
With this document though, we can see much more clearly how Harris sells the controversial devices. It seems that the devices are often sold in packages, like the StingRay II (a more powerful, updated version of your typical StingRay) Vehicular System. This comes with equipment for operating a StingRay from a patrol vehicle and three different kinds of Harris’ Harpoon signal amplifiers. A laptop, three kinds of software for accessing different types of cellular networks, and an AmberJack cellphone tracker are also included for a grand total of $148,000.
The KingFish package, Harris Corporations smaller, mobile version of the StingRay, sells for $157,000.
It’s the KingFish that the Rochester PD had sprung for, opting for everything but the laptop.
These packages also come with the option of a training package, costing $12,000, and a one year maintenance package that will cost $169,000 if your department decided to splurge for the whole line of Harris’ products (this was 2011 so the 4G network cell site simulator the HailStorm wasn’t released yet.) Training isn’t included interestingly enough, so police departments are more or less forced to pay for training on these complicated and powerful devices.
Technical aspects of cell site simulators are not easy to come by, so it is very interesting that in the fine print at the bottom one can see some of the specifications required to run these devices. The StingRay and Kingfish can be run out of a car’s cigarette lighter, while the StingRay II requires a 2000W power inverter. That is hungrier for power than almost any household appliance, save a dryer or oven.
As far as we can tell this is the first time a completely unredacted quote list like this has turned up. If you have seen this document or one like it let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. A copy of the non-disclosure agreement RPD signed with the FBI, also unredacted, is embedded below, and the rest can found on the request page.
Image via Harris Corp Facebook