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The Supreme Court Just Made It Easier for Police to Arrest You for Filming Them

“On Tuesday, the Supreme Court invented a rule that will often allow police officers to arrest people in retaliation for disfavored speech without liability.”
Justice Stephen Breyer and Chief Justice John Roberts. Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
Justice Stephen Breyer and Chief Justice John Roberts. Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
“There is no evidence that Congress wanted the statute to be interpreted like this.”

“By enabling police officers to target viewpoints they dislike with near impunity, the decision could be catastrophic for protesters and the press. The justices, meanwhile, didn’t even try to ground their decision in the text or history of the statute they were interpreting. Instead, the court was surprisingly frank about its rationale: The justices simply don’t want police officers to have to defend themselves in court against these types of allegations.”

Continued: Supreme Court makes it easier for police to arrest you for filming them (Slate)

For related stories, see: http://police.truists.org/

 

That sign telling you how fast you’re driving may be spying on you

Road sign records a photograph of your license plate.
Road sign records a photograph of your license plate.

The next time you drive past one of those road signs with a digital readout showing how fast you’re going, don’t simply assume it’s there to remind you not to speed. It may actually be capturing your license plate data.

According to recently released US federal contracting data, the Drug Enforcement Administration will be expanding the footprint of its nationwide surveillance network with the purchase of “multiple” trailer-mounted speed displays “to be retrofitted as mobile LPR [License Plate Reader] platforms.” The DEA is buying them from RU2 Systems Inc., a private Mesa, Arizona company. How much it’s spending on the signs has been redacted…

Continued: That sign telling you how fast you’re driving may be spying on you

The Militarization of Police Does Not Reduce Crime

New research finds it does reduce public support for law enforcement.

“Curtailing militarized police may be in the interest of both police and citizens”, concludes Jonathan Mummolo, an assistant professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University. His study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Overall, “the routine use of militarized police tactics by local agencies threatens to increase the historic tensions between marginalized groups and the state, with no detectable public safety benefit”, Mummolo concludes. “While SWAT teams arguably remain a necessary tool for violent emergency situations, restricting their use to those rare events may improve perceptions of police with little or no safety loss…”

Story: The Militarization of Police Does Not Reduce Crime

Massachusetts Cop Pleads Guilty to Pocketing $11,000 for Hours He Didn’t Work

“Of the $249,407 Sweeny received in 2015, overtime pay accounted for $111,808 of it. Of the $218,512 he earned in 2016, overtime pay made up $95,895.”

A Massachusetts state trooper is pleading guilty to pocketing $11,000 in overtime pay for hours that he didn’t actually work.

Kevin Sweeney, 40, of the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) found a way to game the system in order to receive extra money for shifts that he either left early or did not work at all…

“Sweeney concealed his fraud by submitting fraudulent citations designed to create the appearance that he had worked overtime hours that he had not, and falsely claimed in MSP paperwork and payroll entries that he had worked the entirety of his overtime shifts…”

Story: Massachusetts Cop Pleads Guilty to Pocketing $11,000 for Hours He Didn’t Work | Reason

Spy agency NSA triples collection of U.S. phone records


FILE PHOTO: The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters is seen in Fort Meade, Maryland, U.S. February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Sait Serkan Gurbuz

The U.S. National Security Agency collected 534 million records of phone calls and text messages of Americans last year, more than triple gathered in 2016, a U.S. intelligence agency report released on Friday said.

The sharp increase from 151 million occurred during the second full year of a new surveillance system established at the spy agency after U.S. lawmakers passed a law in 2015 that sought to limit its ability to collect such records in bulk.

The spike in collection of call records coincided with an increase reported on Friday across other surveillance methods, raising questions from some privacy advocates who are concerned about potential government overreach and intrusion into the lives of U.S. citizens.

The 2017 call records tally remained far less than an estimated billions of records collected per day under the NSA’s old bulk surveillance system, which was exposed by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden in 2013.

The records collected by the NSA include the numbers and time of a call or text message, but not their content.

Overall increases in surveillance hauls were both mystifying and alarming coming years after Snowden’s leaks, privacy advocates said.

“The intelligence community’s transparency has yet to extend to explaining dramatic increases in their collection,” said Robyn Greene, policy counsel at the Washington-based Open Technology Institute that focuses on digital issues …

 

Friday’s report also showed a rise in the number of foreigners living outside the United States who were targeted under a warrantless internet surveillance program, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, that Congress renewed earlier this year.

That figure increased to 129,080 in 2017 from 106,469 in 2016, the report said, and is up from 89,138 targets in 2013, or a cumulative rise over five years of about 45 percent.

U.S. intelligence agencies consider Section 702 a vital tool to protect national security, but privacy advocates say the program incidentally collects an unknown number of communications belonging to Americans.

Source: Spy agency NSA triples collection of U.S. phone records: official report | Reuters

Police Tried to Unlock a Dead Man’s Phone With His Finger

“Florida authorities went to a funeral home and used a dead man’s finger to try to unlock his cellphone as part of their investigation.

Thirty-year-old Linus Phillip was killed by a Largo police officer last month after authorities say he tried to drive away before an officer could search him.

At the funeral home, two detectives held the man’s hands up to the phone’s fingerprint sensor … a professor at Stetson University College of Law, tells the Tampa Bay Times that dead people can’t assert their Fourth Amendment protections because you can’t own property when you’re dead. But those rights could apply to whoever inherits the property…”

Source: Police Tried to Unlock a Dead Man’s Phone With His Finger (Time)

RELATED: A look at DNA-sharing services and privacy (Associated Press) – Apr. 28, 2018

Police can get your DNA from 23andMe, Ancestry.com and others

Genetic testing companies could give up you DNA for criminal investigations

The DNA you send in the mail through genetics kits and ancestry programs like 23andMe and Ancestry.com can be used by police in a criminal investigation, but it doesn’t happen very often.

More than 1.2 million customers have sent their saliva to 23andMe to learn about their own genetics, though not everyone is aware that police can potentially have access to their DNA.

“We try to make information available on the website in various forms, so through Frequently Asked Questions, through information in our privacy center,” 23andMe privacy officer Kate Black told Action News Jax.

Police have only requested information from 23andMe for five Americans and according to 23andMe reports, the company didn’t turn over any information.

“In each of these cases, 23andMe successfully resisted the request and protected our customers’ data from release to law enforcement,” Black and colleague Zerina Curevac wrote in a blog post last year.

But Black said she wouldn’t rule out the possibility in the future and seeks to review requests on “a case-by-case basis.”

In the 23andMe blog post, Black and Curevac address multiple privacy concerns and questions involving law enforcement and their DNA.

They write that typically police will collect the DNA of an unknown suspect at a crime scene and compare it to the federal government’s genetic information database, the Combined DNA Index System or “CODIS.”

Using CODIS, police can run a search to see if the DNA matches that of a convicted offender or arrestee profile in the database. They can also run a “familial search” to identify close biological relatives.

If no matches are found, police may turn to privately owned databases.

But 23andMe and other ancestry tools aren’t likely to be useful to law enforcement or to the government, Black and Curevac wrote.

Their genetic tests can’t be used to match CODIS information or information in other governmental databases because the genotyping technology is very different.

And, even if police are presented a situation in which their testing would be useful, they would still face tough legal and technical limitations.

These limitations are usually enough to persuade police to back off their requests, according to the blog.

23andMe posts law enforcement requests on its public Transparency Report.

While police have been unable to obtain DNA information from 23andMe, in 2014, Ancestry self-reported that it released a customer’s DNA sample to police in compliance with a search warrant.

According to Ancestry’s website, the company “requires valid legal process in order to produce information about our users. We comply with legitimate requests in accordance with applicable law.”

The investigation involved the 1996 murder and rape of 18-year-old Angie Dodge in Idaho Falls, Idaho, Mashable reported. Police believed there was another suspect involved in addition to Christopher Tapp, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1998.

The 2014 Ancestry results found a close (but not exact) match, which police believed to be Tapp’s relative.

After showing up at donor Michael Usry Jr.’s doorstep in New Orleans, Louisiana, for a six-hour interrogation and blood drawing, police determined it wasn’t a match, Mashable reported.

Ancestry’s Transparency Report states that the company received nine valid law enforcement requests in 2016 and provided information on eight of the requests  to government agencies. All were related to credit card misuse and identity theft.

CLICK HERE to learn how to delete you results from 23andMe and CLICK HERE to learn how to do the same for Ancestry.


RELATED: Deleting Your Online DNA Data Is Brutally Difficult (Bloomburg) – June 15, 2018

RELATED: A look at DNA-sharing services and privacy (Associated Press) – Apr. 28, 2018

RELATED: Took an ancestry DNA test? You might be a ‘genetic informant’ unleashing secrets about your relatives (USA Today) – Apr 27, 2018

RELATED: 7 things you need to know before you send your spit to 23andMe (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) – Apr 12, 2017

RELATED: Bill would allow companies to collect employee genetics information (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) – Mar 11, 2017


Source: Police can get your DNA from 23andMe, Ancestry.com and other tools (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

AZ Cop Acquitted for Killing Man Crawling While Begging for His Life

Body camera footage released after jury reaches verdict.

Photo Credit: Mesa Police body camera footage.

Arizona jurors watched the video below, which shows former Mesa, Arizona, police officer Philip Mitchell Brailsford shooting and killing a man who was begging for his life and attempting to follow the officer’s orders to crawl down a hotel hallway.

Yesterday, the jurors found Brailsford not guilty of second-degree murder and reckless manslaughter. Do you agree?
(Warning: The video is pretty graphic.)

The incident occurred in January 2016. Daniel Shaver apparently was showing off a pellet gun, and it was visible through the hotel room window. This prompted someone to call to the hotel front desk, which prompted a call to the police.

So it wasn’t unreasonable for police to approach the hotel room thinking the encounter might be dangerous. They knew there was a gun there, and they didn’t know it was a pellet gun. But that video shows some truly baffling decisions by Brailsford that escalated the situation to make it even scarier, not the least of which was that Brailsford’s bluster and open threats of violence made him appear as terrified as Shaver. (CORRECTION: The orders being barked out in the video are not from Brailsford, but by Sgt. Charles Langley, who retired four months after the shooting and defended Brailsford’s actions in court.)

The contents of the body camera footage had been described to the public before, when Brailsford was first charged, but the video itself was withheld until this morning. NBC notes:

The detective investigating the shooting had agreed Shaver’s movement was similar to reaching for a pistol, but has said it also looked as though Shaver was pulling up his loose-fitting basketball shorts that had fallen down as he was ordered to crawl.

The investigator noted he did not see anything that would have prevented officers from simply handcuffing Shaver as he was on the floor.

Forcing Shaver to crawl toward the police like this increased the likelihood that Shaver would lose balance and make wild movements, and Langley’s bizarre orders were probably confusing even to a sober person.

Oh, and here’s an interesting detail from the Arizona Republic:

The judge did not allow jurors to hear about an etching on the dust cover of the rifle Brailsford used to shoot Shaver, which said “You’re f–ked”, because he felt it was prejudicial.

Shaver’s parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Mesa. Brailsford was fired for poor performance two months after the shooting. Would anybody care to bet that he tries either to get his job back in Mesa or to get a job with another law enforcement agency elsewhere?

This post has been corrected to properly identify that Brailsford was not the officer giving orders in the video.

Source: Arizona Cop Acquitted for Killing Man Crawling Down Hotel Hallway While Begging for His Life – Reason.com

Related: Wife of man killed in Arizona police shooting speaks out – Dec 12, 2017

Is The Average U.S. Speed Limit Dangerously Low?

‘Americans nearly universally speed, and excess speed is a factor in many #accidents. But what if higher speed limits made roads safer?

“We all #speed, yet months and months usually pass between us seeing a crash,” Lt. Megge tells us when we call to discuss #speedlimits. “That tells me that most of us are adequate, safe, reasonable #drivers. #Speeding and #traffic #safety have a small correlation”.’

Continue reading:

Secret Service faces questions about child sex abuse

New revelations about child abuse prompt attorneys who specialize in federal employment law to question the agency’s willingness to hold agents accountable for such serious crimes. This comes at a time when the agency is struggling to overcome scandals, including one in which agents hired prostitutes during a presidential trip to Colombia.

Director of the Secret Service, Joseph Clancy

“From a reading of what is publicly available to me, it appears that the U.S. Secret Service does not wish to be held accountable for how it treats its employees accused of serious crimes against children involving sexual misconduct and/or drugs,” stated Cheri Cannon, a partner at federal employment law firm Tully Rinckey

Continue reading: Secret Service faces questions about child sex abuse

City Council Terminates Police Force—Town Doesn’t Descend into Chaos

“The town of Galveston, Indiana just voted to terminate their police department and contrary to popular belief, chaos has not engulfed the city.”

“Galveston, Indiana is a small town and the likelihood of a crime wave bursting on to the scenes is rare regardless of police presence. However, we’ve seen similar situations involving millions. At the end of 2014, for example, the NYPD stopped doing its job after the murder of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu and something amazing happened — crime went down…”

Continue reading: City Council Terminates Police Force — Town Doesn’t Descend into Chaos

Obama Backs Off Plan to Demilitarize Police After Meeting With Lobbyists

“Instead of standing by his own previous commitment to scale back militarization, Obama was quick to give into police pressure — proving once more that this administration’s seeming willingness to address the root causes behind the issues the United States now faces is nothing more than a slogan.”

Source: Obama Backs Off Plan to Demilitarize Police After Meeting With Lobbyists

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