Abuse of Power by Ordinary Cops

The very best cops in this country are the ones you never hear about.  They go about their thankless jobs, they stick their necks out every day, trying to make the world a safer place.  They sweep drunks off the street at 3:00 a.m.  They fill out paperwork constantly.  One their days off, their neighbors expect them to act as the neighborhood security guard, referee and guidance counselor.  One fellow I know was a cop for several years, and upon leaving the profession, one of the first things he noticed was that his nose stopped hurting.  Apparently he got into street fights every night, through no fault of his own, and it was just part of the job.

For a good overview of the dirty work performed by ordinary cops, read What Cops Really Do.

In fact, I've known a lot of people who have been law enforcement officers, and a few who still are, and they truly are America's Finest.  Without people like them, this country (or any other) would be an awful place to live, because there are so many nearby residents who simply won't behave themselves without forcible external control (for a number of reasons).

But unfortunately there are also the cops at the bottom of the curve.  The ones who are only marginally qualified.  The ones who should be at the city jail — on the other side of the bars.  The ones who are only working as cops because that's the best job they can get at the moment.  And worst of all, the ones with more ego than brains:  self-important badge-happy goons who should never have been hired.  Generally, cops of this sort are only found in small towns, because the police departments in major cities filter their applicants quite stringently.

In some cases, formerly reasonable men and women have been put into positions where they have to justify their paychecks by generating revenue for the cities that hired them.  It is a stereotype I'm sure you know very well:  There's a cop in every small town handing out speeding tickets to tourists on the biggest highway around.  But stereotypes don't just materialize out of nowhere.  There really are small towns that make a lot of money off the speeders on interstate highways.  Rather than taking a bite out of genuine crime, many cops spend their days hiding in the roadside bushes with a radar gun and writing tickets.  This sort of activity has very little to do with public safety, but is instead a pretense to stop passing motorists and search their cars for guns, drugs, seat belt violators, or any of several other petty offenses.  If you fail the "attitude test", you'll pay dearly.  You might assume they're just following orders, but you might be wrong.

This page shows some examples of what can happen when local and state police agencies have too much power, too little restraint, and too many bad ideas.




Subtopics:

The local police have been given too much authority
Surveillance cameras
Warrantless GPS tracking
The militarization of the police
Ordinary cops have too much fire power
The use of drones against civilians
Seat belt laws
You're guilty of something, we just need to figure out what it is
No offense is too petty to overlook
Cops believe their computer terminals, no matter what they say
Cops believe their polygraph machines, no matter what they say
Please refrain from defending your own life and property
Warrantless searches
SWAT teams
Cops and their dogs
Cops and your dog
Excessive force
Anything you have ever said can be used against you
Stingray and Dirtbox
Laptop computer searches and seizures
Radar traps
Parking tickets and other fundraising mechanisms
Cops will not stand for insults
Wasted money
Incompetence
Selective enforcement
Other objectionable traits
Property seizures
The War on Little Kids with Lemonade Stands
Video recordings of the police
Video recordings made by the police
The use of Traffic Signals as Fundraisers
The use and abuse of Tasers



Related pages:

The Road to Tyranny is All Downhill From Here
Abuse of Power
The Use of 9-1-1 as a Weapon
Snitch on your neighbor
Zero-Tolerance Laws
Cases in which guns saved lives
The Police State on the Subway
Gun Control
Abusive and Invasive Searches at the Airport
The Homeland Security report on right wingers
Waco
Waco II
The case of Steven Hatfill
Ruby Ridge
FEMA — the Federal Emergency Management Agency
The Invasion of the Food Police
Carnivore, Einstein, Tempest, and Echelon
Domestic surveillance
Hate Crime Laws
The Proposed National ID Card



"There is not a truth existing which I fear
or would wish unknown to the whole world.
"

Thomas Jefferson             


The local police have been given too much authority

Residents criticize roadblocks in search for Pennsylvania ambush suspect.  Last week, troopers issued a "shelter-in-place" order that kept some residents from leaving their houses for more than a day; those who weren't already at home could not go back.  Residents contend the directive left elderly relatives unattended and pets unfed, and resulted in lost wages for workers who couldn't leave their houses.  The American Red Cross opened a shelter for displaced residents from two townships late Monday [9/22/2014].

Suspect in Pennsylvania trooper slaying planned for months, police say.  "Based on our investigations, we know Frein has prepared and planned extensively for months or maybe years," State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said Sunday [9/21/2014].  He planned his attack and retreat.  However, we believe we are closing in on him." [...] Frein is on the run and possibly armed, but there is no indication that he is a danger to anyone other than law enforcement, Bivens said.

[Italics added.]

The Editor says...
If the suspect at large is no danger "to anyone other than law enforcement," why are the neighborhood residents being kept out of their own homes?

An Open Letter To My Friends In Law Enforcement.  Let me just be blunt: ever since Ronald Reagan left office, both Republican and Democrat presidential administrations — along with both Republican and Democrat congresses — in Washington, D.C. are turning the United States of America into a giant Police State. [...] The totalitarian regimes of history could not have succeeded in implementing their enslavements over the people without the submission and cooperation of the citizen-policemen within their countries.  Nor can a Police State be constructed in America without your submission and cooperation.  My concern is, the Police State is already being constructed in this country; and most of you don't seem to even realize it — or don't want to realize it.  In fact, some of you become angry with people like me when we try to warn the American people about it.  This shows that you have already become acclimated and accepting of it.  Here is the problem:  in today's America, virtually every police agency and sheriff's office is being dictated to, intimidated by, and bribed by the federal government.  Much of the policies you operate under — and training you receive — comes straight out of the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Justice Department.

America's expanding police state.  Keep in mind, people in the political class constantly reveal their contempt for regular citizens.  That contempt is the inevitable result of a group of people who have convinced themselves that big government is necessary because the little people can't control their own lives.  These same politicians and bureaucrats then begin to see themselves a genuinely better than everyone else.  After all, if they were just like us, then they'd be part of the rabble, and they can't have that.  The solution to their dilemma is a police state.

Supreme Court: Pennsylvania cops no longer need a warrant to search citizens' vehicles.  Pennsylvania police officers no longer need a warrant to search a citizen's vehicle, according to a recent state Supreme Court opinion.  The high court's opinion, released Tuesday [4/29/2014], is being called a drastic change in citizens' rights and police powers.  Previously, citizens could refuse an officer's request to search a vehicle.  In most cases, the officer would then need a warrant — signed by a judge — to conduct the search.  That's no longer the case, according to the opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery.  The ruling, passed on a 4-2 vote, was made in regard to an appeal from a 2010 vehicle stop in Philadelphia.

Checkpoint Charlie:
Police halt Montgomery County commuters on I-270 to hunt for bank robbery suspects.  Police arrested three bank robbery suspects in Montgomery County on Tuesday after officers set up a roadblock on Interstate 270 and walked car to car with pistols, shotguns and semiautomatic rifles drawn.  The rapid show of force stunned late-morning commuters but allowed officers to nab the trio 44 minutes after the robbery.  "I guess it turned out well, so it's hard to argue with success," said Don Troop, who was heading to the District when traffic came to halt.  A group of officers made its way to his car and other cars around him.  "They were just walking along saying: 'Pop the trunk!  Pop the trunk!'"

Horror: Police force man to undergo invasive anal operation.  When New Mexico police stopped a local driver for committing a minor moving violation, they decided to check whether he was carrying drugs in his anus.  So they procured a warrant, drove him to two different hospitals, forced him to endure eight medical procedures — including an invasive colonoscopy — and stuck him with the bill.  No drugs were found.

The Drift toward Despotism.  David Eckert was pulled over by police in Deming, N.M., for failing to come to a complete halt at a stop sign in the Walmart parking lot.  He was asked to step out of the vehicle, and waited on the sidewalk.  Officers decided that they didn't like the tight clench of his buttocks, a subject on which New Mexico's constabulary is apparently expert, and determined that it was because he had illegal drugs secreted therein.

Supreme Court appears to support a warrantless police search.  In a case that could narrow legal protections against police searches, a majority of Supreme Court justices sounded ready Wednesday [11/13/2013] to reject an appeal from an imprisoned Los Angeles gang member who contended that after he objected to a search and was then taken away under arrest, police unconstitutionally entered his apartment.  Justices appeared to agree with attorneys for the Los Angeles Police Department, who defended the search as legal because the gang member, Walter Fernandez, was not present and his girlfriend gave police permission to enter their home.

E-ZPasses Get Read All Over New York — Not Just At Toll Booths.  After spotting a police car with two huge boxes on its trunk — that turned out to be license-plate-reading cameras — a man in New Jersey became obsessed with the loss of privacy for vehicles on American roads.  The man, who goes by the Internet handle "Puking Monkey," did an analysis of the many ways his car could be tracked and stumbled upon something rather interesting:  his E-ZPass, which he obtained for the purpose of paying tolls, was being used to track his car in unexpected places, far away from any toll booths.

The Real Purpose of Oakland's Surveillance Center.  City leaders have argued that Oakland needs a massive surveillance system to combat violent crime, but internal documents reveal that city staffers are also focused on tracking political protesters.

NYPD Designates Mosques as Terrorism Organizations.  The New York Police Department has secretly labeled entire mosques as terrorist organizations, a designation that allows police to use informants to record sermons and spy on imams, often without specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing.  Designating an entire mosque as a terrorism enterprise means that anyone who attends prayer services there is a potential subject of an investigation and fair game for surveillance.

The Editor says...
What's the difference between that and profiling?  And where are the "separation of church and state" people now?

Turning public schools into forts.  [A]s I point out in my book, "A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State," with every school police raid and overzealous punishment that is carried out in the name of school safety, the lesson being imparted is that Americans — especially young people — have no rights at all against the state or the police.  Indeed, the majority of schools today have adopted an all-or-nothing lockdown mindset that leaves little room for freedom, individuality or due process.

Supreme Court OKs DNA swab in serious arrests.  A narrowly divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that police can collect DNA from people arrested but not yet convicted of serious crimes, a tool that more than half the states already use to help crack unsolved crimes.  The case, described by Justice Samuel Alito as "the most important criminal procedure case that this court has heard in decades," represented a classic test between modern crime-fighting technology and centuries-old privacy rights.

Law enforcement applaud ruling on DNA swabbing.  The Supreme Court has ruled that is now legal for law enforcement to take the DNA of people arrested, even though they have not yet been convicted of a crime.  The decision was a big victory to police and victim rights groups in the fight over how and when your DNA can be used, with the justices being nearly split down the middle.

Court: Police can take DNA swabs from arrestees.  A sharply divided Supreme Court on Monday [6/3/2013] cleared the way for police to take a DNA swab from anyone they arrest for a serious crime, endorsing a practice now followed by more than half the states as well as the federal government.

Court's DNA Ruling Brings U.S. a Step Closer to 'Gattaca'.  The day that DNA cheek swabs officially became the new fingerprints deserves to be marked and remembered — and not just because of the inevitable march of technology.  No, the Supreme Court's 5-4 holding today [6/3/2013] in Maryland v. King, that anyone arrested for a "serious crime" can have his or her DNA taken without any suspicion, is a landmark because it represents a major step toward a "Gattaca" world.  This means that evidence of a crime can be collected without any particular suspicion, avoiding the pesky requirement of a warrant that the Founding Fathers thought would give us liberty and privacy.

A few days later...
Off-duty cops collect DNA samples at Alabama roadblocks.  Off-duty cops in two counties in Alabama spent the weekend collecting saliva and blood samples from drivers at roadblocks.  According to Lt. Freddie Turrentine with the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department, drivers were asked to voluntarily offer samples of their saliva and blood for a study being conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.

Why were roadblocks in St. Clair and Bibb counties asking for blood and DNA samples this weekend?  St. Clair and Bibb county authorities are confirming there were roadblocks at several locations in their counties Friday and Saturday [June 7-8, 2013] asking for blood and DNA samples.  However, the samples were voluntary and motorists were paid for them as part of a study, they said.  According to Lt. Freddie Turrentine of the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department, it isn't the first time such roadblocks have occurred in the area.

The Editor says...
The samples were voluntary, huh?  How voluntary is it when the police stop your car on an Alabama highway and demand evidence?  I suspect you'll be detained until the cops get what they want.  Is it legal for off duty cops to set up a roadblock?  It sounds like an Alabama shakedown to me.

Police Agencies Are Assembling Records of DNA.  Slowly, and largely under the radar, a growing number of local law enforcement agencies across the country have moved into what had previously been the domain of the F.B.I. and state crime labs — amassing their own DNA databases of potential suspects, some collected with the donors' knowledge, and some without it.

Another instance, in another state:
Pa. town latest to force drivers over and ask for cheek swabs for federal study.  Drivers in a southeastern Pennsylvania town were forced off a local street and into a parking lot, so a federal contractor — aided by local police — could quiz them about their road habits and ask for a cheek swab, in a replay of an incident last month in Texas.  The checkpoint, in downtown Reading, was one of several conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, which was hired by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Motorist checkpoint in Reading draws questions.  A private firm with a federal contract — and backed up by city police — forced motorists off Laurel Street and into a private parking lot Friday [12/13/2013] to question them about their driving habits and ask for a swab of their mouth.  "I feel this incident is a gross abuse of power on many levels," Reading resident Ricardo Nieves, one of those stopped, told City Council Monday.  He said federal and local tax dollars were being used to stop innocent people without probable cause, and allow a private company to hire uniformed police to force citizens to listen to their questions.  He said he wasn't told what the swab was for, but added, "Clearly it was for DNA."

Police presence at traffic stop troubling.  Appearance is everything.  So when a police car's lights are flashing along the side of a city street lined with cones, and someone forces motorists into a parking lot that contains uniformed city police, forgive the motorists for believing police are operating that checkpoint.  And when people with no ID tell motorists they want to ask about their driving habits but also ask for a mouth swab, forgive the motorists for believing they want a DNA sample without a warrant.  And when the same people say the questions and the swab are voluntary but don't take no for an answer, forgive the motorists for thinking it's not really voluntary after all.  Because that's the way it's supposed to appear:  not voluntary.

Red flags raised after local drivers asked for DNA samples at police checkpoint.  Drivers in St. Charles County were asked to take part in a government survey that involved the odd request of blood and saliva samples.  One driver who emailed News 4 said a deputy and others dressed in safety vests directed drivers to take part and answer questions about alcohol and driving.  The study is being conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and is supposed to be voluntary.  Constitutional Law attorney Bob Herman said the study does raise some red flags.

NTSB recommends lowering blood alcohol level that constitutes drunk driving.  The National Transportation Safety Board voted to recommend to states that they lower the blood-alcohol content that constitutes drunken driving.  Currently, all 50 states have set a BAC level of .08, reflecting the percentage of alcohol, by volume, in the blood.  If a driver is found to have a BAC level of .08 or above, he or she is subject to arrest and prosecution.

The Real Threat to America.  Of the many uncomfortable truths emerging from last week's bombing and subsequent manhunt — including the fact that American cities are still vulnerable to Islamic terrorism — one of the most troubling but least talked-about is the fact that martial law may now become part of the municipal playbook.  It was not two immigrant brothers — "losers," their uncle called them — who closed down Boston, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, put military vehicles in its streets, and sent men in helmets and flak jackets into peoples' homes.  It was our elected leaders:  our local, state, and federal political officials and law-enforcement authorities.  If any Bostonians objected to having their civil liberties trampled on, they were drowned out by their cheering neighbors who massed in the streets to celebrate the authorities who had turned their city into something resembling Fallujah under American military occupation.

Stop-and-Frisk Practice Violated Rights, Judge Rules.  A federal judge ruled on Monday [8/12/2013] that the stop-and-frisk tactics of the New York Police Department violated the constitutional rights of minorities in the city, repudiating a major element in the Bloomberg administration's crime-fighting legacy.  The use of police stops has been widely cited by city officials as a linchpin of New York's success story in seeing murders and major crimes fall to historic lows.

The Editor says...
Martial law would bring the crime rate to historic lows, too, but is that the kind of country we want to live in?

Ted Nugent to Newsmax: 'Stop and Frisk Violates the 4th Amendment'.  "As I sit here with you today, I am convinced that the concept of stop-and-frisk violates the Fourth Amendment," Nugent said in an exclusive interview with Newsmax before taking the stage at the packed House of Blues in Orlando.  "But I don't agree with the judge in New York — that gal that presumed the cops are stopping someone based on the color of their skin.  "That is wrong.  They do not profile based on color of skin.  They profile on suspicious behavior.  It's a behavioral response, not an ethnic or skin-color response.  I am certain of that."

Stop-and-Frisk in Court, Police Testify About Orders to Increase Stops.  The NYPD's stop and frisk program began in 2002 and since then, according to data compiled by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the police have conducted 4 million such "interrogations," peaking in 2011 with 685,724.  The vast majority of stops are of blacks and Hispanics.  Little more than ten percent end in any kind of summons.  The program is currently being challenged in court, where testimony yesterday [3/21/2013] revealed police officers were ordered to increase their number of stop and frisks.

Opposing viewpoint #1:
How to Increase the Crime Rate Nationwide:  A racial-profiling lawsuit over the New York Police Department's "stop, question and frisk" policies is now in the hands of a judge whose decision is expected within weeks. [...] A decision against the NYPD would almost certainly inspire similar suits by social-justice organizations against police departments elsewhere.  The national trend of declining crime could hang in the balance.  And the primary victims of such a reversal would be the inner-city minorities whose safety seems not to figure into attempts to undermine successful police tactics.

Opposing viewpoint #2:
Don't Stop Frisking.  Since the early 1990s the New York Police Department has used a crime-prevention strategy that it calls "stop, question, and frisk."  Accordingly, officers stop and question a person based on reasonable suspicion and sometimes pat down the clothing of the individual to ensure that he is not armed.  The department credits the strategy in large part for the huge declines in murder and major crimes over two decades in what is now the nation's safest big city.

Gun Conviction Buckles Under Stop and Frisk.  Police officers may question an individual "where there is an 'objective, credible reason, not necessarily indicative of criminality,' to initiate the level one encounter," the unsigned opinion states.  [Jeffrey] Johnson's conduct, however, "did not provide an objective credible reason" for the officers to question him.  The officers said their suspicions were heightened because of a history of crime and drug dealing in the building, but the appellate majority rejected that explanation.

Technologies of Surveillance.  The NYPD is testing a new type of security apparatus that uses terahertz radiation to detect guns under clothing from a distance.  As Police Commissioner Ray Kelly explained to the "Daily News" back in January, If something is obstructing the flow of that radiation — a weapon, for example — the device will highlight that object.  Ignore, for a moment, the glaring constitutional concerns, which make the stop-and-frisk debate pale in comparison:  virtual strip-searching, evasion of probable cause, potential racial profiling. [...] We're scared of both terrorism and crime, even as the risks decrease; and when we're scared, we're willing to give up all sorts of freedoms to assuage our fears.  Often, the courts go along.

NYPD Commissioner says department will begin testing a new high-tech device that scans for concealed weapons.  The department just received a machine that reads terahertz [sic] — the natural energy emitted by people and inanimate objects — and allows police to view concealed weapons from a distance.  "If something is obstructing the flow of that radiation, for example a weapon, the device will highlight that object," Kelly said.  A video image aired at a Police Foundation breakfast Wednesday [1/23/2013] showed an officer, clad in a New York Jets jersey and jeans, with the shape of a hidden gun clearly visible under his clothing when viewed through the device.

The Editor says...
No doubt the system is being fine-tuned to search for marijuana.  Overlapping objects could easily appear to be a gun, which could lead to an unfortunate misunderstanding.

Arkansas police photograph license plates, store data.  Little Rock may not be a likely terrorism target or a gang crime hotspot, but the Arkansas capital has decided to follow the example of high-security cities by expanding electronic surveillance of its streets.

Could Martial Law Be Right Around The Corner For Americans?  Merely a week after military exercises featuring Blackhawk helicopters were flown over the Miami skyline, the Florida Highway Patrol has informed the public that it will set up "vehicle inspection checkpoints" on specific roadways in at least six Florida counties that will be established during daytime hours.  State troopers will be requesting drivers licenses and conducting a visual inspection of every third vehicle once the checkpoint has been established.

Dear Mr. Security Agent,  Today, we already see genital groping by federal agents and at least one Texas state trooper who was caught on film.  Their goal is not "public safety," but public humiliation, intimidation, and control.  Cowing the peasants into meek obeisance to unchecked authority.  Can waterboarding American "detainees" in clandestine torture centers really be that far behind?

Ron Paul Correctly Rebuts LaPierre's Call For Fed to Fund Armed School Guards.  With just days remaining in his final term in Congress, veteran congressman Ron Paul has come out strongly against NRA President Wayne LaPierre's recommendation that armed officers should be stationed in schools nationwide.  Paul has consistently called attention to the growing technological apparatus of the police state -- surveillance cameras, metal detectors, X-ray scanners and other intrusive devices aimed at keeping tabs on criminals and ordinary citizens — some of which are necessary, other parts of which are questionable and objectionable.

Guns and the Government.  The Supreme Court has ruled consistently and countless times that the "police power," that is, the power to regulate for health, safety, welfare and morality, continues to be reposed in the states, and that there is no federal police power.

You Are Being Tracked: How License Plate Readers Are Being Used to Record Americans' Movements.  A little noticed surveillance technology, designed to track the movements of every passing driver, is fast proliferating on America's streets.  Automatic license plate readers, mounted on police cars or on objects like road signs and bridges, use small, high-speed cameras to photograph thousands of plates per minute.  The information captured by the readers — including the license plate number, and the date, time, and location of every scan — is being collected and sometimes pooled into regional sharing systems.

The next NSA? Police departments under scrutiny for phone, license plate surveillance.  The NSA isn't the only government agency raising concerns about electronic privacy.  Local police departments are coming under similar scrutiny — not only for using spying technology, but for hiding their use from the public.  At least 25 police departments now use what is known as "Stingray," a briefcase-sized box that swallows up cell phone data within a mile radius.  More than one in three large police departments are also using license-plate readers, which can record every plate — even on a four-lane highway — from vehicles going at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour.

Oklahoma Robo Cop Alert!  It's called ALPR-Automatic License Plate Reader, and these things are all the rage.  ALPRs are not ordinary cameras.  Attached to police cruisers, or fixed on telephone poles or other stationary places, the cameras snap an image of nearly every license plate they encounter.  The device produces a file for each image captured, which includes searchable text displaying the time, date and GPS location of the car when and where the plate was 'read'.  This information is fed into a database, where it can be shared with other agencies and databases, and "mined" or analyzed.

Automated License Plate Readers Threaten Our Privacy.  Law enforcement agencies are increasingly using sophisticated cameras, called "automated license plate readers" or ALPR, to scan and record the license plates of millions of cars across the country. [...] Photographing a single license plate one time on a public city street may not seem problematic, but when that data is put into a database, combined with other scans of that same plate on other city streets, and stored forever, it can become very revealing.

It's not about public safety.  It's all about raising money for the state government.
Oklahoma HB 2525.  HB 2525 will allow police to pull you over... Not because you are speeding, not because you are driving erratically, but to check and see if your auto insurance is expired.  In fact, it can be the primary reason you are pulled over. ... Plain and simple, HB 2525 is ripe for abuse and would let the police pull you over for any reason they wanted.  All they would have to say is that they were checking to see if your insurance is current.

HB 2525 would allow stops for no insurance.  The proposed law, House Bill 2525, would allow law enforcement officers to pull over a vehicle if they believe it is uninsured.  Currently, officers do not have "probable cause for a stop" on that basis alone.

A blogger was dragged off to a mental ward because of his Facebook posts.  Exactly what you'd expect in North Korea, China, or Cuba.
'Outraged' judge frees veteran Raub from Virginia psych ward.  [Scroll down]  His saga began Aug. 16.  That's when [Brandon] Raub was taken into custody at his Richmond home by FBI and Secret Service agents and Chesterfield County Police.  He was not charged with a crime, yet he was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police vehicle.  From there, Mr. Raub was taken to a police station and then to the John Randolph Medical Facility in Hopewell, Va., for a psychiatric evaluation.  He was never formally arrested or charged with a crime, Mr. Whitehead said.  "He was in his underwear, in his living room, he sees a group of police, FBI agents walking up, he talks with them, he's asked about some Facebook postings, they handcuff him," Mr. Whitehead said.

There is more about Brandon Raub on this page.

The Case Against Driver's Licenses:  Even a person merely walking down the street, having committed no crime, can be compelled to produce his ID.  And if that person lacks an ID, that person will very likely be arrested on the spot and held until his identity is ascertained.  This is the reality of Homeland America.  You must have permission to move.  You do not move freely.  Even if you are walking.

When Government Knows No Limitation: New DOJ Rules Allow More Intrusive Searches.  Shouldn't law-abiding citizens be able to live their lives free from the fear that our own government would underhandedly manipulate our rights in their pursuit of an investigation?  After all, the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution enumerates a limitation on the federal government, one that prevents "unreasonable search and seizure."  Today, this enumerated protection is being ignored by — of all institutions — the U.S. Justice Department, under the darkened shadow of Attorney General Eric Holder.

The Indiana Supreme Court Guts the Fourth Amendment.  A ruling by the state of Indiana's Supreme Court last Thursday [5/12/2011] in Barnes vs. Indiana has seemingly vacated the Constitution's Fourth Amendment provision against unreasonable search and seizure.  The case involved a domestic dispute and the Court ruled 3-2 that police can force their way into a person's home without a warrant if they deem such entry is necessary.

Court: No right to resist illegal cop entry into home.  Overturning a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday [5/12/2011] that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes.  In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer's entry.

Supreme Court gives police a new entryway into homes.  The Supreme Court, in an 8-1 decision in a Kentucky case, says police officers who loudly knock on a door in search of illegal drugs and then hear sounds suggesting evidence is being destroyed may break down the door and enter without a search warrant.

Department of Pre-Crime.  Moral of this story:  If you hear the cops at the door, quietly get off the john, and whatever you do, don't flush.  Read the whole account of the case, which ought to get your blood boiling.

Indiana Sheriff: If We Need to Conduct Random House to House Searches We Will.  According to Newton County Sheriff, Don Hartman Sr., random house to house searches are now possible and could be helpful following the Barnes v. State of Indiana Supreme Court ruling issued on May 12th, 2011.  When asked three separate times due to the astounding callousness as it relates to trampling the inherent natural rights of Americans, he emphatically indicated that he would use random house to house checks, adding he felt people will welcome random searches if it means capturing a criminal.

Giving too much license to cops.  A series of recent court rulings, including one this week from the US Supreme Court, appear to erode one of our bedrock defenses against the arbitrary, abusive power of the state.  At risk:  the Fourth Amendment guarantee to all American citizens of the right to be "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures."

Home Insecurity.  While the U.S. Supreme Court said police may force their way into a home to prevent the destruction of evidence, the Indiana Supreme Court, in a less noticed decision issued the week before, said police may force their way into a home for any reason or no reason at all.  Although the victim of an illegal search can challenge it in court after the fact, three of the five justices agreed, "there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers."  They thereby nullified a principle of common law that is centuries old, arguably dating back to the Magna Carta.

US Police State Begins Exponential Expansion.  The recent Indiana Supreme Court ruling against the US Constitution, rendering the Fourth Amendment null and void in that State by patently leftist activist judges, is only the latest unconscionable step in a series of actions designed to unravel each and every portion of the Bill of Rights.  It is also one of the latest actions designed to compliment and enhance the already jack-booted Obama police State march into our States, our cities and homes.

Rally held in protest of 'unlawful police entry' ruling by Indiana Supreme Court.  Protesters showed up on the south steps of the Indiana Statehouse Wednesday [5/25/2011], to rally against a controversial ruling by the Indiana Supreme Court.  The ruling, which allows police to enter your home without a warrant, sparked threatening emails and phone calls from those angry with the court's decision.

High court urged to rethink ruling on resisting police.  A group of 71 state lawmakers is asking the Indiana Supreme Court to reconsider a ruling that says people don't have the right to resist police officers who enter their homes illegally.

Tennessee Speeders Could Get Fingerprinted.  Motorists stopped for traffic violations in Tennessee could be fingerprinted if state lawmakers approve a bill pending in the legislature.  Currently, when drivers are cited during traffic stops, police officers ask for the driver's signature on the ticket, but the proposed bill would allow police departments to eliminate signatures and collect fingerprints.

Cops pay 3 a.m. visit to tell man his door is unlocked.  A Lakeville man says he feels violated after two police officers woke him up at 3 a.m. to tell him his door was unlocked.  Their surprise visit was part of a public service campaign to remind residents to secure their homes to prevent thefts.

The Editor says...
This is just inexcusable conduct on the part of the local cops.  Leaving the door to one's house unlocked is not a crime, and with no evidence of a crime in progress, the police had no right to enter the house.  It is the police officers who were violating the law in this case, and if they were to face civil liability for their actions, it would go a long way toward preventing the spread of this behavior.  If these "public service campaign[s]" go unchallenged, police departments in other cities will try them out.

Stories of Anguish at the Hands of Police:  Nine stories of abuse at the hands of California policemen.

California police state:  The totalitarians are fully in control of America's largest state.  The California Supreme Court ruled 4-3 last Thursday [1/24/2002] that police in the state may search cars if a driver fails to produce a license or registration, regardless of whether the officer has a warrant.

Washington DC is a police state.
Walled-Off Washington.  It's hard to remember, but Washington wasn't always a city of walls.  Thomas Jefferson held a public reception at the White House after his second inaugural, and citizens were able to freely wander through the building to personally ask presidents like Abraham Lincoln for jobs and other favors.  Harry Truman took long walks around Washington each morning protected by just a handful of Secret Service agents.  Capitol Hill had no roadblocks or barricades, and cars and trucks passed directly in front of the White House as they drove down Pennsylvania Avenue, one of the city's busiest thoroughfares.

The End of "The Right to Remain Silent":  Every kid who has watched a re-run of TV cop shows knows that "you have the right to remain silent" when the police come knocking.  Except that, now, you don't.  In Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District of Nevada, the Supreme Court, in one stroke, turned Justice Jackson's advice on its head, and turned generations of TV cop shows into so much false advertising.  Silence, said the Court, is not only not privileged:  it can get you thrown in jail.

Court Opens Door To Searches Without Warrants.  It's a groundbreaking court decision that legal experts say will affect everyone:  Police officers in Louisiana no longer need a search or arrest warrant to conduct a brief search of your home or business.  Leaders in law enforcement say it will keep officers safe, but others argue it's a privilege that could be abused.

None Dare Call It Fascism.  Fascism operates under the principle of "might makes right," through the exercise of raw, naked governmental police power.  In America today, the increasingly rough-shod violation of constitutional rights by government agents in the name of "protecting the environment" or the "war on drugs" is an indication of how far we are proceeding in this direction.

Busting Posse Comitatus: Military Cops Arrest Civilians in Florida City.  In Homestead, Florida, Posse Comitatus is dead.  The Air Force now responds to civilian crime in the small city, population around 30,000.  "Here at Homestead Air Reserve Base we have the Crime Stop hotline that allows anyone either on base or off the installation to anonymously report a crime," explains the Homestead Air Reserve Base website.

Police Turn to Secret Weapon:  GPS Device.  Across the country, police are using GPS devices to snare thieves, drug dealers, sexual predators and killers, often without a warrant or court order.  Privacy advocates said tracking suspects electronically constitutes illegal search and seizure, violating Fourth Amendment rights of protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, and is another step toward George Orwell's Big Brother society.

Random Pat-Downs Turn PATCO Into Police State.  Commuters who ride PATCO trains between southern New Jersey and Philadelphia should expect random searches of their clothing, pockets, bags and vehicles on their morning trip to work.  Twelve Transportation Security Administration screeners, armed with an explosive-sniffing K-9, checked 663 commuter bags randomly selected from the morning rush at the Lindenwold station Tuesday [9/7/2010]. ... "We can conduct any kind of search we want," said [Delaware River Port Authority Police Chief David] McClintock.

Wisconsin court upholds GPS tracking by police.  Wisconsin police can attach GPS to cars to secretly track anybody's movements without obtaining search warrants, an appeals court ruled Thursday [5/7/2009].

Courts Divided on Police Use of GPS Tracking.  If a police officer puts a GPS tracking device on your car, should he or she have to get a warrant first?  It's a simple question, but one, so far, without a clear legal answer.  In an example of how unsettled the issue is, in just the past week, appeals courts in two different states delivered completely opposite rulings.

Supreme Court to Decide Constitutionality of Warrantless GPS Monitoring.  At the Obama administration's urging, the Supreme Court agreed Monday [6/27/2011] to review whether the government, without a court warrant, may affix GPS devices on suspects' vehicles to track their every move.  The Justice Department told the justices that "a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements from one place to another," and demanded the justices undo a lower court decision that reversed the conviction and life sentence of a cocaine dealer whose vehicle was tracked via GPS for a month without a court warrant.

Officer admits to hiding GPS device in woman's car.  A former Costa Mesa police officer has admitted to hiding a Global Positioning System device in a woman's car without her knowledge, court records show.  Aaron Paul Parsons pleaded no contest Monday to a misdemeanor charge of unlawfully using an electronic tracking device, according to Orange County Superior Court records.

Cops must get warrant if DUI suspect balks at blood test.  Blood samples taken from motorists without their explicit on-the-spot consent can't be used to convict them of drunken driving, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Monday.  The justices acknowledged Arizona has an "implied consent" law saying motorists agree to provide a sample of blood, breath or urine for testing if they are charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Supreme Court to decide whether police can take your blood without your permission.  The case involves a traffic stop in Missouri, but its ramifications could range far wider, potentially rewriting drunk-driving laws in all 50 states.  "It comes down, basically, to are you going to see blood draws every single time someone gets pulled over for a DUI," said Michael A. Correll, a litigator with the international law firm Alston & Bird, who examined the legality of blood draws in the West Virginia Law Review last year.

The NDAA Repeals More Rights.  Innocent people are wrongly accused all the time.  The Bill of Rights is there precisely because the founders wanted to set a very high bar for the government to overcome in order to deprive an individual of life or liberty.  To lower that bar is to endanger everyone.  When the bar is low enough to include political enemies, our descent into totalitarianism is virtually assured.

Protests Near Secret Service Protected Folk Effectively Outlawed.  In case you question the value of having a Justin Amash or a Ron Paul in the House of Representatives, they were two of only three votes against H.R. 347, the "Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011." ... Although [Secret Service] protection isn't extended to just everybody, making it a federal offense to even accidently disrupt an event attended by a person with such status essentially crushes whatever currently remains of the right to assemble and peacefully protest.

Can the Secret Service Tell You To Shut Up?  When the Framers of the Constitution wrote the First Amendment, they lived in a society in which anyone could walk up to George Washington or John Adams or Thomas Jefferson on a public street and say directly to them whatever one wished.  They never dreamed of a regal-like force of armed agents keeping public officials away from the public, as we have today.  And they never imagined that it could be a felony for anyone to congregate in public within earshot or eyesight of certain government officials.  And yet, today in America, it is.

Another Brick Removed.  HR 347 was recently signed into law by President Obama.  This statute had wide support amongst both parties of Congress.  In essence, it criminalizes disruptive behavior upon government grounds, at specially designated national events (Super Bowl, nominating conventions, etc.) and anywhere that Secret Service is protecting "any" person.  Obviously, the goal of this law is to enhance the ability of the Secret Service to protect those persons it is charged to do so; but in extending this power, this law eviscerates the citizens' rights to assemble and petition under the First Amendment.

Surveillance without proper authority is illegal.  On June 2, 2009, a janitor in an office building in New Brunswick, N.J., noticed what he thought was terrorist-related literature and sophisticated surveillance equipment in an office he had been assigned to clean.  He told his boss, who called the local police, who notified the FBI.  Later in the day, the FBI and the New Brunswick police broke into the office and discovered five men busily operating the equipment.  Four of the men were officers from the New York City Police Department, and the fifth was a CIA agent.  The conundrum faced by all of these public servants soon became apparent.  Who should arrest whom?

Supreme Court Ruling Allows Strip-Searches for Any Offense.  The Supreme Court on Monday ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband.  Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, joined by the court's conservative wing, wrote that courts are in no position to second-guess the judgments of correctional officials who must consider not only the possibility of smuggled weapons and drugs but also public health and information about gang affiliations.

Kentucky Supreme Court Rules Highway Checkpoints Illegal.  Kentucky's Supreme Court has ruled that highway checkpoints of drivers who refused to display a $10 city sticker in their window are in fact unconstitutional and therefore, illegal.  The city of Liberty required all 1,850 residents and anyone working within the city limits to purchase and display the sticker, but teachers at a local school had failed to do so, prompting local police to take action.  Those individuals who refused to purchase a $10 sticker and place it in their vehicle windows were targeted by city officials, who mandated that police set up roadblocks.

The Forfeiture Racket: Police and prosecutors won't give up their license to steal.  [Scroll down]  Criminal forfeiture can also prevent defendants from effectively contesting the charges against them.  When the DEA accuses a doctor of illegally prescribing pain medication, for example, one of the first actions it takes is to freeze his assets for possible forfeiture.  Since most doctors make their entire living from their practice, nearly everything they own can be frozen.  Many accused doctors therefore don't have the resources to hire legal representation, much less experts to counter government assertions that they're prescribing controlled substances outside the normal practice of medicine.  Forfeiture makes it nearly impossible for them to mount a credible defense.

FBI, DEA warn IPv6 could shield criminals from police.  Relax.  This has nothing to do with criminals.  It's cop bluster designed to get us to wiretap ourselves "before the cops get Congress to force us to".

We Don't Need No Stinking Warrant: The Disturbing, Unchecked Rise of the Administrative Subpoena.  Meet the administrative subpoena:  With a federal official's signature, banks, hospitals, bookstores, telecommunications companies and even utilities and internet service providers — virtually all businesses — are required to hand over sensitive data on individuals or corporations, as long as a government agent declares the information is relevant to an investigation.  Via a wide range of laws, Congress has authorized the government to bypass the Fourth Amendment — the constitutional guard against unreasonable searches and seizures that requires a probable-cause warrant signed by a judge.

DNA test jailed innocent man for murder.  Scientists, lawyers and politicians have raised new concerns over the quality of forensic evidence testing — so is the criminal justice system too reliant on lab tests without realising their limitations?




Surveillance cameras

Anti-Surveillance Camouflage for Your Face.  I had slathered the paint on my face in order to hide from computers.  The patterns in which I applied the paint were important:  To the pixel-calculating machinations of facial recognition algorithms, they transformed my face into a mess of unremarkable pixels.  In the computer's vision, my face caused a momentary burst of confusion.  That's why the patterns are called computer vision dazzle (or CV dazzle).  When it works, CV dazzle keeps facial-recognition algorithms from seeing a face.

Cameras coming to monitor St. Petersburg trail.  Police will soon have a new tool to protect cyclists and joggers on a crime-ridden stretch of the Pinellas Trail:  camera surveillance. [...] The cameras are unlikely to be monitored 24 hours a day, but police officers would be able to view camera footage from police headquarters and in patrol cars using from laptops and smart phones.

Has the Dept. of Homeland Security become America's standing army?  As Charlie Savage reports for the Boston Globe, the DHS has funneled "millions of dollars to local governments nationwide for purchasing high-tech video camera networks, accelerating the rise of a 'surveillance society' in which the sense of freedom that stems from being anonymous in public will be lost."  These camera systems, installed on city streets, in parks and transit systems, operating in conjunction with sophisticated computer systems that boast intelligent video analytics, digital biometric identification, military-pedigree software for analyzing and predicting crime and facial recognition software, create a vast surveillance network that can target millions of innocent individuals.

New Chicago traffic cams hit as way to track innocent people.  A new traffic camera that gives Chicago police a 360-degree view of an area is being hit as a way to potentially track people with no ties to criminal activity.  The Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday that the American Civil Liberties Union in the state raised concern about using cameras from Xerox State & Local Solutions, while city officials insist they are not abusing citizens' rights.

Court Says Police Can Install Cameras On Your Property Without Warrant If Your Property Is A 'Field'.  This is in response to the two defendants in the case seeking to have footage from said surveillance cameras thrown out in their court case on unreasonable search and seizure grounds.  Judge Griesbach made this ruling on the recommendation of US Magistrate William Callahan, who based his position on a US Supreme Court Case ruling that open fields were not covered under the 4th Amendment and didn't require a warrant. [...] And this doorway to abuse has been opened all because police didn't want to bother to get a search warrant to put video equipment on private property.

Federal Judge OKs Installation of Surveillance Cameras Without a Warrant.  On October 29, a federal district court judge ruled that police can enter onto privately owned property and install secret surveillance cameras without a warrant.  The judge did set forth a few guidelines that must be followed before such activity would be permissible, but the fact that such a scenario is accepted as constitutional by a federal judge is a serious setback for privacy and for the Fourth Amendment.

Surveillance Cameras Are Not All That.  Cameras were a big help in Boston, but that doesn't mean they are generally a good idea.

Mayor Bloomberg admits soon NYPD surveillance cameras will be on nearly every corner.  Envisioning a future where privacy is a thing of the past, Mayor Bloomberg said Friday [3/22/2013] it will soon be impossible to escape the watchful eyes of surveillance cameras and even drones in the city.  He acknowledged privacy concerns, but said "you can't keep the tides from coming in."  "You wait, in five years, the technology is getting better, they'll be cameras everyplace ... whether you like it or not," Bloomberg said.

The Editor interjects...
"Whether you like it or not"?  Is that representative government, or an omnipotent nanny state?

Spy Cameras Won't Make Us Safer.  CCTV cameras have minimal value in the fight against crime.  While it's comforting to imagine vigilant police monitoring every camera, the truth is very different, for a variety of reasons:  technological limitations of cameras, organizational limitations of police, and the adaptive abilities of criminals.  No one looks at most CCTV footage until well after a crime is committed.  And when the police do look at the recordings, it's very common for them to be unable to identify suspects.  Criminals don't often stare helpfully at the lens, and [...] tend to wear sunglasses and hats.  Cameras break far too often. [...] Cameras afford a false sense of security, encouraging laziness when we need police to be vigilant.

GOP Rep. Peter King On Boston Bombing: "We Need More Cameras".  ["]So yes, I do favor more cameras.  They're a great law enforcement method and device.  And again, it keeps us ahead of the terrorists, who are constantly trying to kill us.["]

Boston's Top Cop Warns Against "Police State".  Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis warned against creating a "police state" in the aftermath of the marathon bombings during testimony in front of a congressional hearing today [5/9/2013].  "We do not, and cannot, live in a protective enclosure because of the actions of extremists who seek to disrupt our way of life," Davis told lawmakers, adding "I do not endorse actions that move Boston and our nation into a police state mentality, with surveillance cameras attached to every light pole in the city."

Australian Activist Defeats Spy Cameras In Landmark Case.  Expansion of the global surveillance grid was dealt a major blow in Australia last week after a legal challenge by an individual against the State of New South Wales brought about a landmark ruling.  A local resident opposed to the introduction of CCTV cameras succesfully proved that public surveillance carried out by his city council not only broke Australia's privacy laws, but also did nothing to prevent crime — the supposed reason for its installation.

Seattle [is the] Latest City to Install DHS Surveillance Equipment.  Add Seattle to the list of local governments taking money from the Department of Homeland Security to put their citizens under federal surveillance. [...] Perhaps wiring the city with high-tech, federally funded surveillance equipment is what Seattle mayor meant when he described the city's budget as "a moral document.  It puts resources behind our vision of the city we want to see."  Apparently, part of those resources are coming from the federal government and they are earmarked for use to putting the city under the vision of the Department of Homeland Security.

Is Crazed Super Bowl Security a Taste of America To Come?  In the run-up to Super Bowl XLVIII (just be happy they don't use Egyptian numerals), the New York City Police Department is deploying an "amazing arsenal of security initiatives," including 200 "temporary" surveillance cameras to ensure that dirty deeds remain undone at the big game. [...] But never fear, security at the the Super Bowl itself promises to make attendance at football's championship game an awful lot like spending several hours at a very cold TSA checkpoint — with some watery beer.  Get used to it America, this massive demonstration of pointless security theater just may be a glimpse of the future.

City Wants Surveillance Cameras to Record Every License Plate.  Police in North Carolina want to build surveillance cameras that would record every car license that passes by and run it through the FBI's criminal database, alerting authorities in real time if it finds a match.  The system would store license plate numbers for up to a year to provide authorities with historic data should they want to review the data later.  "There is no expectation of privacy to a license plate number," said John Carey, the police chief in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, since a license plate is a displayed public record.

Homeland Security Uses Local Police to Set Up Surveillance Buffer Zones.  In order to sweeten the pot of federalization, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is giving gifts of expensive gadgets to local police forces. [...] How is all this new technology being used?  Who is being watched?  Why are they being targeted for surveillance?  Neither law enforcement nor federal agents are talking.




Warrantless GPS tracking

GPS Tracking Devices.  Do you ever get that feeling that you're being followed?  Maybe you are.

Court Rules Probable-Cause Warrant Required for GPS Trackers.  An appellate court has finally supplied an answer to an open question left dangling by the Supreme Court in 2012:  Do law enforcement agencies need a probable-cause warrant to affix a GPS tracker to a target's vehicle?  The Third Circuit Court of Appeals gave a resounding yes to that question today [10/22/2013] in a 2 to 1 decision.  "Today's decision is a victory for all Americans because it ensures that the police cannot use powerful tracking technology without court supervision and a good reason to believe it will turn up evidence of wrongdoing," said ACLU attorney Catherine Crump in a statement.  "These protections are important because where people go reveals a great deal about them, from who their friends are, where they visit the doctor and where they choose to worship."

Obama Administration Argues No Warrant Required for GPS Tracking of Citizens.  The federal government informed an appeals court on Thursday [5/31/2012] that it has the right and the power to place GPS tracking devices on the privately owned vehicles of citizens without obtaining a warrant.  This is in open rebellion to a Supreme Court decision from January that held that such warrantless installation of tracking devices on cars was unconstitutional.

After GPS tracking banned by court, privacy fight turns to cell phone data.  The D.C. nightclub owner at the center of a landmark Supreme Court case about GPS tracking is now also challenging prosecutors' extensive use of data from cell phone towers to monitor his location.  The Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that police violated Antoine Jones' Fourth Amendment rights when they placed a GPS device on his Jeep and tracked the vehicle for a month without a valid warrant.

Groups warn high court of big government intrusion in GPS case.  The high court will decide whether warrant-less GPS tracking by law enforcement is a violation of Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable search and seizure.  The U.S. vs. Jones case is scheduled for argument in early November. ... With an expired warrant that applied only to the District of Columbia, police officers installed a GPS tracker on nightclub owner Antoine Jones's vehicle when it was parked in a public lot in Maryland.  The information they obtained from tracking Jones, whom they suspected of involvement in a cocaine-distribution operation, over the course of a month allowed them to trace Jones's movements to a house in Maryland.  Police reportedly found cocaine, crack and cash inside the residence.

High court case on GPS surveillance could break new ground.  In a potentially groundbreaking case on high-tech tracking by police, the Supreme Court will decide whether constant surveillance is such an intrusion on people's lives that police need a warrant before attaching a GPS device to a person's car.

Supreme Court Hears Whether GPS Counts as 'Big Brother'.  Citizens traveling public highways should have no expectation of privacy just because police are tracking their movements through GPS rather than in person, the U.S. government argued Tuesday [11/8/2011] in a case before the Supreme Court that pits the interest of law enforcement against individual privacy rights.  The dispute springs from a situation in which police affixed a GPS tracking device to a suspect's car without a proper warrant.  It monitored the suspect's movements for several weeks, noting where his vehicle went and how long it stayed at each location.

Supreme Court justice: Warrantless GPS tracking 'sounds like 1984'.  The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in United States v. Jones, a case that will determine whether the government has the right to use GPS devices to track the locations of criminal suspects without a warrant.  Several justices reportedly expressed concern over the government's argument, but Justice Stephen Breyer seemed particularly unnerved, bringing George Orwell into the legal debate.

Justice Breyer warns of Orwellian government.  A Supreme Court justice on Tuesday [11/8/2011] expressed major concerns that the government would engage in round-the-clock surveillance reminiscent of the totalitarian world of the George Orwell novel 1984 if the court ruled in the government's favor.  The court heard oral arguments in the Jones case, in which the outcome will determine whether warrantless GPS tracking by law enforcement is an invasion of Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

Supreme Court: Police Need Warrant for GPS Tracker.  The government argued that attaching the tiny device to a car's undercarriage was too trivial a violation of property rights to matter, and that no one who drove in public streets could expect his movements to go unmonitored.  Thus, the technique was "reasonable," meaning that police were free to employ it for any reason without first justifying it to a magistrate, the government said.  The justices seemed troubled by that position at arguments in November, where the government acknowledged it would also allow attaching such trackers to the justices' own cars without obtaining a warrant.

All Hail Samuel Alito, Privacy Champion Extraordinaire!  Yesterday [1/23/2012] the Supreme Court handed down the most important privacy case of the Roberts era, U.S. v. Jones.  The unanimous decision is an occasion for dancing in the chat rooms.  In holding that the government needs a warrant before attaching a GPS device to a suspect's car to track his movements 24/7 for a month, all the justices rejected the Obama administration's extreme and unnecessary position that we have no expectations of privacy when it comes to the virtual surveillance of our movements in public places.

Why the Supreme Court GPS Decision Won't Stop Warrantless Digital Surveillance:  On January 23 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that law enforcement authorities do not generally have a right to affix a GPS tracking device to a suspect's car without first obtaining a valid warrant.  Of the many things that can be said about the case, which has been called the most important Fourth Amendment test in a decade, perhaps the most sobering in the long run will be this:  the decision is based on technology assumptions that are rapidly becoming irrelevant.

Setback for Big Brother.  Authoritarians nationwide were disappointed to learn Monday that a unanimous Supreme Court had denied their ability to place hidden global-positioning-system (GPS) tracking devices on cars without a warrant.  The decision is long overdue in a society where government officials have quietly turned to technology to spy on the public.  A number of lower courts saw no problem with letting police record the movements of any motorist at any time for any reason.

FBI Turns Off Thousands of GPS Devices After Supreme Court Ruling.  The Supreme Court's recent ruling overturning the warrantless use of GPS tracking devices has caused a "sea change" inside the U.S. Justice Department, according to FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann.  Mr. Weissmann, speaking at a University of San Francisco conference called "Big Brother in the 21st Century" on Friday [2/24/2012], said that the court ruling prompted the FBI to turn off about 3,000 GPS tracking devices that were in use.

The Editor says...
I would have guessed there were 300, but not 3,000.




The militarization of the police

I suspect the average cop probably watches too many crime-fighter movies.  Ordinary cops are, with increasing frequency, acting like soldiers on a battlefield rather than professionals whose primary concern is law and order.  This is particularly troublesome because of the military-style weapons they now use, which is the subject of the section below this one.

Militarization and Policing — Its Relevance to 21st Century Police.  This work examines the blurring distinctions between the police and military institutions and between war and law enforcement. In this article, the author asserts that understanding this blur, and the associated organizing concepts militarization and militarism, are essential for accurately analyzing the changing nature of security, and the activity of policing, in the late-modern era of the 21st century.

Dozens of police agencies report loss of Pentagon-supplied military weapons.  The Daytona Beach Police Department was suspended after reporting a lost M-16 in January.  "We still have not been able to find it," Daytona Beach Police spokesman Jimmie Flynt told Cox.  The Napa County Sheriff's Office was banned after someone stole a rifle from an employee's personal vehicle.  "If I knew where it was, I'd go get it," Undersheriff Jean Donaldson told Cox.  "It's equipment we can obtain at no cost to our budget, so the taxpayers don't get taxed twice."

The truth about libertarians, police and Ferguson's fury:  Libertarians warned for years that government is force, that government always grows and that America's police have become too much like an occupying army.  We get accused of being paranoid, but we look less paranoid after heavily armed police in Ferguson, Missouri, tear gassed peaceful protesters, arrested journalists and stopped some journalists from entering the town. [...] If authorities arm cops like soldiers, they may begin to think like soldiers — and see the public as the enemy.  That makes violent confrontations more likely.

Missouri Governor Helped Ferguson Get Surplus Military Equipment.  Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who yesterday said he was "thunderstruck" to learn how militarized police in Ferguson had become, signed off as recently as January on statewide participation in a Pentagon program providing local police departments with surplus equipment. [...] Should Nixon, a Democrat elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012, have been surprised?  Participating jurisdictions, including agencies in St. Louis County, received weapons and equipment as early as 2010 and again in 2012, 2013 and this summer.  Ferguson is a St. Louis suburb.

Jake Tapper compares the police presence in Ferguson to a U.S. base in Afghanistan.  CNN's Jake Tapper called out police in Ferguson, Mo., on Monday night [8/18/2014], comparing the weapons and body armor employed by the police to Bagram, the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan.  The clip above shows Tapper pointing at the protesters, showing them moving away from the police.  Tapper then turns the camera on the police.

Jake Tapper In Ferguson: "This Doesn't Make Any Sense".  ["]Absolutely there have been looters, absolutely over the last nine days there's been violence, but there is nothing going on on this street right now that merits this scene out of Bagram.  Nothing.["]

Tanks? Grenade launchers? Police stocking up on military's gear giveaway.  From California to Connecticut and several states in between, local police departments have been steadily arming themselves over the years with billions of dollars' worth of military-grade equipment — including grenade launchers, helicopters and machine guns.  The materiel comes from a U.S. military program that, until this week, received little public attention.

Colorado Law Enforcement Agencies Obtain Unwanted Military Equipment.  The conflict in Ferguson, Mo., where an unarmed teen was shot by police has raised the issue whether police agencies are becoming too militarized.  And records show several Colorado law enforcement agencies have an array of equipment that the military no longer needs.  CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger looked at what local agencies have gotten and how they're using it.

Playing Soldier in the Suburbs.  In the name of local preparedness, Washington has been bestowing antiterror grants and Pentagon surplus on communities barely touched by major crime, let alone by terrorism.  Tanks and aircraft, helmets and armor, guns and grenade launchers have flowed to police departments from Des Moines (home of two $180,000 bomb-disarming robots) to Keene, N.H. (population 23,000, murder rate infinitesimal and the proud custodian of an armored BearCat).  Last week, The New Republic's Alec MacGillis ran the numbers for Missouri and found that the state's Department of Public Safety received about $69 million from the Department of Homeland Security in the past five years alone.  Which helps explain why the streets of a St. Louis suburb flooded so quickly with cops in gas masks and camouflage, driving armored cars and brandishing rifles like an occupying army.

Pentagon program put $4.3 Billion worth of equipment in the hands of American police forces.  The U.S. Defense Department has been contributing to the militarization of local police forces since at least 2007, handing over heavy armaments, battle helicopters and armored vehicles for use in urban policing scenarios.  'I think it's probably useful for us to review how the funding was done, how local law enforcement has used grant dollars,' [President] Obama told reporters at the White House [8/18/2014], 'to make sure that what they're purchasing is stuff that they actually need.'  'There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement, and we don't want those lines blurred.  That would be contrary to our tradition,' he said.

Ferguson Is Not Binary.  No conservative is saying police do not need to be able to outshoot and out arm the bad guys.  But many of us are saying police are more quickly than ever before resorting to playing soldier when they could accomplish the same as just a policeman.  One can view the events of Ferguson, MO and decide it was a good call to, before rioting even began, suit up the police as soldiers.  But the world is not binary.  Regardless of how one views the events of Ferguson, we should all be troubled by the over-militarization of routine police activity.  We should all be troubled at the growing number of well documented cases of heavy handed local and state police.

Ron Paul: Local police not 'warriors'.  Former Rep. Ron Paul on Monday [8/18/2014] called for the elimination of the Defense Department program that has transferred billions of dollars in surplus military equipment to local and state agencies.  "It should be gotten rid of," the Texas Republican said on MSNBC of the Pentagon 1033 program, which has come under increased scrutiny because of the equipment used by St. Louis County police forces in Ferguson, Missouri.  "Police are supposed to be local people, and they're supposed to be peace officers," he added.  "They're not supposed to be warriors."

America has a 'militarization moment'.  We have seen something like Ferguson, Mo., before. A police officer shoots and kills a young black man, which touches off protests and looting. Which prompts headlong rushes to judgment about the actions of everyone involved — the cops, elected officials, activists and the media. Which causes us to question our progress on race, our politics and our national character.  We saw it with the beating of Rodney King in 1992 in Los Angeles.  We saw it again with the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012 in Sanford, Fla.  What's different this time is police officers armed with equipment and weaponry normally associated with overseas military operations.  And a lot of Americans don't like what they see.

Ferguson: A Fire Alarm in the Night.  [Scroll down]  It is sadly true that in the contemporary world we do have to worry about large-scale acts of violence associated with international (and sometimes homegrown) terrorism, and so law enforcement agencies, as first responders, probably need to be better equipped than they were before 9/11.  However, it is also true that for normal police work, armored personnel carriers and the like normally do more harm than good. [...] Equipping local police forces like the 82nd Airborne is not the road to lower crime or to better relations between the forces of order and the communities they are supposed to serve.

I can support Democrat Hank Johnson 100 percent on his latest bill.  Under President Obama — who famously claimed (twice) that America needed a "civilian national security force just as powerful as the military" — law enforcement agencies around the country have become the paramilitary wings of local governments.  Nowhere has this fact become more obvious than in Ferguson, Missouri in the aftermath of the shooting of a young black man.  Now, Democrat Hank Johnson is calling for a demilitarization of law enforcement.

Must We Have a Dead White Kid?  Conservatives have long lamented the buildup of armaments and stockpiling of bullets by the Department of Homeland Security.  The media has mostly treated these conservative concerns with derision.  Suddenly, last week, when reporters were detained by the police in Ferguson, MO, the media had to pay attention to the militarization of the police and overkill by local police forces.  Given what happened in Ferguson, the community had every right to be angry.  The police bungled their handling of the matter, became very defensive, and behaved more like a paramilitary unit than a police force.  Property damage and violence by the citizenry cannot be excused, but is also the result of a community seeing those who are to protect and serve instead suiting up and playing soldier.

Opposing viewpoint:
The "militarization" of police was not only inevitable, but necessary.  Before you're too quick to demand the "demilitarization" of the police, you might want to remember who it is that stands between the neighborhood you have now and South Central L.A circa 1992.  And Ferguson has shown us that you don't need a huge metropolitan area for it to happen.

Congress goes after police.  Lawmakers are targeting police with new and old pieces of legislation in the wake of riots in a St. Louis suburb sparked by the killing by a police officer of an unarmed black teenager.  Much of the focus has been on the heavy military equipment many local police agencies have received from the Pentagon under a 1991 law meant to combat drug dealers.  Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Friday [8/15/2014] that program will not get a rubber stamp when it comes up for reauthorization later this year.

How to Eliminate Almost Every Federal Agency.  Since 2006, the Pentagon has distributed 432 mine-resistant armored vehicles to local police departments.  It has also doled out more than 400 other armored vehicles, 500 aircraft, and 93,000 assault rifles.  As The New York Times reported in June, the Defense Department has been making use of unused military equipment by giving it to local precincts.  This is despite the fact that violent crime in the U.S. has steadily plummeted since 1993.  Between 1993 and 2012, the violent-crime rate dropped by nearly 50 percent.  Yet today, local police — in cities and small towns across the country — are increasingly loaded for bear.  How did this militarization of the police force come about?  It all seems to have started with an obscure section in a defense bill passed more than 20 years ago.

How America's Police Became an Army: The 1033 Program.  America has been quietly arming its police for battle since the early 1990s.  Faced with a bloated military and what it perceived as a worsening drug crisis, the 101st Congress in 1990 enacted the National Defense Authorization Act. Section 1208 of the NDAA allowed the Secretary of Defense to "transfer to Federal and State agencies personal property of the Department of Defense, including small arms and ammunition, that the Secretary determines is — (A) suitable for use by such agencies in counter-drug activities; and (B) excess to the needs of the Department of Defense." [...] By providing law enforcement agencies with surplus military equipment free of charge, the NDAA encourages police to employ military weapons and military tactics.

The Pentagon Equipped Ferguson's Police Dept..  This week, the Midwestern town of Ferguson, Mo., was transformed into a war zone — occupied by heavily armed police officers wearing Kevlar helmets, driving armored trucks and spraying tear gas at protestors and journalists. [...] Images emerging from the St. Louis suburb have alarmed the rest of the country.  Most people don't expect to see Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs) intended for the deserts of Afghanistan driving down the same roads normally occupied by school busses and minivans.  "We rolled lighter than that in Afghanistan," Paul Szoldra, a Marine veteran-turned-journalist noted in Business Insider.

Military surplus
Mapping the Spread of the Military's Surplus Gear.  State and local police departments obtain some of their military-style equipment through a free Defense Department program created in the early 1990s.  While the portion of their gear coming from the program is relatively small (most of it is paid for through department budgets and federal grants), detailed data from the Pentagon illustrates how ubiquitous such equipment has become.

The Editor says...
The map shows Pecos County, Texas, (population 15,619) received 24 assault rifles, one MRAP, and 20 pieces of body armor.


Cheyenne police get armored vehicle.  As America's overseas wars have wound down, much of the military equipment used there has come home.  But rather than sit unused, it is going to law enforcement agencies across the country, including right here in Laramie County.  While the scope of police work in Wyoming is different from that of Iraq or Afghanistan, law agencies say they have found value in surplus military equipment like weapons, armor and vehicles.  Even small departments have benefitted.

Has the Dept. of Homeland Security become America's standing army?  The DHS routinely hands out six-figure grants to enable local municipalities to purchase military-style vehicles, as well as a veritable war chest of weaponry, ranging from tactical vests, bomb-disarming robots, assault weapons and combat uniforms.  This rise in military equipment purchases funded by the DHS has, according to analysts Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz, "paralleled an apparent increase in local SWAT teams."  The end result?  An explosive growth in the use of SWAT teams for otherwise routine police matters, an increased tendency on the part of police to shoot first and ask questions later, and an overall mindset within police forces that they are at war — and the citizenry are the enemy combatants.

War Gear Flows to Police Departments.  During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.  The equipment has been added to the armories of police departments that already look and act like military units.  Police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs.  Masked, heavily armed police officers in Louisiana raided a nightclub in 2006 as part of a liquor inspection.  In Florida in 2010, officers in SWAT gear and with guns drawn carried out raids on barbershops that mostly led only to charges of "barbering without a license."

Cops, MRAPs and the Heartbreak of Police Operator Syndrome.  I shake my head every time I see a cop dressed in modern Army camouflage; we soldiers hate that camouflage because it doesn't work anywhere, so why are cops wearing it? [...] I imagine many street cops aren't too excited about MRAPs either.  They're bulky, slow, impractical and not likely to ever be needed.  And based on what we see online and on TV, way too many cops seem to fall under a magical spell and think they have to dress and act like operators when their police department gets an MRAP.

The absurdly dangerous militarization of America's police.  [Scroll down]  What we have here is the absurdly dangerous militarization of America's police departments. Our sprawling Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon (which gave the MRAP to Bastrop [Texas]) are haphazardly spreading war equipment, war techniques and a war mentality to what are supposed to be our communities' peacekeepers and crime solvers.  Having the technology and mindset for military actions, local authorities will find excuses to substitute them for honest police work, turning common citizens into "enemies."

Towns Say 'No Tanks' to Militarized Police.  Residents in some towns have begun standing up to the large armored vehicles that local police departments are receiving from the federal government.  Six-figure grants from the Department of Homeland Security have been funding BearCats and other heavily fortified vehicles in towns and cities nationwide since soon after the 2001 terrorist attacks.  Beginning last summer, the government also has handed out 200 surplus vehicles built to withstand mines and bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is considering requests from 750 more communities.

How Every Part of American Life Became a Police Matter.  If all you've got is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail.  And if police and prosecutors are your only tool, sooner or later everything and everyone will be treated as criminal.  This is increasingly the American way of life, a path that involves "solving" social problems (and even some non-problems) by throwing cops at them, with generally disastrous results.  Wall-to-wall criminal law encroaches ever more on everyday life as police power is applied in ways that would have been unthinkable just a generation ago.  By now, the militarization of the police has advanced to the point where "the War on Crime" and "the War on Drugs" are no longer metaphors but bland understatements.

Small town America shouldn't resemble war zone.  Something potentially sinister is happening across America, and we should stop and take notice before it changes the character of our country forever.  County, city and small-town police departments across the country are now acquiring free military-grade weapons that could possibly be used against the very citizens and taxpayers that not only fund their departments but who the police are charged with protecting. [...] This trend is not only sweeping America's small cities, it's hitting American college campuses as well.  Ohio State University recently acquired an MRAP.  Apparently, college kids are getting too rowdy.  These are just some of the most egregious examples.  There are countless stories of police departments getting (and often later selling) assault weapons, drones, and other military-grade equipment that is absolutely ill-suited for America's main streets.  The Pentagon's 1033 program, which "provides or transfers surplus Department of Defense military equipment to state and local civilian law enforcement agencies without charge," is a big part of this disturbing trend.

Scenes from a militarized America: Iowa family 'terrorized'.  When critics (like me) warn about the dangers of police militarization, this is what we're talking about.  You'll see the raid team, dressed in battle-dress uniforms, helmets and face-covering balaclava hoods take down the family's door with a battering ram.  You'll see them storm the home with ballistics shields, guns at the ready.  More troubling still, you'll see not one but two officers attempt to prevent the family from having an independent record of the raid, one by destroying a surveillance camera, another by blocking another camera's lens.  [Video clip] From the images in the video, you'd think they were looking for an escaped murderer or a house full of hit men.  No, none of that.  They were looking for a few people suspected of credit card fraud.

Troubling new details about the violent police raid in Iowa.  The raid was apparently for suspected credit card fraud.  Ankeny Police Department officials are now speaking out.  But I'm not sure they're helping their cause. [...] So they see nothing wrong with how the raid was handled, and the department has no stated policy for executing warrants.  All of that is troubling enough.  (The lack of a written policy also suggests a lack of training.)  As is the "officer safety" justification, as if that in itself trumps the rights of the people inside the house.

Indiana town's police force gets armored carrier from military.  An armored carrier the West Lafayette police department recently acquired from the U.S. military is being refitted and will soon serve as a "moving shield" for officers, the city's police chief said.

DoD Program 1033 Militarizing Local Police Departments.  Those who are paying attention are seeing the constant notices of military equipment from overseas war-zones being dispersed to domestic police departments.  These giveaways are usually in the form of armored vehicles (as far as the public knows).  This is all made possible by the Defense Department's Program 1033.  In place since 1997, the program allows the DOD to give away the equipment — often free of charge — to local police departments who apply for the equipment grants.  This year has been the year of the MRAP, or Mine Resistant Armor Protected vehicle.  For the first time these fighting vehicles, costing an upwards of $600,000 each, are being sent out to American cops, and in rapid fashion.

Boston police state
The Price I Paid for Fighting for a Library Free of Porn and Sex Offenders.  [Scroll down]  I've noticed more stories about the militarization of local police and harassment of citizens happening at an alarming rate across this country.  Salinas, California just got an armored police vehicle which is disturbing its residents.  They don't understand why their police need such a thing in such a little town.  Places like Boulder, Colorado and Preston, Idaho also received these vehicles, disturbing their inhabitants too.  Stories of police acting above the law, searching without warrants and abusing their power are on the rise also.  There are videos all over YouTube of concealed weapons permit holders being forced to the ground and threatened with a bullet to the head over a legally carried weapon by officers too caught up in their own power to abide by the law.  It's a frightening time to be a private citizen.

Militarized police.  With almost 13,000 agencies in all 50 states and four U.S. territories participating in a military "recycling" program, community police forces across the country continue to be transformed into outposts of the military, with police agencies acquiring military-grade hardware-tanks, weaponry, and other equipment designed for the battlefield-in droves.  Keep in mind that once acquired, this military equipment, which is beyond the budget and scope of most communities, finds itself put to all manner of uses by local law enforcement agencies under the rationale that "if we have it, we might as well use it" — the same rationale, by the way, used with deadly results to justify assigning SWAT teams to carry out routine law enforcement work such as delivering a warrant.

Leftover armored trucks from Iraq coming to local police agencies.  The Albany County sheriff's office is among eight law-enforcement agencies in New York that have received the free mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, made for $500,000 apiece.  Civil liberties advocates, meanwhile, see it as the increasing militarization of police forces.

Salinas CA armored vehicle
Let's start with a little Police State this morning... .

Defense Department gives local police equipment designed for a war zone.  The Defense Department recently announced it would be giving domestic law enforcement forces hulking vehicles designed to efficiently maneuver in a war zone for use in thwarting any potential high-scale activity.

Will domestic law enforcement paranoia turn US into a police state?  In an article for The Guardian earlier this month that raised questions about the 1033 program — an initiative that allows the Defense Department to donate surplus military equipment to local police forces — Michael Shank pointed to the mounting evidence that suggests the police force in America is looking more and more like the military.  "The growing militarization of the United States appears to be occurring at home as well as abroad, a phenomenon which is troublesome and sure to continue without decisive action," he wrote, warning of, "the blurring line between military forces and the local police who are meant to protect and serve."  Someone is training law enforcement officials in this heavy-handed behavior.  The question is, why?

Beware Of The Police's Increasing Militarization.  In early August, a SWAT team broke through the gates of a 3.5-acre farm in Arlington, Texas, that promotes a sustainable lifestyle and did a 10-hour search of the property.  Residents were handcuffed and held at gunpoint as police looked for nonexistent marijuana plants and various city code violations.  As the owners watched, 10 tons of their private property was hauled off in trucks — dangerous items such as blackberry bushes, okra, tomatillo plants, native grasses and sunflowers that provided food and bedding for animals, everything from furniture to compost.

Whatcha Gonna Do If They Come for You.  [Scroll down]  For [Radley] Balko, the crackdown on illicit drugs is the driving force behind police militarization.  Battlefield rhetoric — we speak of the drug "war," for instance — encouraged an "us vs. them" attitude that superseded the old "protect and serve."  Hundreds of police forces began to insist that they needed SWAT teams to combat dangerous drug traders.  In dress and in tactics, SWAT forces are far closer to military than police.  The book's cover features a phalanx of state troopers wearing Kevlar vests and face shields, gear more reminiscent of the battle suits from the Halo video game series than of a local sheriff.  As military-style police became the norm, the need to treat suspects like enemy combatants changed the legal landscape.

Will domestic law enforcement paranoia turn US into a police state?  Judging by the way the Department of Homeland Security is spending your money, domestic unrest may be coming soon to a city near you.  The DHS has been making purchases lately that seem to signal a federal fear of riots across the nation in the coming months.  The obvious question is, what do they know that they American people don't?  A more enduring and chilling question is what will be the end result of America's increasingly militarized police force?

Dallas County Now Has Its Very Own Bulletproof, "Mine-Protected" Military SUV.  The initial plan was to shove the vehicles, called MRAPS (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) into a warehouse and let them collect dust.  That changed when someone decided that, having served so admirably overseas, it would be only just to bring the MRAPs stateside and deploy them in the domestic war on crime.  And so, for the past couple of months, news reports have been popping up announcing that places like Murfreesboro, Tennessee and Ohio State University have been receiving their very own military-grade armored SUVs.

The cops at Ohio State have an armored fighting vehicle now.  The Ohio State University Department of Public Safety has acquired an armored military vehicle that looks like it belongs in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Gary Lewis, a senior director of media relations at OSU, told The Daily Caller via email that the "unique, special-purpose vehicle is a replacement" for the "police fleet."  He called the armored jalopy "an all-hazard, all-purpose, public safety-response vehicle" with "obviously enhanced capabilities."  Lewis did not specify exactly what previous mode of transport was replaced.

Is America Inching Toward a Police State?  In his book, [John W.] Whitehead warns of the gradual transformation of America into a police state in which stronger law enforcement and a robust surveillance apparatus might give rise to a state governed by the strong arm of the law.  He contends that the lines between foreign and domestic surveillance and between law enforcement and military agencies are dissipating.  This has resulted in an increasing number of military-style SWAT raids and the rapid growth of the government surveillance programs led by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Beware Warrior Cops.  We need police to catch murderers, thieves and con men, and so we give them special power — the power to use force on others.  Sadly, today's police use that power to invade people's homes over accusations of trivial, nonviolent offenses — and often do it with tanks, battering rams and armor you'd expect on battlefields.

Lewiston police unveil armored vehicle at Night Out.  People flocked to Marcotte Park on Tuesday for National Night Out as the Police Department showed of its newest additions:  a robot and an armored personnel carrier.

When your own police label you a terrorist.  Concord Police Chief John Duval recently begged Washington, D.C., for more than $250,000 to buy a military-style "armored personnel carrier" — the Lenco BearCat G3.  Chief Duval claims he needs this military personnel carrier because of groups like the "Free Staters."  He stated in his application that their threats were "real and here" and are providing Concord police "daily challenges."  A "Free Stater" is a person loosely participating in peaceful, social and economic migration:  to move 20,000 Americans who believe in smaller, responsible government to New Hampshire.  I did that.  I came to New Hampshire for that very reason.  So, yes, I guess I am a "Free Stater."  I am also a Republican, a lawyer and a computer nerd.  Concord police want a military-style vehicle because of people like me?

Their Constitutional Rights Violated By Authorities.  A Nevada family files a lawsuit after police literally seize their house to use as a command post after entering without a warrant and assaulting family members.  Isn't this what helped start the American Revolution?

A Real Live Third Amendment Case.  The most obvious obstacle to winning a Third Amendment claim here is that police arguably do not qualify as "soldiers."  On the other hand, as Radley Balko describes in his excellent new book The Rise of the Warrior Cop, many police departments are increasingly using military-style tactics and equipment, often including the aggressive use of force against innocent people who get in the way of their plans.  If the plaintiffs' complaint is accurate, this appears to be an example of that trend.  In jurisdictions where the police have become increasingly militarized, perhaps the courts should treat them as "soldiers" for Third Amendment purposes.

And Now They Trample The Third Amendment.  Henderson police arrested a family for refusing to let officers use their homes as lookouts for a domestic violence investigation of their neighbors, the family claims in court. [...] The Mitchell family's claim includes Third Amendment violations, a rare claim in the United States.  The Third Amendment prohibits quartering soldiers in citizens' homes in times of peace without the consent of the owner.

State Capitol troopers begin carrying assault rifles.  Regulars around the state Capitol will soon be seeing something different:  Troopers carrying military-style assault rifles. [...] Officers once armed only with handguns will be walking around the Capitol with M-6 carbines, a variant of the AR-15.  We don't have to explain the irony.  Not all officers will be so armed — just enough to make a public statement.

Cops with Machine Guns: The Killing of Michael Nida.  In October 2011, the police-related shooting death of unarmed man, Michael Nida, 31, raised serious questions about the state of policing in the city of Downey, California, a suburb of Los Angeles.  Why did it raise questions?  The father of four who worked in construction wasn't shot with a handgun by one of the Downey Police Department's officers.  He was shot with an MP5 submachine gun, the same gun used by the Navy Seals.

Battlefield Main Street.  A rapidly expanding Pentagon program that distributes used military equipment to local police departments — many of them small-town forces — puts battlefield-grade weaponry in the hands of cops at an unprecedented rate.  Through its little-known "1033 program," the Department of Defense gave away nearly $500 million worth of leftover military gear to law enforcement in fiscal year 2011 — a new record for the program and a dramatic rise over past years' totals, including the $212 million in equipment distributed in 2010.

The Militarization of Policing in America.  American neighborhoods are increasingly being policed by cops armed with the weapons and tactics of war.  Federal funding in the billions of dollars has allowed state and local police departments to gain access to weapons and tactics created for overseas combat theaters — and yet very little is known about exactly how many police departments have military weapons and training, how militarized the police have become, and how extensively federal money is incentivizing this trend.

Tanks on Main Street: The Militarization of Local Police.  Take a close look at your local police officers, the ones who patrol your neighborhoods and ensure the safety of your roadways.  Chances are they look less and less like the benevolent keepers of the peace who patrolled Andy Griffith's Mayberry and more like inflexible extensions of the military. ... Moreover, as an investigative report by Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz reveals, in communities large and small across America, local law enforcement are arming themselves to the teeth with weapons previously only seen on the battlefield.  "Many police, including beat cops, now routinely carry assault rifles.

The Creeping Militarization of the Home Front:  Deploying troops on the home front is very different from waging war abroad.  Soldiers are trained to kill, whereas civilian peace officers are trained to respect constitutional rights and to use force only as a last resort.  That fundamental distinction explains why Americans have long resisted the use of standing armies to keep the domestic peace.  Unfortunately, plans are afoot to change that time-honored policy.

Super Bowl 2012 Security Patrols Use Robots, Toxin Monitors, F-16s.  Weeks before this year's Super Bowl championship contenders were set, massive security teams were hard at work to secure the city of Indianapolis, deploying some of the most advanced defense technologies ever used at the big game.  The U.S. military, police and federal agencies, including NORAD and Customs and Border Protection, all have officers on the ground, who specialize in multiple types of emergency situations.

World Trade Center to be kept safe using military-grade technology.  The New York Post reported the high-tech system of thousands of "intelligent" cameras and computer processors can recognise people's faces and retinas and then compare that information with databases such as terrorist watch lists, sources said.

Pentagon halts free guns for police.  The Defense Department recently fired off a round of letters warning state law enforcement officials to track down every gun, helicopter and Humvee that the military had given them under a $2.6 billion surplus program, or have their access to the handouts cut off.



"When the government fears the people, that is liberty.
When the people fear the government, that is tyranny."

— Thomas Jefferson        




Ordinary cops have too much fire power

The local police, with the help of the feds, have become militarized, using weapons and tactics that were once reserved for foreign battlefields.

Pinellas schools add M16 rifles to police cache.  The Pinellas County School District has purchased 28 M16 rifles for its internal police department, according to Law Enforcement Support Office documents.  The guns aren't currently in use, but school police officers will begin training to use and store the weapons, school district spokeswoman Melanie Marquez Parra said.

Bring it back with a full tank of gas, and I don't want to see any scratches on it.
San Diego school district to return armored military vehicle.  The San Diego school district will return its armored military vehicle to the Department of Defense, school officials announced Thursday night [9/18/2014].  The district joins a list of agencies returning excess military equipment amid a national controversy over local law enforcement agencies using such equipment.

The Kampus Kops get grenade launchers.  What could go wrong?
Pentagon gives guns, grenade-launchers, armoured vehicles to US schools.  The US Defence Department program accused of fuelling the militarisation of local law enforcement is stirring controversy again, this time for providing equipment and weapons to school police.  Law enforcement agencies affiliated with at least 120 schools, colleges and universities have received gear through the program, according to a Washington Post review of data from 33 states.  The items received include at least five grenade launchers, hundreds of rifles and eight mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles, the hulking machines designed to withstand the kind of roadside attacks seen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

13 Ways The American Police State Squanders Your Tax Dollars.  [#1]  $4.2 billion for militarized police.  Almost 13,000 agencies in all 50 states and four U.S. territories participate in a military "recycling" program that allows the Defense Department to transfer surplus military hardware to local and state police.  In 2012 alone, $546 million worth of military equipment was distributed to law enforcement agencies throughout the country.  [#2]  $34 billion for police departments to add to their arsenals of weapons and equipment.  Since President Obama took office, police departments across the country "have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft."

Surplus US military gear, including MRAPs, going to local police.  But the program also has its critics, who say arming police with military-grade equipment blurs the lines between cops and soldiers and encourages unnecessary confrontations and injuries.  "The military is trained to search and destroy — to go find the enemy and subdue them," said Tim Lynch, director of the Project on Criminal Justice with the Cato Institute, a libertarian think thank [sic].  "What we want from our civilian police departments is to use the absolute minimum amount of force that may be necessary in some cases to bring a suspect into a court of law, where disputes can be resolved peacefully."

Incoming Boston mayor, police clash over AR-15 proposal.  Boston police are clashing with the city's incoming mayor over a proposal to arm some officers with AR-15 rifles.  Mayor-elect Martin Walsh came out against the plan over the weekend.  The Boston Police Department had been pushing for a limited number of officers to carry the high-powered rifles, in light of recent mass shootings as well as the Boston Marathon bombing earlier this year.

The Editor says...
Bigger guns do not equate to faster response and smarter cops.

Cops can use radio waves to bring your car to a halt.  Finding a safe way to stop fleeing cars has been a difficult problem for law enforcement for a long time.  Police have tried everything from spike strips to PIT maneuvers to bring fleeing villains to a halt.  Now, however, a British company has a slightly more high tech idea:  radio waves.  The company, known as E2V is working on a system called RF-Safe Stop that projects radio pulses which overwhelm and shutdown engine electronics.

The Editor says...
I would not want to be in the vicinity when that weapon was used.  Will the police pay for knocked-out engines on nearby cars?  Probably not.  If the radio signal is powerful enough to kill an automobile engine, wouldn't it also kill all the electronics in the area, and wouldn't it be a severe health hazard?  At the very least, this would almost certainly violate the FCC's RF exposure standards for "uncontrolled exposure areas."  If the weapon kills the electronics in your engine, wouldn't it also kill your pacemaker?  This idea comes from the same nanny state that requires warning signs where there's a microwave oven in use in a public place!

Online Ammunition Salesman Says One Police Department Is Ordering Lots Of Ammo.  Seems like more than just the Social Security and DHS etc are gearing up for what is coming.  Reading about these .gov agencies buying all the ammo that they have been buying is eye opening, but to be on the phone talking to someone trying to procure this much ammo for a police department, is chilling!

New York's Long-Distance Body Scanners Challenge 4th Amendment.  The NYPD, sometimes referred to as the world's "seventh largest army" with 35,000 uniformed officers, already does a brisk business frisking potential suspects, with little pushback.  In the first quarter of last year, 161,000 New Yorkers were stopped and interrogated, with more than nine out of 10 of them found to be innocent.  And there are cameras already in place everywhere:  in Manhattan alone there are more than 2,000 surveillance cameras watching for alleged miscreants.

New Anti-Crime Cameras Being Installed Downtown.  Officials said 38 anti-crime cameras will soon be installed in downtown Los Angeles.  In the coming weeks, this new equipment will replace cameras which have been broken or failing for years.

Police in Iowa city to buy their own semi-automatic AR-15s.  Police in one Iowa city could soon be buying their own assault rifles to carry in squad cars to ensure they aren't outgunned by criminals in the wake of several high-profile shootings involving semi-automatic AR-15s, FoxNews.com has learned.  Half of the 50-member force in Marion, Iowa, will take part in the upgrade, paying for the $2,000 guns in installments deducted from their paychecks, according to Police Chief Harry Daugherty.

San Francisco to Test Big Brother Cameras.  The United States continues its slow morphing into Big Brotherdom, this time through the use of cameras that predict crimes before they take place based on "suspicious" behavior.  The cameras will then summon law enforcement to help pre-empt the crime from taking place.  The Daily Mail (Britain) reports, "Using a range of in-built parameters of what is 'normal' the cameras then send a text message to a human guard to issue an alert-or call them."  They can track up to 150 people at a time and will build up a "memory" of suspicious behavior to begin determining what is inappropriate.

Just like the Telescreens in 1984:
Talking Surveillance Cameras Coming to U.S. Streets.  Talking surveillance cameras that bark orders at passers-by and can also record conversations are heading for U.S. streets, with manufacturer Illuminating Concepts announcing the progress of its 'Intellistreets' system.

ACLU launches nationwide look into police 'militarization'.  ACLU cites ten cases where the use of excess force and weaponry demonstrate the need for investigation.  In one case, police blinded themselves with a flash bang grenade and then mistakenly shot a sleeping nine-year-old.  Police in Paragould Arkansas had to pull back from a plan to patrol streets in full SWAT gear after public pressure mounted.  The Paragould Police Chief had said he expected most people stopped would be innocent of any crime, but claimed it was the civilian's responsibility to "prove" innocence.

DHS deploying in Homeland with 'weapons of war'.  Compounded by the administration's now "on the radar" push to further restrict civilian firearm ownership, the recent controversy over the potential use of drones over American soil to kill citizens without due process, and a longstanding and documented train of abuses tied to the militarization of law enforcement activities, those who keep an eye on such things are noticeably distressed.

NYPD's Kelly says cops could take down an aircraft.  The NYPD now has anti-aircraft capability.  New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly tells "60 Minutes" that the NYPD has "some means to take down a plane" in what he termed an "extreme situation," during an interview tonight on CBS, according to a transcript of the exchange.

Bossier sheriff launches 'Operation Exodus'.  The Bossier Parish sheriff's office is launching a program called "Operation Exodus," a policing plan for an end-of-the-world scenario involving a mostly white group of ex-police volunteers and a .50-caliber machine gun, inspired in part from the Book of Exodus in the Bible.

Big Brother Not Only Watches Us, It Toys with Our Children.  Lego, for example, in 2003 began marketing a plastic construction set depicting a police 18-wheeler housing a surveillance unit, complete with monitoring devices and control panels to track movements of little Lego citizens. … While the Lego surveillance play set is — according to the company — oriented toward 8-year-olds, a rival company, Playmobil, which produces plastic figures for younger darlings, apparently has determined there is a market for toys teaching 4-year-olds the benefit of submitting oneself to intrusive police searches.

Court OKs searches of cell phones without warrant.  The California Supreme Court allowed police Monday [1/3/2011] to search arrestees' cell phones without a warrant, saying defendants lose their privacy rights for any items they're carrying when taken into custody.  Under U.S. Supreme Court precedents, "this loss of privacy allows police not only to seize anything of importance they find on the arrestee's body ... but also to open and examine what they find," the state court said in a 5-2 ruling.

Where have you gone, Sheriff Taylor?  [Scroll down]  Not long ago I reported on an even more absurd case, in Shreveport, Louisiana.  There, the police chief cooked up this hare-brained idea of holding gas station employees and owners criminally liable in cases where drivers drive away without paying.  I can almost hear your incredulity. ... Well, you see, the chief got the town council to require station attendants to make their customers pre-pay.  If they don't, and the driver drives off without paying, then the attendant is also a criminal!  This sort of regulation of everyday life is all too common.  The basic idea is to scribble out a criminal code to make it easy for law enforcement.

The Rise of the American Police State.  The increasingly antiterrorism-oriented police units have begun to regard dissenting citizens, or even innocent and unsuspecting citizens, as the "enemy" in domestic "war zones." ... The militarization of the police does not occur instantaneously, but is the cumulative result of each military tool amassed, each protester silenced based on his political views, or each wrongful search that goes unchallenged.

SWAT tank: Associated Press Photograph
Child abuse! Call the SWAT team!  Apparently they take their polygamy very seriously in Texas.  Our troops in Iraq might be able to use a piece of equipment like the one at [left], pictured during the raid on the FLDS compound in Texas.

S.W.A.T. Team Use In U.S. Law Enforcement Dramatically Increases.  The SWAT teams wear camouflage, body armor and gas masks, and use weapons such as diversionary "flashbangs" (a diversionary device), submachine guns, explosives and chemical weapons.  Kraska's survey shows that the SWAT teams receive training by active and retired military experts in special operations.  Heckler and Koch, makers of the MP5 submachine gun used by the Navy Seals, also provide training to the SWAT teams.  Some units also have helicopters and armored personnel carriers at their disposal.

Our Growing Police State.  The Giffords/Roll shooting was brought to an end by a bystander.  The Ft. Hood massacre on November 5, 2009, which killed 13 American soldiers and wounded 29 others was brought to an end by two base police officers using conventional sidearms and procedures.  The warning signs for this terrorist attack, the first on American soil since 9/11, were ignored and yet it was the local cops on the beat who faced and dealt with a terrible crime.  Every case one can think of was resolved by conventional methods.  And yet the police powers of government on a local and national level have been growing at an alarming rate.  And despite a dissonant data base there is a growing trend towards militarization of police forces and of an invasive state security apparatus.

Obama and his Syndicate.  [Scroll down]  Now the extremely bad news for US citizens.  First, on 19 January 2012, multiple videos were made of a shipment — via rail — of hundreds of Bradley armored vehicles and related equipment moving from Northern California Southward. ... The US military, Department of Homeland Security and LOCAL Police are conducting "urban warfare exercises" in recent and unprecedented "showings of force" under the now undeniable (by any intelligent beings) Dictator-in-Chief Barack Hussein Obama.  These military forces are inhabiting the streets and air of and over Los Angeles, Boston, Little Rock, Miami and Colorado amongst others.

Homeland Security seeking assault and sniper rifles.  The Department of Homeland Security issued a bid for 36 Colt LE901 rifle systems, which will accept and function any military specification (Mil-Spec) .223 caliber upper receiver, and is thus backwards compatible with all CBP/U.S. Border Patrol M4 upper receivers.  Not surprisingly in this matter is the recent award by DHS, but no solicitation can be found for, .223 caliber Remington Enhanced Performance ammunition.

Who Does The Government Intend To Shoot?  The Social Security Administration (SSA) confirms that it is purchasing 174 thousand rounds of hollow point bullets to be delivered to 41 locations in major cities across the U.S.  No one has yet said what the purpose of these purchases is, though we are led to believe that they will be used only in an emergency to counteract and control civil unrest.  Those against whom the hollow point bullets are to be used — those causing the civil unrest — must be American citizens; since the SSA has never been used overseas to help foreign countries maintain control of their citizens. [...] If this were only a one time order of ammunition, it could easily be dismissed.  But there is a pattern here.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has ordered 46,000 rounds of hollow point ammunition.

It's illegal for passengers to ride in a trailer -- unless you're a cop.
Passaic County sheriff's department enlists 16-foot trailer for mass arrests response.  No longer will Passaic County law enforcement have to take separate cars to respond to a scene where mass arrests are expected.  Now the sheriff's department has a 16-foot dual axle trailer to transport up to 20 officers to parades, demonstrations, shopping frenzies or college parties that might get too rowdy.  The $130,000 trailer came from the state's Department of Corrections through a federal Homeland Security grant, putting Passaic County on New Jersey's Mass Arrest Response Team.

Why do America's police need an armored tank?  If the new American paramilitary is being created not to repel a massive invasion of Al Qaeda based terrorists unleashed on our homeland, then why are we militarizing our society to a point that surpasses the wildest dreams of former Iron Curtain leaders of the 1970's?  Perhaps it is not to keep the masses protected but incarcerated; to hold their wealth and prevent it from leaving the country, to control their spending with strict illegal monitoring and currency manipulation, to tax without representation, and to modify behavior just like prison inmates are manipulated using controls beyond the scope of most inmates mental capacity.

Somewhat related...
DNA Gun Tags Rioters for Future Arrest.  [A] new high velocity DNA tagging system, designed by UK firm Selectamark, fires small soft green DNA pellets which could remain on the target's skin for weeks.  Andrew Knights from Selectamark said:  'On contact with the target the uniquely-coded SelectaDNA solution leaves a synthetic DNA trace mark that will enable the relevant authorities to confirm or eliminate that person from their involvement in a particular situation and could ultimately lead to arrest and prosecution.'





The use of drones against civilians:

Introduction:
Unmanned aerial vehicles, colloquially referred to as drones, are now being used as a high-tech law enforcement surveillance tool.  (When did we vote on this?)  The UAVs are used to obtain aerial video from an altitude of 400 feet or less.  They might not make enough noise to alert you to their presence, and in the event of a SWAT situation, the SWAT team can make plenty of noise to be sure you don't hear any aircraft.  The UAVs I've seen do not appear to be powerful enough to lift a good camera lens, to say nothing of an image stabilizer, so the resulting video is probably not that great.  (If the video is completely useless, that fact will never be made public.)  So far there has been nothing said about the penalties for shooting down a drone, or confusing it enough to make it crash, but after that happens you can be sure there will be legislation written, debated, passed and signed into law in a matter of 24 hours -- much like the way the 300-page Patriot Act materialized in six weeks and was signed into law without being read by anyone in Congress.  (What's the rush?)  The penalty for shooting at a UAV will probably be the same as the penalty for shooting at a police car, and the first person to do so will be prominently featured on the evening "news" (which is usually nothing more than an infomercial for big government -- but that's another story).

Police employ Predator drone spy planes on home front.  Local police say they have used two unarmed Predators based at Grand Forks Air Force Base to fly at least two dozen surveillance flights since June.  The FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration have used Predators for other domestic investigations, officials said. ... The drones belong to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which operates eight Predators on the country's northern and southwestern borders to search for illegal immigrants and smugglers.  The previously unreported use of its drones to assist local, state and federal law enforcement has occurred without any public acknowledgment or debate.

Is there a drone in your neighbourhood?  There are at least 63 active drone sites around the U.S, federal authorities have been forced to reveal following a landmark Freedom of Information lawsuit.  The unmanned planes — some of which may have been designed to kill terror suspects — are being launched from locations in 20 states.

Surveillance Drones Don't Live Up To Expectations.  Predator Drones have proven not to be worth the cost in their ability to curb contraband, drug traffic, and illegal alien activity.  Nearly two years after Predator B drones were deployed along the Texas/Mexico international border, the unmanned surveillance aircraft have proven to be, well, not worth it.  The drones were intended to augment the presence of border agents and physical barriers such as some 700 miles of intermittent border fencing along the Rio Grande River.  The Hill reported on June 10, 2010 that setting up a single drone in Corpus Christi, Texas (on the Gulf Coast), would have an estimated cost of between $20 and $80 million to focus on the Texas border alone.

Krauthammer On Drones Flying In US: "Stop It Here, Stop It Now".  "I'm going to go hard left on you here, I'm going ACLU," syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said in opposition to the use of drones on the U.S. homeland.  "I don't want regulations, I don't want restrictions, I want a ban on this.  Drones are instruments of war.  The Founders had a great aversion to any instruments of war, the use of the military inside even the United States.  It didn't like standing armies, it has all kinds of statutes of using the army in the country."  "A drone is a high-tech version of an old army and a musket.  It ought to be used in Somalia to hunt bad guys but not in America.  I don't want to see it hovering over anybody's home. [...]"

A Predator Drone in the USA Could be Spying On You.  Americans are familiar with unmanned spy drones providing surveillance of Iranian nuclear complexes and Taliban armed militants combating American troops along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Now the Obama administration has quietly authorized Predator Drone use by law enforcement officials in the United States to spy on American Citizens.

Government Withholds Information on Drone Flight Authorizations.  State and local law enforcement are increasingly using unmanned aircraft for investigations into things like cattle rustling, drug dealing, and the search for missing persons.  Any drone flying over 400 feet needs a certification or authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration, part of the DOT.  But there is currently no information available to the public about who specifically has obtained these authorizations or for what purposes.

Privacy concerns as US government rolls out domestic drone rules.  Unmanned drones could soon be buzzing in the skies above many U.S. cities, as the federal government green-lights the technology for local law enforcement amid widespread privacy concerns.  The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday [5/14/2012] began to explain the rules of the sky for these newly licensed drones at potentially dozens of sites across the country.

Is There a Drone In Your Backyard?  Earlier this week, the federal government announced that the Air Force might be dispatching drones to a backyard near you.  The stated purpose of these spies in the sky is to assist local police to find missing persons or kidnap victims, or to chase bad guys.  If the drone operator sees you doing anything of interest (Is your fertilizer for the roses or to fuel a bomb?  Is that Sudafed for your cold or your meth habit?  Are you smoking in front of your kids?), the feds say they may take a picture of you and keep it.  The feds predict that they will dispatch or authorize about 30,000 of these unmanned aerial vehicles across America in the next 10 years.  Meanwhile, more than 300 local and state police departments are awaiting federal permission to use the drones they already have purchased — usually with federal stimulus funds.  The government is out of control.

Despite Change to Drone Policy, Drones Still Controversial.  The use of drones by the United States is so controversial that even mainstream media outlets cannot ignore it.  Earlier this week, CBS News asked who would be targeted by U.S. drones, and who would decide whom the drones target.  According to that report, the decision would be "concentrated" in the hands of a very small group of people at the White House.

America: The Home of the... Compliant?  If you want a quick measure of the state of American society, you might consider the federal government's use of unmanned aerial drones to monitor U.S. citizens, and in particular the EPA's matter-of-fact defense of its use of drones over the Midwest as necessary to "verify compliance" with environmental laws.  And as the EPA's "environmental justice" agenda is quickly becoming the government's official overarching priority, we might describe the Obama era as the dawning of the Age of Compliance.

U.S. government to use 'drones the size of Golf Balls to spy on American citizens'.  A 30-page memorandum issued by President Barack Obama's Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley on April 23 has stated that the drones, some as small as golf balls, may be used domestically to 'collect information about U.S. persons.'  The photos that the drones will take may be retained, used or even distributed to other branches of the government so long as the 'recipient is reasonably perceived to have a specific, lawful governmental function' in asking for them.

Sen. Paul proposes bill protecting Americans from drone surveillance.  Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Tuesday [6/12/2012] introduced the Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act, which would require the government to get a warrant before using aerial drones to surveil U.S. citizens.  More broadly, Paul's bill is aimed at preventing "unwarranted governmental intrusion" through the use of drones, according to the lawmaker.

Rand Paul Tries To Shoot Down Drone Surveillance.  Does the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures include aerial surveillance of your house and property?  Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., thinks so.

Talk of drones patrolling US skies spawns anxiety.  The prospect that thousands of drones could be patrolling U.S. skies by the end of this decade is raising the specter of a Big Brother government that peers into backyards and bedrooms.

Dumb and Dumber Drones.  On Valentine's Day (politicians know that holidays and weekends are ideal times to pull the wool over our eyes), Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act.  This law allocates $63.6 billion to the Federal Aviation Administration between 2012 and 2015.  Basically, it authorizes the FAA to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to loosen and expand drone regulations for both military and private/commercial use.

The Drone Zone.  It took a few seconds to figure out exactly what we were looking at.  A white S.U.V. traveling along a highway adjacent to the base came into the cross hairs in the center of the screen and was tracked as it headed south along the desert road.  When the S.U.V. drove out of the picture, the drone began following another car.  "Wait, you guys practice tracking enemies by using civilian cars?" a reporter asked.  One Air Force officer responded that this was only a training mission, and then the group was quickly hustled out of the room.

GPS Hijacking: Team of U.S. Faculty, Students Take Control of Drone.  Faculty and students at the University of Texas at Austin have proven that a sophisticated surveillance drone can be hacked mid-flight via its GPS.  The same could be done with virtually any type of drone, or even with a commercial airliner.  Drones, or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), are used both domestically — particularly along our southern border — and by the military and the CIA abroad, especially in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere.  Last week, a small team of faculty and students was able to take control of a Department of Homeland Security drone by "spoofing" its GPS.

U.S. Drone Manufacturers Contribute Millions to Congressional Campaigns.  President Obama's drone fever is contagious and is spreading worldwide, and the American industries that build the drones are slavering over the chance to supply the demand.

Air Force Wants Tiny Drones That Squirt Trackable Sensor Goo.  The Air Force wants a new kind of tracking tech in which a tiny drone surreptitiously "paints" an individual with some kind of signal-emitting powder or liquid that allows the military to keep tabs on him or her.  Or perhaps upload his coordinates to a hellfire missile.  On Tuesday, the Air Force put out a call for proposals for such technology, though it didn't specify exactly what kind of drone might deliver the magic powder, or what the magic powder might be.

FAA Has Authorized 106 Government 'Entities' to Fly Domestic Drones.  Since Jan. 1 of this year, according to congressional testimony presented Thursday [7/19/2012] by the Government Accountability Office, the Federal Aviation Administration has authorized 106 federal, state and local government "entities" to fly "unmanned aircraft systems," also known as drones, within U.S. airspace.  "We are now on the edge of a new horizon:  using unmanned aerial systems within the homeland," House Homeland Security Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Michael McCaul (R.-Texas) said as he introduced the testimony.

Drone Use Increases Worldwide; Trade Rep Says Only the Guilty Need Fear.  It's been about a year since a North Dakota man was arrested after a local SWAT team tracked him down using a Predator drone it borrowed from the Department of Homeland Security.  Although the story has not been widely reported, Rodney Brossart became one of the first (if not the first) American citizens arrested by local law enforcement with the use of a federally-owned drone surveillance vehicle after holding the police at bay for over 16 hours.

Laser-Powered Drone Could Remain Airborne Forever.  A drone being used by the United States Special Forces has the potential to remain airborne indefinitely if engineers can get the science right.  Using lasers beamed from the ground to the unmanned aerial vehicle, the military could send a continuous source of power to the drone allowing it to fly without landing for refueling.  This is the "exciting possibility" demonstrated during an indoor test flight conducted by Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the Stalker drone.  Lockheed Martin has already developed an electric version of the Stalker that has a two-hour battery life and this latest experiment is an attempt to perfect the technology that will recharge that battery from the ground while the drone remains in flight.

Bill would clip wings of private drone use.  Concern over the personal privacy implications of the nation's inevitable drone boom continues to grow on Capitol Hill.  This week, Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican and former judge, will introduce the Preserving American Privacy Act, which sets strict limits on when, and for what purpose, law enforcement agencies and other entities can use unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.  Drones are being used on a limited basis by some police and federal departments, but they will be available for commercial and private use in 2015.

Grain of salt:  This comes from a Russian news site.
Predator drones to start operations over North Dakota.  The FAA has authorized the use of remote-controlled Predator drones in the airspace above nearly 10,000 acres in North Dakota.  As of this fall, unmanned military aircraft will use lasers to aim at ground targets from nearly 2 miles above the earth.  Grand Forks, North Dakota — the third largest city in the state — will host a domestic training facility for the military's unmanned aerial vehicles starting in October.  Several times a week pilots will remotely guide robotic drones through the sky at altitudes as high of [sic] 9,999 feet above sea level and zone in [sic] on ground targets with the use of dangerous lasers.

This is an indication of the state of the art:
X-47B Completes First Pax River Flight.  Naval aviation officials chose 11 a.m. on Sunday morning [7/29/2012] to make history as the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator made its first flight at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. [...] Pax River has a simulated aircraft carrier environment to test the incredible feat of landing an unmanned aircraft on a carrier at sea.  Navy leaders hope to make the first X-47B landing on a carrier in 2013.

Somewhat related:
Self-Guided Bullets and Super Sniper Scopes Deliver Death From 2 Km.  As the technology facilitating the expansion of the surveillance state becomes more advanced, the need for proximity to the target of the surveillance diminishes.  For example, very soon drones will be equipped with lasers that can penetrate walls, map the interior of a home or other building, and scan a targeted individual's genetic code from 50 yards with dizzying speed and accuracy.  Additionally, the ability to keep drones perpetually airborne is being engineered thanks to multi-million dollar research and development grants offered by the Pentagon to companies on the edge of technological advancement.

Remember, military hardware and tactics eventually find their way into local police departments.
U.S. Air Force Training More Drone Pilots Than Traditional Pilots.  The U.S. Air Force is training more drone "pilots" than those who will be at the controls of traditional aircraft, according to the Air Force chief of staff.  To date, there are reportedly around 1,300 people controlling the Air Force's arsenal of Reaper, Predator, and Global Hawk drones, and the Pentagon plans to add about 2,500 pilots and support crew by 2014, according to an article in published August 3 by The Times (of London).  The UK paper reports that 350 new drone pilots were trained in 2011 "compared to 250 conventional fighter and bomber pilots."

Drones in the sky over America.  In a few years the skies over the United States will be filled with hundreds if not thousands of of drones, unmanned aerial vehicles, doing a variety of tasks — border security, disaster relief, search and rescue, counter-terrorism and looking down on people and streets on behalf of police departments.

One nation under surveillance.  America is no longer "one nation under God."  Today, America is "one nation under surveillance."  Cameras monitoring our every movement, satellites taking pictures of our homes, listening devices being used to record our conversations, hi-tech computers capturing virtually every piece of correspondence, banking institutions forwarding our private financial records to Big Brother, and now armed drones flying over the neighborhoods of the American citizenry all reveal that America is anything but the "land of the free."

Police Chief Group Suggests Guidelines for Use of Police Drones.  In advance of law enforcement's deployment of their drones, a group representing police chiefs have issued recommended guidelines for the lawful use of the unmanned aerial vehicles.  The Aviation Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) published a three-page pamphlet suggesting ways local police can successfully and safely include drones in their law enforcement efforts.  The document breaks down its directions into four broad categories:  community engagement, system requirements, operational procedures, and image retention.

Law enforcement groups back drone-use guidelines.  The Airborne Law Enforcement Association, the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association and the FBI National Academy Associates joined the International Association of Chiefs of Police in supporting rules designed to keep police and other agencies from abusing the power that comes with drone use.  The guidelines call for law enforcement personnel to "secure a search warrant prior to conducting the flight" if a drone could infringe upon "reasonable expectations of privacy."

Drone may be coming to Miami-Dade.  A new piece of technology may soon be coming to South Florida, but is already raising concerns from residents.  The Miami-Dade Police Department recently finalized a deal to buy a drone, which is an unmanned plane equipped with cameras.  Drones have been used for years in Iraq and Afghanistan in the war against terror.  Many residents are concerned that the new technology will violate their privacy.

Drone Gives Texas Law Enforcement Bird's-Eye View on Crime.  The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office is weeks away from launching an unmanned aerial asset to help deputies fight crime.  The ShadowHawk helicopter is six-feet long, weighs fifty pounds and fits in the back of an SUV.

At America's Biggest Drone Show, the Focus Shifts Toward Domestic Skies.  If you want to know what the future looks like, sit down and have a talk with Roy Minson.  He's the senior vice president and general manager of unmanned aircraft systems at Aerovironment, the manufacturer of nearly 85 percent of the Department of Defense's unmanned aircraft fleet — not the Reapers and Predators that so often make headlines, but small aerial systems that make up the vast majority of the DoD's 7,000 strong unmanned aircraft fleet.  That is to say, business with the defense sector is good at Aerovironment.  But today Minson is talking almost exclusively about non-military applications for the company's hardware — him, and just about everybody else at the nation's largest robotic systems show.

U.S. Navy Cloak Blade Inherently Stealthy Micro-Copter Presentation.  A presentation accompanied a recent demonstration of the Cloak Blade, a micro-copter developed by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory under contract from the U.S. Navy.

Will Police Drones Destroy the Fourth Amendment?  Although the president's use of drones to execute the war on terror and those he assumes are associated with it has so far occurred only outside the United States, soon drones will slice through the domestic skies, as well.  While the sight of drones over U.S. cities and towns is rare now, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) predicts that by 2020, 30,000 of these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will be patrolling American airspace.  Scores of these UAVs will be deployed by state and local law enforcement, adding to the many that will be sent airborne by the federal government.

The coming drone attack on America.  Drones on domestic surveillance duties are already deployed by police and corporations.  In time, they will likely be weaponised.

The anti-drone hoodie which can make its wearer invisible to spies in the sky.  Those concerned about the conspiratorial machinations of the state surveillance infrastructure can now swap their tin-foil hats for a more fashion conscious accessory.  A New York-based artist has designed an 'anti-drone hoodie' stitched from metallised material used to counter the infra-red cameras that spy drones use to spot people on the ground.

Incredible U.S. military spy drone.  A sinister airborne surveillance camera gives the U.S. military the ability to track movements in an entire city like a real-time Google Street View.  The ARGUS-IS array can be mounted on unmanned drones to capture an area of 15 [square] miles in an incredible 1,800 MP — that's 225 times more sensitive than an iPhone camera.

City in Virginia Becomes First to Pass Anti-Drone Legislation.  Charlottesville, Va., has become the first city in the United States to formally pass an anti-drone resolution.  The resolution, passed Monday, "calls on the United States Congress and the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia to adopt legislation prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a Federal or State court," and "pledges to abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones."

Texas "Anti Drone" Laws Would be Toughest in USA.  Texas would have the toughest anti-drone legislation in the country under a bill filed by State Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Terrell).

Which police departments want drones?  Following a FOIA request from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Federal Aviation Administration has released an updated list of bodies, both public and private, that have applied for permission to fly surveillance drones in U.S. airspace.  The FAA lists 81 entities altogether including police departments, government agencies and universities such as Cornell and Penn State.

FAA moves closer to widespread US drone flights with plan for test sites.  A future in which unmanned drones are as common in U.S. skies as helicopters and airliners has moved a step closer to reality with a government request for proposals to create six drone test sites around the country.

FAA To Kick Off State Drone 'Competition'.  States will soon compete to operate six unmanned aircraft test sites, commonly known as drones, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Wednesday [2/13/2013].  The FAA wants states to compete for the drone test sites, which were mandated by Congress last year in the 2012 FAA Reauthorization bill.  The sites will test the safety of drones before they are introduced into the National Airspace System by 2015.

Like a Swarm of Lethal Bugs: The Most Terrifying Drone Video Yet.  An Air Force simulation says researchers are at work on killer robots so tiny that a group of them could blend into a cityscape.

DHS re-designs Predator drones to spy on Americans.  The documents provide more details about the surveillance capabilities of the department's unmanned Predator B drones, which are primarily used to patrol the United States' northern and southern borders but have been pressed into service on behalf of a growing number of law enforcement agencies including the FBI, the Secret Service, the Texas Rangers, and local police.

US Drones Intercept Electronic Communications and Identify Human Targets.  New records obtained by EPIC under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection is operating drones in the United States capable of intercepting electronic communications.  The records also suggest that the ten Predator B drones operated by the agency have the capacity to recognize and identify a person on the ground.  Approximately, 2/3 of the US population is subject to surveillance by the CBP drones.

Will drones be used to spy on Americans?  A small group of police and fire departments around the country are using new high-tech drones for emergency response situations stoking fears about misuse of the unmanned aircraft.  Some are using sophisticated fixed-wing drones that can remain in the air for hours as well as online digital mapping software to create virtual crimes scenes.

Homeland Security Drones Designed to Identify Civilians Carrying Guns.  Recently uncovered government documents reveal that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) unmanned Predator B drone fleet has been custom designed to identify civilians carrying guns and track cell phone signals.  "I am very concerned that this technology will be used against law-abiding American firearms owners," said founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, Alan Gottlieb.  "This could violate Fourth Amendment rights as well as Second Amendment rights."

Weaponized drones.  Drone manufacturers may offer police remote controlled drones with weapons like rubber bullets, Tasers, and tear gas.  Congress has required the Federal Aviation Administration to loosen their regulations on drones and allow more drones in domestic airspace by 2015.

Oregon Company to Sell Drone Defense Technology to Public.  Do you want to keep drones out of your backyard?  An Oregon company says that it has developed and will soon start selling technology that disables unmanned aircraft.  The company, called Domestic Drone Countermeasures, was founded in late February because some of its engineers see unmanned aerial vehicles — which are already being flown by law enforcement in some areas and could see wider commercial integration into American airspace by 2015 — as unwanted eyes in the sky.

The Other Drone Question: Is Obama Building A Federal Police Force?  [Scroll down]  Put it all together, and it sure looks like Obama is building the backbone for that national police force he wanted the first time he ran for office.  Worse yet, both Democrats and Republicans are now openly discussing a plan to put all the drones flown in America's skies, including those owned and operated by local police departments, under the ultimate supervision of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, consolidating the country's surveillance and law enforcement powers under one powerful federal police jurisdiction.

17 Civilian Drone Facts You Really Should Know.  [#13]  Connections between UAVs and the operators are easily broken.  The frequency between the drone and its operator is easily lost.  Civilian drones use the same frequencies (GPS) as your cell phone.  The frequencies are subject to interference from variables such as weather or deliberate jamming.  [#14]  Drones are easily hacked.  Under the direction of the US Department of Homeland Security, engineering students were told to see if they could hack a drone.  They did, and were easily able to substitute their information for the drone's programming via GPS.

GAO report on unmanned aircraft systems, September 2012.  [Scroll down to page 36]  Additionally, a June 2012 poll conducted by Monmouth University reported that 42 percent of those sampled were very concerned about their own privacy if U.S. law enforcement started using UAS [unmanned aircraft systems] with high tech cameras, while 15 percent said they were not at all concerned.  However, the poll reported that of those sampled, 80 percent said they supported the use of UAS for search and rescue missions while 67 percent said they oppose the use of UAS to issue speeding tickets.

Hundreds of Drones Go Homeless.  As the war in Afghanistan winds down, many commanders are asking what is going to happen to the large fleet of drones that have patrolled the skies, according to the Air Force Times [...]

The Editor says...
See if you can predict the fate of surplus military UAVs.  What's going to become of them?
    (A)  They will be dismantled and sent to a recycling company.
    (B)  They will be sold at Army Surplus stores.
    (C)  The weapons will be removed (if we're lucky) and they will be given to big-city police departments.

Somewhat related:
PETA Plans to Fly Drones That Would 'Stalk Hunters'.  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is actively shopping for a drone that would "stalk hunters," the organization said Monday [4/8/2013].  The group says it will "soon have some impressive new weapons at its disposal to combat those who gun down deer and doves" and that it is "shopping for one or more drone aircraft with which to monitor those who are out in the woods with death on their minds."  The group says it will not weaponize the drones, but will use them to film potentially illegal hunting activity and turn it over to law enforcement.

The Editor says...
The PETA people obviously do not understand hunting or hunters.  I don't know much about it myself, but here's what I think I know:  Most hunting takes place on private property in the middle of nowhere with the permission of the property owner.  The people who engage in "illegal hunting activity" aren't gonna hesitate to blow a PETA drone to pieces, and the PETA people would be wise (for once) to forget about looking for those pieces.  In any event, how can you tell a private drone from a police drone?

Glenn Beck: If Police Get Drones, 'The 2nd Amendment Is Absolutely Dead'.  Senator Rand Paul's media tour following his "misunderestimated" statements on drones brought him to Glenn Beck's radio show Friday, where the two men discussed the prospects of a terrifying future where police cars have "robotic firing arms" that take down criminals with the push of a button.  If that ever happens, Beck told Paul, "the Second Amendment is absolutely dead."

Dodging drones.  The mayhem following Boston's Marathon massacre left four dead and 260 injured, prompting Police Commissioner Edward Davis last week to endorse the use of unmanned spy aircraft above next year's marathon.  "Drones are a great idea," he told the Boston Herald.  Actually, they're not. [...] Surveillance cameras don't prevent crime.  There was no lack of video footage of the marathon, and the images were useful in quickly identifying the suspects after the fact.  Much of the useful footage came from men and women filming the finish line or from cameras installed to watch over nearby shops and stores. Government drones would not have thwarted the attack.

Bill to Allow Police to Use Drones Without Search Warrant Heads to Maine Senate.  In a narrow decision, lawmakers accepted an amendment to a bill offered by Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford, that could allow police to use a drone without a search warrant.  In a 7-6 vote on May 1, the Legislature's Judiciary Committee sided with Maine Attorney General Janet Mills on the issue of how police can employ unmanned aerial vehicles in criminal investigations.

Chicago Suburb Approves Two Year Ban on Drones.  The Evanston City Council voted 5-4 for a two year ban on the use of airborne drones.  The vote brought together an odd coalition of people:  the anti-war groups were joined by the libertarians and the privacy advocates to pass the measure.

Mueller: FBI deploys drones in US for 'limited' surveillance.  The FBI uses drones to watch specific targets within the United States, the bureau's chief said Wednesday [6/19/2013].  FBI Director Robert Mueller told senators the agency uses drones infrequently for surveillance in the U.S., and only in regards to specific investigations.  "Our footprint is very small," Mueller said in testimony.  "We have very few and have limited use."

FBI Chief Admits Use of Drones in Skies Over U.S..  Federal Aviation Administration officials claim that within the next five years there will be close to 10,000 civilian drones in use once the FAA grants them greater access to U.S. skies.  Congress had directed the FAA to provide drones with widespread access to domestic airspace by 2015, but the agency is behind in its development of safety regulations and isn't expected to meet that deadline even though the FAA has granted more than two hundred permits to state and local governments, police departments, universities and others to experiment with using small drones.

Colorado town, concerned about surveillance, considers drone hunting licenses.  The small Colorado town of Deer Trail is considering an ordinance that would create drone-hunting licenses and offer bounties for hunters who shoot down an unmanned aerial vehicle.  "We do not want drones in town," Phillip Steel, a resident in town who drafted the ordinance and submitted it for approval by the town board, told The Denver Post.  "They fly in town, they get shot down."

FAA warns shooting at drone could result in prosecution similar to shooting at manned airplane.  People who fire guns at drones are endangering the public and property and could be prosecuted or fined, the Federal Aviation Administration warned Friday [7/19/2013].  The FAA released a statement in response to questions about an ordinance under consideration in the tiny farming community of Deer Trail, Colo., that would encourage hunters to shoot down drowns.  The administration reminded the public that it regulates the nation's airspace, including the airspace over cities and towns.

The Editor says...
This is one of the symptoms of impending tyranny:  "The authorities" establish severe penalties for interference in their pet projects.  In this case, they are equating unmanned aircraft with manned aircraft, much like the way they equate a police dog with a police officer.

Bravado is contagious.
FBI says it doesn't need warrant to use drones.  The FBI has told Congress it does not need to get a warrant to conduct surveillance with drones, in a letter laying out some of the top federal law enforcement agency's policies for how it uses unmanned aerial vehicles.  In a July 19 letter to Sen. Rand Paul, Stephen D. Kelly, assistant director for the FBI's congressional liaison office, said the agency has used drones in 10 instances, including twice for "national security" cases and eight times for criminal cases.  The FBI authorized the use of drones in three other criminal cases but didn't deploy them.

Drone industry gives journalists not-so-subtle hint — don't use the word 'drones'.  "Drone" is a dirty word at this week's drone industry convention in Washington.  The sector long has opposed use of the term, seen by some as having an inherently negative connotation that doesn't accurately describe the awesome technology and potential positive uses of today's unmanned aerial vehicles.

Even a small aircraft overhead can put you in danger.
Toy helicopter kills teen in Brooklyn: report.  A model helicopter hobbyist was killed Thursday [9/5/2013] when a remote controlled helicopter cut off the top of his head in a Brooklyn, N.Y., park.

Texas law gets tough on public, private drone use.  More than 40 state legislatures have debated the increasing presence of unmanned aircraft in civilian airspace, with most of the proposals focused on protecting people from overly intrusive surveillance by law enforcement.

What could possibly be the motive, other than chest-thumping territorialism?
FEMA threatens to arrest volunteer drone operators during Colorado flood relief.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) threatened to arrest anyone flying drones over the Colorado flood damage over the weekend, even those volunteering with the relief effort.  On Saturday [9/14/2013], FEMA grounded Colorado company Falcon UAV — a drone manufacturer that had been helping local authorities map the disaster area in near-real time — and threatened to arrest anyone flying a drone over the disaster area, IEEE Spectrum reports.

Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey to team for drone tests.  Maryland has agreed to work with Virginia and New Jersey on research into unmanned aircraft, a move that could strengthen Maryland's bid to land one of the six drone test sites to be awarded this year by the Federal Aviation Administration.  The three states are among the 25 finalists seeking an FAA-sanctioned site to study how unmanned aircraft might safely be integrated into U.S. airspace.

Ignoring the Constitution.  [Scroll down]  The president also has stepped up the use of airborne drones to spy on Americans in apparent violation of the Fourth Amendment prohibition of unreasonable and unwarranted searches.  Previously owning up to only two instances of domestic unmanned aerial surveillance, officials of the Customs and Border Protection service released a list last week of 500 occasions over three years in which the agency flew Predator drone missions on behalf of other federal agencies.

How drones will change your life.  Apart from what they do for the military; drones have already proven themselves capable sheep herders, delivery boys, tour guides, filmmakers, archaeologists, and — possibly — spies.  The global economic potential of these machines is astounding; a recent study estimated the worldwide market for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at $89 billion in 2013.

US announces six drone test sites.  The US aviation regulator has announced the six states that will host sites for testing commercial use of drones.  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) picked Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia.  The sites are part of a programme to develop safety and operational rules for drones by the end of 2015.

FAA says New York, five other states chosen to host drone test sites.  New York was among six states selected Monday to develop sites to test drones, a decision that likely will bring the unmanned aircraft to New York's skies and badly needed jobs to upstate.  The New York site will be at Griffiss International Airport, a former Air Force base in upstate Rome. Aerospace firms and universities in New York and Massachusetts will be involved in the research.

FAA names 6 sites for testing drones.  The Federal Aviation Administration named six teams across the nation that will host the development and testing of drones to fly safely in the same skies as commercial airliners.  The announcement represents a major milestone toward the goal of sharing the skies by the end of 2015, in what is projected to become an industry worth billions of dollars.  But technical hurdles and privacy concerns remain in a regulatory program that's already a year behind schedule.

Blimplike surveillance craft set to deploy over Maryland heighten privacy concerns.  They will look like two giant white blimps floating high above I-95 in Maryland, perhaps en route to a football game somewhere along the bustling Eastern Seaboard.  But their mission will have nothing to do with sports and everything to do with war.  The aerostats — that is the term for lighter-than-air craft that are tethered to the ground — are to be set aloft on Army-owned land about 45 miles northeast of Washington, near Aberdeen Proving Ground, for a three-year test slated to start in October.

Drone Surveillance Leads to Man's Arrest, Prison Sentence.  Rodney Brossart has a unique distinction, although it may not be one he wanted.  The North Dakota man became the first person to be sentenced as a result of drone surveillance in the United States.  Brossart's three-year sentence comes following a 116-hour stand-off with a SWAT team on his ranch in 2011.  The team was called in after Brossart resisted arrest for not returning livestock from a neighboring farm that had wandered on to his property; Brossart and his three sons then engaged in the stand-off before authorities brought in the Predator drone.

Meet CUPID: The Drone That Will Shoot You With an 80,000 Volt Taser.  Are drones not scary enough for you yet?  How about this?  A drone helicopter that spots you and identifies you as an intruder.  It tells you to stop and put your hands behind your head.  Instead, you keep coming.  The drone then shoots you with barbed Taser darts that pump 80,000 volts into you.  If you try to get up, it will continue pumping voltage into you until you submit and the authorities arrive.  This isn't some dystopian theory.  It's very real already, and I just saw it in action.  Yes, it is terrifying.

Prepare for drones that 'perch' on power lines to recharge, never have to land.  Imagine a world where drones never have to touch the ground after takeoff.  That's what MIT PhD. candidate Joseph Moore did, and now he's on the cusp of creating a drone that can "perch" on power lines just like birds to recharge its batteries.

L.A. drones: LAPD gets new UAVs to combat crime.  The Los Angeles Police Department announced Friday [5/30/2014] it had added two "unmanned aerial vehicles" to it's arsenal on Friday.  The department received the two Draganflyer X6 aircraft as gifts from the Seattle Police Department, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday [5/30/2014].  Both drones are equipped with a camera, video recording and infrared night-vision capabilities, the newspaper reported.  LAPD officials were hesitant to refer to the gifts as drones, avoiding negative connotations the word has taken on alluding to privacy concerns.

Somewhat related:
BP allowed commercial drones by US regulators in unprecedented decision.  The Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday it has granted the first permission for commercial drone flights over US land to the BP energy corporation, the latest effort by the agency to show it is loosening restrictions on commercial uses of the unmanned aircraft.

Has the Dept. of Homeland Security become America's standing army?  The DHS has been at the forefront of funding and deploying surveillance robots and drones for land, sea and air, including robots that resemble fish and tunnel-bots that can travel underground.  Despite repeated concerns over the danger surveillance drones used domestically pose to Americans' privacy rights, the DHS has continued to expand its fleet of Predator drones, which come equipped with video cameras, infrared cameras, heat sensors, and radar.  DHS also loans its drones out to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies for a variety of tasks, although the agency refuses to divulge any details as to how, why and in what capacity these drones are being used by police.

Military Blimps Will Float In Aberdeen, Tracking Potential Threats.  As Mike Schuh reports, two large blimps will soon rise over Harford County and stay put.  Radar blimps like these have been used on the battlefield to track the enemy, and in the Caribbeanto intercept drug runners.  Testing in Utah is complete.  Now they're being packed up and sent to Maryland.

The cops like their drones, but they don't like YOUR drones.
2 arrested after drones nearly take out NYPD chopper.  Two drones nearly took out an NYPD chopper over the George Washington Bridge on Monday, and cops arrested the wayward devices' operators, law-enforcement sources told The [New York] Post.  The Aviation Unit helicopter was on patrol around 12:15 a.m. when it had to swerve to avoid the small, unmanned aircraft, the sources said.  The NYPD pilots "observed flying object[s] at 2,000 feet in vicinity of the George Washington Bridge, then circling heading toward the helicopter," a police report said.




Seat belt laws:
They're not about public safety, they're about control.

Seat belt laws give cops an excuse to stop motorists and look for other violations.  This has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with justifying the cop's paycheck.  Your local TV reporter is much too eager to assist in this effort, telling you only the government's side of the story.

Should you wear a seatbelt?  Of course.  I wouldn't drive 50 feet without wearing my seatbelt.  But in a "free country" it should be voluntary.

Feds Propose Tracking Black Boxes in All New Cars.  The vehicle black boxes — which are either tiny standalone devices or part of a vehicle's computer system — are to record speed, engine throttle, breaking, ignition, safety belt usage, the number of passengers, airbag deployment, and among other things time of the recording and sometimes a passenger's location, depending on a vehicle's model.

The Editor says...
There will be no need for the cops to ask you if you were wearing your seatbelt two minutes ago.  Your car will snitch on you.

Buckles and bucks:  The seat belt mandate is back.  The people of New Hampshire are about to find out if their legislators are so hard up for money that they will sell their principles for cash.  Every legislative session, leftist and "moderate" lawmakers try to pass a law requiring drivers to wear seat belts.  The argument is always the same:  The law will save lives.  This year, the argument is different:  The law will bring cash.

Facts About State Mandatory Seat Belt Harness Laws:  While the use of a seat belt has saved some people in certain kinds of traffic accidents, there is ample proof that in other kinds, some people have been more seriously injured and even killed only because of forced seat belt use. ╔ The public is denied the right to know there is a legitimate contrary side to the seat belt law controversy.  At one time, it was the same with air bags until one investigative reporter decided to start printing the truth about air bag dangers in certain kinds of traffic accidents.

Big Brother There's a web site about this specific issue:
Seat Belt Choice dot com.  There is a concerted effort from Washington through the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to pressure every state in America to enact a primary seat belt law and make everyone buckle up or lose federal transportation money.  A primary law means you can be stopped solely if you or someone else in your vehicle is not wearing a seat belt.  And if you are stopped, you may be ticketed, fined and perhaps even arrested.

The truth about seat belts:  When we read the instructions to police officers and emergency personnel for filling out the FARS data forms, we learn that all persons who fell off the bed of a pickup truck or fell off a snowmobile or a three-wheel or four-wheel ATV or from a go-cart are to be listed as having been "ejected".  Moreover, there is no evidence to prove that all the persons who are listed as having been "ejected" actually were. ╔ When we look at the actual data we find that most of these data points are coded as "9" which is the FARS code in this category for "unknown".  In other words, all they really know in most cases is that the victims was outside the vehicle when they arrived on the scene.

Seat belt laws:  Primary seat belt laws give law enforcement agents a virtual carte blanche to conduct traffic stops.  Nevada's recent experience proves states don't need more intrusive statutes to persuade more people to buckle up.

The cops aren't always wearing seat belts themselves.
No seat belts in 42% of fatal police car crashes.  The study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which analyzed 733 crashes from 1980 through 2008, comes less than a week after a separate report found that fatal traffic incidents in 2010 were the leading cause of officer deaths for the 13th straight year. ... Some officers resist wearing seat belts because the restraints slow their movement in and out of the cars, Floyd says.  Others complain that the straps get tangled in utility and gun belts.

Dangerous Changes in Seat Belt Law:  Primary enforcement allows the police to freely go on a "fishing" expedition to find sometime wrong under the pretense of not using a seat belt.  Primary enforcement resuscitates the once dreaded "general warrants" of King George III of colonial America against motorists.

On the other hand...
In Praise of Routine Traffic Stops:  In July 2004, Michael Wagner's not wearing a seat belt got him stopped in a SUV near Council Bluffs, Iowa, that had in it "flight training manuals and a simulator, documents in Arabic, bulletproof vests and night-vision goggles, a night-vision scope for a rifle, a telescope, a 9mm semiautomatic pistol and hundreds of rounds of ammunition."

One more step toward cradle-to-grave nanny state paternalism:
Stricter booster seat requirements begin Sunday.  Six- and 7-year-olds who had "graduated" from their booster seat to a passenger seat will find themselves back in the saddle come Sunday [1/1/2012], thanks to a new law designed to increase child safety in California.  California state law currently requires parents to keep their kids in booster seats until they reach the age of 6 or weigh at least 60 pounds.

The Great Golden State Business Exodus.  One would think that given the serious nature of [California's] problems, the legislature would focus on solutions at the exclusion of all else.  Instead, lawmakers — what would we ever do without them? — found the time in 2011 to trespass even deeper into Californians' personal lives.  Topping off Sacramento's monument to foolishness is a law requiring children younger than 8, except for those taller than 4 feet 9 inches, to sit in booster seats in cars.  Previous law let kids leave their boosters at 6.  Now children who had moved out of cars seats are being forced back into them.  Actually, the law is more authoritarian — and offensive and infuriating — than it is silly.

The Editor says...
This is another example of incremental changes in restictive laws, and once again, the changes only move in one direction.

Not buckling up your pet in the car can mean big fines.  Judging from the alarming number of summonses issued so far for failing to buckle up in the back seat, motorists don't seem overly concerned about the current Click It or Ticket crackdown.  After all, most unrestrained drivers and passengers can afford a measly $46 fine.  But if you drive with an unrestrained pet, don't expect a slap on the wrist.  Penalties range from $250 to $1,000 and as much as six months in jail.

The Editor says...
Just imagine if they catch you with a box of kittens in the back of your truck!

Ranch exempt from 'Click It or Ticket'.  President Bush found himself in a flap Tuesday about seat-belt use, a day after a federal agency began a campaign to encourage drivers to buckle up.  Video cameras caught Bush without his seat belt while driving a pickup on his Texas ranch last weekend, giving a tour to NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

The Editor says...
Most of the reporters who cover the White House beat probably have very little experience with wide-open ranch land.  It is also possible that some of the reporters have never considered the possibility that certain laws do not apply on private property.

Obama and Biden don't use seatbelts
If you're important enough, you don't need to wear seatbelts, even while surrounded by cops.
(White House photo by Pete Souza)




You're guilty of something, we just need to figure out what it is.

There are so many laws on the books these days, it's almost as if every activity is either mandatory or prohibited.  If you look suspicious and you fail the "attitude test", it won't take long for the neighborhood policeman to think of some charge to file.

NY Deputy Attacks Man For Refusing Search Over Legal Gun.  Saratoga County, NY Deputy Sgt. Shawn Glans can likely kiss his law enforcement career goodbye after assaulting a young man who refused to consent to the search of his vehicle after deputies spotted an otherwise legal rifle in the back seat of the vehicle.  The stunning example of law enforcement abuse of power was caught on video.

Connecticut Supreme Court Says State Cops Can Detain You Simply For Being In The Vicinity Of Someone They're Arresting.  Gideon, the pseudonymous public defender who blogs at A Public Defender, has a thorough rundown of a very disturbing ruling recently issued by the Connecticut Supreme Court. It involves every Connecticut citizens' civil liberties, which have now been thrown under a bus bearing the name "officer safety."  The court's decision basically makes everyone a suspect, even if they're suspected of nothing else than being in the relative proximity of someone a police officer suspects of committing a crime, or someone simply "matching the description."

Cop beats up model Air Force captain in his own home, issues arrest weeks later.  An Air Force captain discovered he was banned from Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California, due to pending charges against him from a previous encounter with a cop who had tried to arrest him for entering his own home.  The charges — resisting arrest and obstructing an officer — have infuriated Captain Nicolas Aquino, a first-generation immigrant whose parents came to the United States from Paraguay as political exiles.  Last December, an officer paid a visit to Aquino's Monterey residence.  Apparently, a neighbor had seen a man entering Aquino's home, and reported a possible burglary to the authorities.  The "burglar" was Aquino himself.  No one else was in the house.

Lawsuit: Cops found nothing in raid, so they planted drugs to frame innocent woman.  California cops planted drugs in a woman's home to frame her after finding nothing in their illegal search of her home, a lawsuit alleges.  Allison Ross has filed a federal lawsuit against against the Santa Clara sheriff's department, crime lab and 12 officers that she claims participated in a conspiracy to plant drugs in her house and frame her for a crime she did not commit.  Ross was initially charged with being under the influence of methamphetamine, but the case against her was thrown out after the district attorney determined that the police made false statements about Ross's arrest.

Annie Dookhan's Falsified Lab Data: Symptom of a Corrupted System.  Friday [12/6/2013], former Massachusetts chemist Annie Dookhan pleaded guilty to all 27 counts of falsifying nearly 40,000 criminal drug cases, effectively upending the Massachusetts criminal justice system.  Dookhan admitted to filing false test results, mixing drug samples together, and lying under oath about her job qualifications. [...] Dookhan's "dry labbing" is just one part of a structure that incentivizes people working in the criminal justice system to get convictions — not truth — and put as many people in prison as possible without regard to their actual guilt.

No One Is Innocent.  Have you ever thrown out some junk mail that came to your house but was addressed to someone else?  That's a violation of federal law punishable by up to 5 years in prison.  Harvey Silverglate argues that a typical American commits three felonies a day.  I think that number is too high but it is easy to violate the law without intent or knowledge.

We're all potential suspects and should be treated as such, apparently.  Earlier today [6/19/2013], a Washington Examiner editorial warned that "if phone records are useful now in stopping terrorist attacks, how long before politicians and bureaucrats decide archiving the entire phone call would be even more useful?  How long before the limitations and safeguards now in place are set aside?"  Within a few hours, King provided an illustration of precisely what the [Washington] Examiner editors fear.  Responding to a question by Fox News' Bill Hemmer about why the government needs everyone's phone numbers and not just suspects', King said, "Because if you don't have all of them, the system is incomplete."

6,125 Proposed Regulations and Notifications Posted in Last 90 Days — Average 68 per Day.  It's Friday morning, and so far today, the Obama administration has posted 165 new regulations and notifications on its reguations.gov website.  In the past 90 days, it has posted 6,125 regulations and notices — an average of 68 a day.

Once You're On the 'List,' You Can't Get Off.  Thanks to the all-encompassing nature of federal databases, and the seamless integration of the "Homeland Security" apparatus, every police officer and sheriff's deputy has the ability to ruin the life of any Mundane who displays something other than instant and unconditional submission.  This was demonstrated in the case of Los Angeles resident Shawn Nee, an amateur photographer, who was accosted by sheriff's deputies while taking photos of subway turnstiles.

Court Rules Motorists Can Be Detained For Paying By Cash at Toll Booths.  The Eleventh Circuit US Court of Appeals has ruled that private contractors operating toll roads on behalf of the state have the power to detain and store records on motorists who pay by cash at toll booths — another example of how using cash is increasingly being treated as a suspicious activity.

The 5 Dumbest Drug Laws in America.  In Texas, it's illegal to buy or sell chemistry equipment without the state's permission. [...] In Florida, every drug user is a potential drug trafficker.

Paying Cash for that Latte? It May Land You on FBI's Terrorist List.  Really?  Yes, crazy as it sounds, in our post-9/11 snitch/spy/surveillance society, if you "always pay cash," you may be marked as a potential terrorist.  That's according to an FBI flyer that appears to be aimed at proprietors and employees of Internet cafés.

Some laws are on the books just in case the cops can't think of anything else you've done wrong.
Use a Computer, Go to Jail.  If you are reading this column online at work, you may be committing a federal crime.  Or so says the Justice Department, which reads the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) broadly enough to encompass personal use of company computers as well as violations of website rules that people routinely ignore.  In April the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rightly rejected this view of the CFAA, which Chief Judge Alex Kozinski noted could conceivably make a criminal out of "everyone who uses a computer."

Do You Like Online Privacy? You May Be a Terrorist.  A flyer designed by the FBI and the Department of Justice to promote suspicious activity reporting in internet cafes lists basic tools used for online privacy as potential signs of terrorist activity.  The document, part of a program called "Communities Against Terrorism", lists the use of "anonymizers, portals, or other means to shield IP address" as a sign that a person could be engaged in or supporting terrorist activity.  The use of encryption is also listed as a suspicious activity along with steganography, the practice of using "software to hide encrypted data in digital photos" or other media.  In fact, the flyer recommends that anyone "overly concerned about privacy" or attempting to "shield the screen from view of others" should be considered suspicious and potentially engaged in terrorist activities.

Insult added to injury:
Florida man who lost hand charged with feeding gator.  A Florida airboat captain whose hand was bitten off by a 9-foot alligator faces charges of feeding of the animal.

Student jailed for 2 nights when she can't show ID.  News about the Police Department lately could run under the headline of the daily Dismal Development, starting with a judge declaring Tuesday that an officer was guilty of planting drugs on entirely innocent people and continuing back a few days to gun-smuggling, pepper-spraying and ticket-fixing.  Here, in the pointless arrest of Ms. Zucker, is a crime that is not even on the books:  the staggering waste of spirit, the squandering of public resources, the follies disguised as crime-fighting.

Did the U.S. Sanction Murder?  In the Declaration of Independence, our Founding Fathers said one of the reasons for their rebellion against King George is that he had "erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance."  Those brave gentlemen wouldn't believe how many Swarms of Officers harass us today, or how much of our Substance they consume. ... Our government has created so many rules and regulations and has so many agents and inspectors to enforce them, there is no way on earth you can obey them all.  If they want to get you for something, they can.  And worst of all, in many cases you are guilty until you prove yourself innocent.

We All Have Something to Hide.  Criminalizing huge swaths of behavior is one of government's favorite weapons.  Not only does it bring much of life under rulers' control, it also silences dissent.  Authorities can easily muzzle critics by investigating them.  Given an endless list of laws and the likelihood of having broken some, which of us wouldn't quail at the threat of such a fishing expedition?

Victims of Over-Zealous Police Officers:  No one disputes the fact that seat belts save lives.  Most states, therefore, have buckle-up laws that make it a misdemeanor to drive with being properly belted.  However, in Texas, the Transportation Code not only permits a police officer to stop a driver for the non-use of seat belts, it also permits the officer to arrest the driver for violating that law.  Gail Atwater was one of those unfortunate Texans.

Running From the Police — Is It Sufficient For A Stop?  In a 5-4 decision decided in January, the United States Supreme Court effectively dished up more power onto the plates of law enforcement officers, giving them the authority to detain a person who flees at the mere sight of a policeman.

A nation choking on endless laws.  Heading back to work this week, Americans were greeted not only by a new year but also by a whole slew of new laws — 31,000 of them at the state level — covering everything from guns to 100-watt light bulbs to, of course, "health care."  As usual, most of these laws tell us what we can't do:  texting while driving (duh), cyberbullying and smoking in bars.  In the near future, everyone will be a criminal for at least 15 minutes, whether they know it or not.

Every American Is Now a Criminal!  You think you are a law abiding citizen, don't you?  Think again!  You have been, you are now, and you will continue to break the law for the rest of your life, because there are too many laws, with millions more laws to follow.  Many of these laws are totally unconstitutional but have never been challenged in the courts.  Sometimes you break the law without any knowledge of it, even though ignorance of the law is not an excuse, if you are caught.  But worse, millions are breaking the law because they are convinced the laws are illegal, or just plain stupid.  With more people intentionally breaking the law, eventually the rule of law breaks down, as does our Republic.  The examples of stupid laws would fill volumes.  Examples of conflicting laws would fill even more volumes.

Top Ten Campus Follies of 2002:  [For example] An American University student was pinned down and handcuffed outside a Tipper Gore speech by plainclothes campus police who refused to identify themselves.  The student was charged with stealing Gore's intellectual property by videotaping her speech, which was open to the public.

How Free Are We Really?  There is neither such thing as a people with complete freedom nor one completely bereft of it; it's a matter of degree.  While many realize this, few understand that there is a barometer with which liberty can be measured:  The number of laws in existence.  By definition, a law is the removal of a freedom, as it dictates that there is something you cannot or must do. ... Every year our nation enacts more and more laws but hardly ever rescinds any, which means every year we become progressively less free.  I call this "creeping totalitarianism."

Federal Regulations Back to Near-Record Levels.  Federal government regulators issued 4,148 new rules in the 71,269-page Federal Register in 2003, 19 fewer than they did in 2002.  The cost of those rules appears nowhere in the federal budget.  According to the Federal Register, the five most active rule-producing agencies — the Departments of Treasury, Transportation, Homeland Security, and Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency — account for 46 percent of the rules under consideration.

Ten Thousand Commandments 2011.  Thanks to the bailouts and other amplified spending, CBO projects a FY 2011 deficit of a previously unthinkable $1.48 trillion, greater than FY 2010's actual deficit of $1.294 trillion.  With the unveiling of the 2012 budget, President Obama projects an even larger FY 2011 deficit than CBO does:  $1.645 trillion.  This figure will be the largest deficit since World War II, at 11 percent of the entire U.S. economy.

Time to stop the flood of federal regulation.  According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute's just-updated annual snapshot of federal regulations — "Ten Thousand Commandments" — the federal government spent $49.1 billion to enforce regulations in 2008, costing businesses $1.17 trillion to comply.  In other words, businesses are being forced to allocate vast sums of money and time to comply with the federal government's bewilderingly complex rules and mandates.

10,000 Commandments (2010 edition).  Precise regulatory costs can never be fully known, because, unlike taxes, they are unbudgeted and often indirect.  But scattered government and private data exist on scores of regulations and on the agencies that issue them, as well as on regulatory costs and benefits.  Some of that information can be compiled to make the regulatory state somewhat more comprehensible.

Earlier issues of "10,000 Commandments":
[1996] [1999] [2001] [2002] [2003] [2004] [2005] [2006] [2007] [2008] [2009]

Law restricting cell use in cars takes effect today.  Beginning today [3/1/2008], police in New Jersey can write $100 tickets to motorists they catch using hand-held cell phones behind the wheel.  Cell phone use by drivers has been against the law in New Jersey since 2004, but it has been a secondary offense.  A police officer could only write a ticket if the driver had been pulled over for speeding or running a stop light or some other infraction.  The updated law makes talking or texting on a hand-held cell phone a primary offense.

The Editor says...
Oh, yes, and it makes another handy excuse to look for guns and drugs in the car during a traffic stop.  That's where the real money is anyway.  But what about the use of CB radio, FRS walkie-talkies and other two-way radios?  What about other activities that require the use of a hand, such as smoking, taking a sip of a beverage, or catching a sneeze with a Kleenex?  Is it now illegal in New Jersey to apply make-up while driving to work?

Why the Proposed Car Cellphone Ban Is Wrong.  It has been said that we can't go a day without breaking the law.  This one is for those who haven't broken any of the millions of others yet.  The ruling class can always put your in jail for something.  You're only exempt if you are a member of the ruling class.

6 Laws You've Broken Without Even Realizing It.  Say hello to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which makes it a crime to gain "unauthorized access" to a computer or a website.  What does "unauthorized access" actually mean?  Nobody knows.  But the law says it applies to wireless routers.

Buckle up laws were just the beginning.
Unsafe at Any Smoke.  A study just released by the CDC characterizes second-hand smoke as the latest threat to "safety" — and of course, "the children."  It urges what you'd expect:  That it be made illegal to smoke in your own car, at least, if "the children" are present and possibly even if they're not.  For as any smoker knows — as anyone who has shopped for used cars knows — any car that has been smoked in retains the essence of the Marlboro Man for years, even decades after the last butt was crumpled in the ashtray.

California's New Frisbee Law Just Latest Attempt to Raise Cash.  This week, Los Angeles County okayed a new regulation banning the throwing of Frisbees or footballs on the beaches — which, of course, destroys the purpose of living in Southern California in the first place.  The first offense will earn you a hefty $100 fine; the second, $200; the third and beyond, $500.  You can, of course, apply for a permit.  For parents with industrious children, holes deeper than 18 inches are also banned — so get your kids the cheap plastic shovels or pay a fine.

Los Angeles County Bans Frisbees on Beaches.  The moonbat micromanagers ruling La-La Land must finally be running out of things to ban.  Now they're suppressing fun on the beach.

End the Drug War, Mr. President.  The War on Drugs has been a massive failure by any serious estimation.  Sixty-seven percent of our nations' [sic] police chiefs consider it so.

The War on Drugs: Because Prohibition Worked So Well ...  Forty years ago, the United States locked up fewer than 200 of every 100,000 Americans.  Then President Nixon declared war on drugs.  Now we lock up more of our people than any other country — more even than the authoritarian regimes in Russia and China.  A war on drugs — on people, that is — is unworthy of a country that claims to be free.

Why black people don't trust the police:  I don't trust cops and I don't know many black people who do.  I respect them.  I sympathize with them.  I am appreciative of the work they do.  But when you've been pulled over for no good reason as many times as I have; when you've been in handcuffs for no good reason as many times as I have; when you run out to buy some allergy medication and upon returning home, find yourself surrounded by four squad cars with flashing lights and all you can think about is how not to get shot, you learn not to trust cops.

IRS May Draft Cops to Catch Tax Cheats, Official Tells Senate.  One police officer's responded, "We're prevented from going after illegal alien lawbreakers, but we're going to go after American citizens who try to keep more of their own money?"

Shredding the Constitution.  In Dearborn, Michigan, in June, 2010, a pastor and two lay Christians were arrested outside an Arab festival, under the pretense that they were blocking a tent entrance, creating a public danger, and "screaming into a crowd."  Video footage of the event clearly showed that this was untrue.  Last year, an assistant evangelical pastor from a Southern California church and two church members were arrested by the California Highway Patrol for reading the Bible outside a DMV office to those waiting in line almost an hour before opening time.  Although the Christians were 50 feet away from the entrance, they were cited for "impeding an open business."

Radioactive man? Milford resident pulled over by state police.  Mike Apatow was minding his own business Wednesday, driving to an appointment for work in Washington Depot when a state police car appeared suddenly and signaled for the Milford resident to pull over. [...] "I asked the officer 'What seems to be the problem?'" Apatow said.  "He said 'You've been flagged as a radioactive car.'"  Apatow's doctor had given him a document attesting that he'd had a medical procedure involving a small amount of radioactive material that he handed to the officer.  A Stratford firefighter, Apatow was more curious than annoyed by the incident.  "I had no idea the police even had devices like that," he said.

The Editor says...
It is safe to assume that the officer took a good look at Mr. Apatow's car while it was pulled over, looking for expired stickers, guns, drugs, or cash.





No offense is too petty to overlook

The Editor says...
There are parts of any big city where the streets are crawling with truly awful people who have served time in prison, or should be in prison, yet the cops seem to spend most of their time making themselves visible to non-violent citizens who are just trying to get from one place to another.  Law and order is a wonderful thing, but hair-splitting legalism is not.

Jail Time for Feeding The Homeless?  Fort Lauderdale, Florida Police charged two pastors and a 90-year-old man, for feeding the homeless in public.  The charges were made on Sunday [11/2/2014], following a new ordinance effectively banning feeding the homeless in public that took effect Friday.

Is this the worst person in America?  Somewhere out there, possibly in Rockaway, N.J., is a person who enjoys making senior citizens suffer.  This hater of the aged decided to rain on their parade by reporting their 10-cent bingo game to the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs this past May, according to the Asbury Park Press.  But don't place all the blame on that Grinch.  For instead of laughing off the complaint — because come on, it's 10-cent bingo at a senior home — New Jersey's Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission made the decision to drop the hammer.

Nanny-State Mindset Leads to Police Brutality.  In Florida recently, police pulled up to a young boy playing in the park and asked where his mother lived.  According to a report on WPTV, the mom was then arrested for "allowing her son to go to the park alone."  Her son had a cellphone, and she would check in with him along the way.  The mom believes "he's old enough, but Port St. Lucie Police disagree."  There is a tendency to dismiss stories such as this as a silly mistake by an overzealous police officer, but sadly it's part of a larger problem.

Md. police investigate 'No undocumented Democrats' graffiti as hate crime.  Maryland state police are investigating as a hate crime graffiti that protested illegal immigration on the wall of a former Army Reserve Center that was mulled for use as a shelter for unaccompanied alien children.  "No illeagles [sic] here.  No undocumented Democrats," the graffiti said in capital letters, according to the Carroll County Times.  Lt. Patrick McCrory, commander of the state police Westminster barracks, said the message likely went up Saturday night or early Sunday [7/13/2014].  He said he considered the message to be a hate crime.  "This is definitely a racial, religious, ethnic incident," he told the paper.

The Black Market For Dinosaurs.  On the morning of October 17, 2012, a cadre of federal agents and sheriff's deputies in Gainesville, Florida, went to the home of a suspected fossil smuggler named Eric Prokopi and arrested him.  As I reported in The New Yorker in January, 2013, the case against Prokopi was unusual and aggressive:  it included several counts of felonious smuggling, and characterizations of the defendant as a "one-man black market."  Two months after his arrest, Prokopi pleaded guilty to smuggling the bones of a Tarbosaurus bataar, a Tyrannosaurus rex cousin that lived seventy million years ago in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia, which prohibits the commercialization of natural history.

Texas man faces possible life sentence for selling pot brownies.  A couple of weeks ago, I put up a post about the absurd method in which the drug laws allow law enforcement officials to determine the quantity of an illicit drug for which a suspect can be charged.  The laws aren't written to punish offenders for the amount of a given drug they have made available to the public (or, put another way, for the amount of harm they have done).  They're written to inflict the maximum possible amount of punishment.

Diabetic pastor sues after being arrested, denied food and water for holding pro-life sign.  On March 30, 2011, Pastor Stephen Joiner was driving through the streets of Columbus, Mississippi, when he saw dozens of members of Pro-Life Mississippi peacefully holding signs supporting the unborn child's right to life.  He pulled over and learned they were trying to build support for the state's Personhood Amendment, which failed to pass the following November.  Joiner, the pastor of the city's Church of the Nazarene, supported the cause, so he picked up a sign and stood alongside them. [...] Joiner says that Police Captain Frederick Shelton told him to move, because he was blocking traffic, although he was several feet from the road.

Young children could face bullying charges in city.  The Carson City Council gave preliminary approval this week to an ordinance that would target anyone from kindergarten to age 25 who makes another person feel "terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested" with no legitimate purpose.

ACLU backs Nebraska man arrested for handing out religious fliers.  The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska said Wednesday [4/16/2014] that Larry Ball was on a public sidewalk and exercising his First Amendment rights when he handed out the fliers.

Rappers selling CDs in Times Square file joint suits against city.  Eight rappers say the NYPD treats them differently than other vendors and argues that their music sales are protected free speech.  The most common charges are for disorderly conduct and aggressive begging, but the rappers say the allegations are phony and their cases are ultimately dismissed.

Austin Police Arrest Jogger Because She Couldn't Hear Them.  Austin, Texas, is supposed to be weird.  It is not supposed to be a police state. [...] Jaywalking is a class c misdemeanor, not typically an offense that leads to arrest.  Police say the jogger was arrested for failure to identify herself and for a traffic signal violation.  The arrest is under investigation.  Municipalities often use traffic violation citations to generate revenue.

Boy, 13, arrested for allegedly throwing snowball at cop.  A 13-year-old boy arrested for allegedly hitting a Chicago police officer with a snowball says he was wrongly picked out of a crowd of kids walking home from school.  And besides, he adds, the snowball didn't even hit the cop.  "It made me mad," said the eighth-grader, who is facing a felony charge of battery to a police officer.

Drivers ticketed for failing to clear snow off their vehicles under new 'ice missile' law.  A new law requiring motorists to remove snow and ice from their vehicles has become a new source of revenue for Connecticut.  State police are aggressively ticketing drivers who ignore the so-called 'ice missile' law.  Since the law took effect Jan. 1, state police have issued at least 230 tickets to truckers and motorists who were driving snow-covered vehicles.  At $120 per summons that amounts to $27,600 in tickets in a month and a half.  The fine is $75, plus $45 in various surcharges.

When you ask the police for help, the first thing they investigate is YOU.
South Carolina woman jailed after failing to return movie rented nine years ago.  A South Carolina scofflaw movie renter spent a night in jail this week after police busted her for failing to return a Jennifer Lopez movie she rented nine years ago.  WHNS reports the scenario unfolded after Kayla Michelle Finley went to the Pickens County Jail in the northwestern tip of the state Thursday [2/13/2014] to report an unspecified crime — but instead got charged with one, herself.

Woman jailed for not returning 2005 video rental.  Kayla Michelle Finley may be wishing that services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime had been around a little earlier.  The South Carolina woman spent a night in jail last week for failing to return a video she rented — in 2005.  It was a VHS tape.  Of a Jennifer Lopez movie.  Finley, 27, was arrested Thursday in Pickens County, South Carolina, on a misdemeanor charge of failure to return the video, according to CNN affiliate WYFF-TV.

Man discovers it is illegal to wash his car in his own driveway.  A couple of friends cleaning up a car they had just purchased were threatened by the police for car washing in their own driveway.  The reach of the nanny state truly has no bounds when it comes to dictating what people must do on their own private property.

Electric car owner charged with stealing 5 cents worth of juice.  One Saturday in November, Kaveh Kamooneh drove his Nissan Leaf to Chamblee Middle School, where his 11-year-old son was playing tennis.  Kamooneh had taken the liberty of charging the electric car with an exterior outlet at the school.  Within minutes of plugging in the car, he says a Chamblee police officer appeared.  "He said that he was going to charge me with theft by taking because I was taking power, electricity from the school," Kamooneh said.  Kamooneh says he had charged his car for 20 minutes, drawing about a nickel's worth of juice.

City Shuts Down 11-Year-Old Selling Mistletoe to Fund Braces.  An 11-year-old Oregon girl who wanted to help her father pay for her braces by selling mistletoe over the holidays, found herself embroiled in city bureaucracy.  On Saturday, Madison Root went to the downtown market to sell fresh mistletoe she cut and wrapped herself from her uncle's farm in Oregon.  She told KATU News, "I felt like I could help my dad with the money."  However, a private security guard hired by Portland Saturday Market blocked her path to a straighter smile by telling her to stop selling the mistletoe, citing city rules that ban conducting business or soliciting at a park without proper approval and documentation.

Orders for mistletoe pour in after Oregon girl told she can't sell them, but can beg for money at city park.  It appears the Oregon girl who was told she could not sell mistletoe in a public park, but could beg for money to pay for her braces, will be able to pay for dental work... and then some.  Hundreds of mistletoe orders have poured in after reports of 11-year-old Madison Root being told by a security guard that she cannot sell the item at a public park, but she could, if she wanted to, beg for money, KATU.com reported.

Georgia restaurant told to remove flags honoring USA, troops.  Three months ago, Miller put up the American flag, the Georgia state flag and banners for every branch of the military.  On Friday [11/15/2013], he was told they have to come down.  "I'm just floored," said Miller.  "And I called the guy and asked what they're for.  And he said I'm in violation with my flags flying above my restaurant."

Christianity Under Attack in America.  [Scroll down]  This prohibition against Christian religious practice is not limited to the military.  Police throughout the land also frequently come down hard against Christians.  In 2010, a group of students from the Arizona-based Wickenburg Christian Academy were ordered by a police officer to cease their quiet prayers on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.  The officer cited a statute that prohibits demonstrations on the steps, but no official policy bars prayer at that location.

Woman Forced To Strip And Serve Jail Time For Overdue Ticket.  A North Texas woman was handcuffed, stripped down and booked into jail — all because of an overdue traffic ticket.  It was just a ticket.  Sarah Boaz was cited in August after an officer said she ran a stop sign.

D.C. businessman faces two years in jail for unregistered ammunition, brass casing.  Mark Witaschek, a successful financial adviser with no criminal record, is facing two years in prison for possession of unregistered ammunition after D.C. police raided his house looking for guns.  Mr. Witaschek has never had a firearm in the city, but he is being prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  The trial starts on Nov. 4.  The police banged on the front door of Mr. Witaschek's Georgetown home at 8:20 p.m. on July 7, 2012, to execute a search warrant for "firearms and ammunition ... gun cleaning equipment, holsters, bullet holders and ammunition receipts."

The Editor says...
When the cops start raiding houses looking for gun cleaning equipment, holsters and receipts, we are living in East Germany.

Viva the shutdown! Like Atlas Shrugged in reverse.  You or I might think one of the main points of sequestering a wilderness zone like Yellowstone Park would be so visitors could get more intimate with nature by skinny-dipping in a cooling stream, perhaps under the influence of alcoholic beverages.  But the park rules say no — and there's a whole army of uniformed government employees just itching to enforce them.  Is this really what government is for?  Really?

Park Service threatens to arrest WWII vets who try to visit their memorial.  So, you've heard the story today about the group of World War II veterans who had to break through barriers deliberately placed there by the Obama administration as part of its game-playing over the Democrat-forced government shutdown.  It's bad enough that they were deliberately inconveniencing 80-90 year old men who honorably served their country.  I thought that was pretty low.  And I was right, but I didn't think they could sink any lower.  Well, they did.

CO Rescue Pilot Issued Parking Ticket for His Helicopter.  So ridiculous it's funny... and sadly idiotic.

You step out of line, the man comes and takes you away.
Seattle cops to don opponents' jerseys.  The Seahawks announced Wednesday that undercover law-enforcement officers will wear opposing team jerseys at games this season in an effort to quickly detect fans exhibiting unruly and inconsiderate behavior.

This was either an act of nit-picking legalism or political activism:
Hidden camera catches culprit taking man's Second Amendment sign.  A New York man, frustrated when his pro-Second Amendment sign kept disappearing, was surprised when the hidden camera he set up revealed the culprit to be a local cop.  Jon Gibson, of rural Lake Lincolndale, about 50 miles north of New York City, told FoxNews.com he set up a hunting field camera near the sign, which reads "Protect the Second Amendment," and features the silhouette of an assault rifle, after two mysteriously vanished.  A third sign disappeared before the camera finally captured the sign stealer — a police officer from the nearby Somers Police Department.

Caught On Camera: Cop Kicks, Confiscates Pro-2nd Amendment Sign.  A police officer from Somers Police Department in New York has been caught kicking and then taking a pro-Second Amendment sign from the yard of Jon Gibson of Lake Lincolndale, New York.  Gibson's sign said, "Protect the Second Amendment," with a silhouette of an AR-15 across the top.

Every action requires a permit.
Police Stop Effort to Feed the Homeless.  In Raleigh, North Carolina the non-profit religious group, Love Wins Ministries, makes an effort to feed and help the homeless every Saturday and Sunday.  But this weekend was different.  The group was attempting to hand out coffee and sausage biscuits when the police officers arrived.

State Seizes Two-Year-Old Child From Parents Because They Smoked Pot, Child Dies in Foster Care.  Statistics on child abuse in foster care are, perhaps unsurprisingly, hard to come by, but children in foster care may be up to 10 times more likely to die than children in the care of their own parents; one estimate places the number of children who die in foster care in the US every year at about 1540.

Auburn cop fired for blowing the whistle on ticket, arrest quotas.  Do police officers write tickets because of quotas?  Most law-enforcement agencies will deny that any exist, but the police department in the college town of Auburn, Alabama will find that difficult.  One of their officers secretly recorded briefings in which quotas were explicitly demanded for traffic citations, arrests, and other "contacts," which if enforced would have meant nearly 1.5 police contacts per resident each year.

Man charged with Brandishing for putting gun away.  [Scroll down]  I grew up in a legal family, married a judge's daughter and have known dozens of judges both good and bad over the years.  I have never however, seen a judge behave as badly as the one in this case.  He simply did not want to hear any of the defense.

Free Justin Carter Now.  In the state of Texas, a 19-year-old man named Justin Carter sits in prison, ruthlessly stripped of his freedom for making an offensive joke. [...] For this he was arrested by Austin police, charged with making a "terroristic threat," and thrown into prison. He may languish there until the start of the next decade. [...] He's been incarcerated since March without trial.

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to Exercise Their 1st Amendment Rights.  This last winter a Texas teenager, Justin Carter, made a very stupid and tasteless mistake. [...] Carter has been jailed on (an unaffordable) $500,000 bail since the late winter/early spring (accounts vary), through the spring and now well into the summer.  According to his parents (who claim that he is a danger to no one at all), he has been assaulted numerous times and is now in solitary confinement on suicide watch, stripped naked in a dimly lit cell with a hole in the ground.

Indiana man faces possible jail time for nursing bald eagle back to health.  This reminds me of a 2011 story in which an 11-year-old Virginia girl rescued a woodpecker from the family cat only to be approached by a Fish & Wildlife agent flanked by an armed state trooper informing them of a court date and a $500 fee.

When everything is a crime, government data mining matters.  Prosecutors have become kings, with the ability to find a crime committed by just about anyone.  Data mining and access to internet activity can help find terrorists, but it also can be used to find crimes which were not previously known to have been committed by political opponents.  A "find the target first, then find the crime" political approach requires access to information of an unprecedented level.  Which is exactly what is happening.

Philly Activists Arrested and Cuffed at Independence Hall for Handing Out Fliers.  Mark Passio wrote about his experience last Saturday [5/25/2013].

Yep, it's those last two bullets that'll really do some damage.
NY Man Arrested for Having Nine Bullets Instead of Seven Loaded in Gun.  Gregory D. Jean of New York was pulled over Sunday evening because the lamp over his license plate was not working.  He ended up arrested for violating the new NY SAFE Act.  The troopers saw Jean's .40 caliber pistol in the front seat and asked to inspect it.  The weapon is legally registered and possessed, but it contained nine bullets instead of the new legal amount of seven.

DA Refuses to Prosecute Man Arrested For Having Two Extra Bullets.  Gregory Dean Jr. was recently arrested — pulled over when authorities noticed a license plate lamp was out on his vehicle.  The lamp wasn't the problem, however.  Troopers noticed a handgun in the vehicle.  The weapon was legally registered to Dean, but upon further inspection, the gun was noted to have 9 rounds as opposed to 7 — a violation of the SAFE Act.  He was charged with 'Unlawful possession of certain ammunition feeding devices', and faced a possible 6 months in jail.  For two extra bullets.

Dad in New York Arrested For Letting His Daughter Play With Plastic Airsoft Gun in Park.  A father in New York City has been arrested on a host of charges after letting his daughter play with an Airsoft Gun in a park.  The father let the child fire a couple of plastic BBs at a tree and then carry the "gun" around the park.  The father was arraigned Thursday on charges including reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child and violating city weapons laws.  The man was also charged with resisting arrest after he objected to the arrest.

Mother of 3-Year-Old Fined $2,500 for Toddler's "Public Urination".  A Piedmont [Oklahoma] police officer was fired for writing an excessively hefty fine for her three-year-old's "public urination" on the family's property.

The $4,000 Trash Can.  [Martha] Boneta, a Fauquier County farmer, hosted a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls -- an occasion for which she lacked the proper "events permit."  For this, the county slammed her with a $5,000 fine.  She also got in hot water for selling items, such as yarn and birdhouses, that she had not made herself.

The Mayor of East St. Louis is the New Baby Sitter.  A new restriction passed by Mayor Alvin Parks of East St. Louis has enacted a new curfew and dress code for the city's youth.  Anyone under 18 that is caught out of class during school hours, outside after 10pm or out of the house or school anytime without a parent or guardian, they will be arrested.  Additionally, the mayor decided that youth should also be prohibited from wearing any blue or red.

'Overcriminalization' Making Us a Nation of Felons?  Critics argue there are so many new laws, rules, and regulations that it's all too easy to violate one of these laws and never know you did it.  Take, for example, Texas retiree George Norris and his wife, Kathy:  federal agents raided and ransacked their Texas home in 2003.  Originally, the indictment against them was sealed, so they weren't even told why they were targeted at first. [...] George wound up serving nearly two years in federal prison alongside killers, rapists, and other hardened criminals.  What was his crime?  A paperwork violation related to flowers in his backyard nursery:  buying, importing, and selling perfectly legal orchids.

The Environmentalists' Police and Welfare States.  The story about the abuses by Fauquier County against Martha Boneta, the farmer, of pitchfork protest fame, just gets creepier and creepier.

Duncan, South Carolina Police Ticket Parents for Cheering During High School Graduation.  [In Duncan, South Carolina,] it's against the law to cheer for your kid during the graduation ceremonies.  In the past, parents and relatives who cheered were escorted by cops from the stadiums.  But Duncan residents went civil disobedience in response, standing to cheer and then simply leaving the stadium on their own. [...] This year, the cops busted 13 parents for nefarious cheering.

The Nanny State Meets the Quota Cops.  Here's the kind of story that makes me fear for the future of the nation.  It is a disturbing example of both government stupidity and soft tyranny.

Pitchfork Protest Farmer Confronts Government Corruption and RetributionAmerican Thinker was the first to report about how Fauquier County, Virginia attempted to fine farmer Martha Boneta for hosting a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls without a special events permit.

I'll bet they wouldn't have stopped a Muslim from doing the same thing.
City tells woman she can't pass out free water in 112-degree heat.  The city of Phoenix is facing a possible lawsuit after a woman claimed a city worker told her she could not pass out free water in the Arizona heat without a permit.  Dana Crow-Smith tells ABC 15 she was passing out water bottles in the 112-degree heat along with others in an attempt to share their Christian beliefs with people attending a festival downtown last month, when a city worker ordered them to stop.  She said the worker told the group they would be cited if they continued passing out the water because they did not have a permit.

Connecticut town threatens to take overgrown pet bunny from girl, 7.  A 7-year-old Connecticut girl will lose her 20-pound pet rabbit if North Haven officials get their way.  Zoning Enforcement Officer Arthur Hausman issued a cease-and-desist order to the Lidsky family two weeks ago, informing them that they were violating town zoning regulations because their property was smaller than the 2 acres required to keep rabbits and other types of livestock.

The Editor says...
The city government thinks a rabbit needs two acres of land?  Really?  Who has two acres or more in Connecticut?

Oregon Man Sentenced to 30 Days in Jail — for Collecting Rainwater on His Property.  Gary Harrington of Eagle Point, Oregon, says he plans to appeal his conviction in Jackson County Circuit Court on nine misdemeanor charges under a 1925 law for having what state water managers called "three illegal reservoirs" on his property — and for filling the reservoirs with rainwater and snow runoff.

NJ dad saves 5-year-old, car plunges over cliff, dad gets traffic tickets.  Some stories so teem with action that they create a nightmare for headline writers.  This one not only teems with action but has a galling anticlimax.

Business Owner Threatened with Jail Time for Flying American Flag.  A Georgia man was slapped with a ticket and threatened with jail time after he refused to remove an American flag that's been flying outside his business for more than thirty years.  An Albany code enforcement officer alleged that Tom Gieryic's flag was in violation of the city's sign ordinance.  The standard size American flag was posted on a pole outside Gieryic's automotive repair shop.

Choc and Awe.  I am looking this bright Easter morn at a Department of Homeland Security "Custody Receipt for Seized Property and Evidence".  Late last night, crossing the Quebec/Vermont border, my children had two boxes of "Kinder Eggs" ("Est. Dom. Value $7.50?) confiscated by Customs & Border Protection.  Don't worry, it's for their own safety.

Woman cuffed for not holding escalator handrail.  Anyone who has ridden an escalator and bothered to pay attention has seen — and likely ignored — little signs suggesting riders hold the grimy handrail.  In Montreal's subway system, the friendly advice seems to have taken on the force of law, backed by a $100 fine.  Bela Kosoian, a 38-year-old mother of two, says when she didn't hold the handrail Wednesday [5/13/2009] she was cuffed, dragged into a small holding cell and fined.

D.C. Cops Throw Drivers in Jail for Expired Tags.  In a city that hosts its fair share of murders and terror plots, Washington, D.C., police are cracking down on another threat to the nation's capital — expired vehicle registrations.  To the frustration of forgetful drivers, Metropolitan Police Department officers are throwing people in jail for letting their tag renewals lapse.

Vertical tag law costs unsuspecting biker.  Antonio Gonzales rode his customized Harley-Davidson from New Mexico to Bike Week, and then his wallet got a painful welcome from a Flagler Beach police officer — a $1,151 citation for having his bike's license plate mounted vertically on a saddle bag.  "I rode all the way out here and all I have is 700 bucks," Gonzales said.  "Then I get a $1,151 ticket."  Many bikers who ride customized motorcycles mount their plates vertically.

Girl, 10, Arrested for Using Knife to Cut Food at School.  A 10-year-old Florida girl faces felony weapons charges after bringing a small steak knife to school to cut up her lunch, according to a report on MyFOXOrlando.com.  School officials say the Ocala 5th grader had brought a piece of steak for her lunch, and a four and a half inch steak knife with which to cut it.  According to the report, a couple of teachers took the utensil and called authorities, who arrested the girl and took her to the county's juvenile assessment center.

Many more stories like this are on the Zero Tolerance Page.

Topeka Cracks Down On Unlicensed Bicycles.  Topeka police are warning local bicycle owners they could face up to $76 in fines and court costs if they're caught pedaling unlicensed bikes.  Already this year 27 cyclists have received citations that include a $10 fine plus $66 court costs for riding unlicensed bikes.

Police in Laramie, Wyo., Cite Teen Girls Who Threw French Fries for 'Hurling Missiles'.  Three 13-year-old girls accused of throwing french fries during lunchtime at their school were cited for "hurling missiles," an adult infraction covered by city ordinances.

Woman Arrested for Dancing at the Jefferson Memorial.  At 11:59, just four minutes after the event's start, U.S. Park Police had detained and were handcuffing the aforementioned "Jefferson 1" … ostensibly for unauthorized dancing.  Or, as former Bureaucrash chief Jason Talley puts it, "One minute I'm taking video of people celebrating the freedoms etched in the walls surrounding us, the next we see armed agents of the state putting chains on a friend of ours."

Woman cuffed, booked for not paying library fines.  A Wisconsin woman has been arrested and booked for failing to pay her library fines.  Twenty-year-old Heidi Dalibor told the News Graphic in Cedarburg that she ignored the library's calls and letters as well as a notice to appear in court.  Still, she was surprised when officers with a warrant knocked on her door, cuffed her and took her to the police station to be fingerprinted and photographed.

The U.S. police state:  Attorney Russ Stein details his arrest for "idling."  You have to read it to believe it.

Subway Rider Busted for Selling a Token.  Transit police handcuffed and cited a man who sold a $1.75 subway token to another rider who was having trouble with a token vending machine.  Transit authority spokeswoman Jocelyn Baker … acknowledged that [Donald] Pirone sold the token at face value and did not make a profit.  But the law is the law, she said.

A similar but different case:
Just for a nickel token.  Because Mrs. Romanski picked up an abandoned token, she was surrounded, arrested and led to a security office.  There the guards stole her orphaned nickel.  They refused to let her use a restroom by herself.  They prevented her from having lunch with her friends.  Finally they threw her out of the casino.

Police Arrest NH Man For Giving a Manicure Without a License.  A self-proclaimed manicurist decided to open for business in Concord [NH] on Monday [5/9/2005] without the state's approval, attacking state licensing laws with a nail file.  Michael Fisher, 23, of Newmarket, N.H., was arrested and charged with violating the state's license law.  He said he organized the protest to call attention to what he said are needless obstacles facing small businesses in the state. … The manicure performed without a license was undertaken right outside the state Board of Barbering, Cosmetology and Esthetics office.

HPD still issuing tickets for license plate borders.  "It was never the intention of the Legislature for people to be receiving traffic citations for having license brackets," said state Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, who sponsored the bill.  "It's clearly out of bounds for them to be issuing tickets now." ... The [Houston police] department's most prolific officer, Matthew Davis, issued at least 1,216 license bracket tickets since January.  He wrote 30 in one day in February and has issued more than 200 since [Governor] Perry signed Williams' bill.

$185 fine for dropping sunflower seed.  It could be called a case for the birds, but an Oklahoma woman is crying fowl over a $185 fine for dropping a sunflower seed in public.

Boston transit police begin passenger ID stops.  Although officials would release few details about the initiative, the identity checks will mark the first time local rail and subway passengers will be asked to produce identification and be questioned about their activities.

It's illegal to recite the Gettysburg Address on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  It is illegal to deliver the Gettysburg Address on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial without permission from the U.S. National Park Service.  On President's Day — standing where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream Speech" — Phillip Howell, 25, recited Lincoln's famous address and was quickly stopped by a Park Police officer.  He told Howell that he could not give speeches on the steps of the memorial without a permit.

Woman Ticketed for Sitting on a Playground Bench with No Kids.  The Rivington Playground on Manhattan's East Side has a small sign at the entrance that says adults are prohibited unless they are accompanied by a child. … [The ticket] could bring a one thousand dollar fine and 90 days in jail.

What ever happened to respecting our elders?  An 82-year-old California woman says an officer cited her for taking too long to cross an intersection.  Mayvis Coyle insists when she entered the crosswalk the signal was green, but it turned red before she reached the other side where an officer was waiting with a $114 ticket.  "He treated me like a six year old, like I don't know what I'm doing," Coyle said.

Woman arrested over 96 cents.  A Mansfield, Ohio, woman was arrested and jailed for failure to file a 2001 city income tax bill totaling 96 cents … [after] she explained the situation to a city employee who told her not to bother with the trifling amount.

Handicap permit should let a man sit.  Arthur doesn't want me to tell you his last name because he'd rather not get on the bad side of the police. … His wife walks into the store to shop.  Arthur likes to wait in the car.  "I can't follow her around for an hour and a half," he tells me.  They've been doing it this way the past year and a half … This worked out fine until the other day when a community service officer working for the Cudahy Police Department leaned in Arthur's open window and told him it was not legal for him to sit in the car and wait like that.

In a police state, everyone is a criminal suspect.
Guards make woman remove bra that triggered metal detector at Idaho courthouse.  Security guards refused to allow a woman into a federal courthouse in Idaho until she removed a bra that triggered a metal detector.  Lori Plato says she and her husband, Owen Plato, were stunned when U-S Marshals Service employees asked her to remove her bra after the underwire supports set off the alarm.

Criminal barbering?  Raids at Orange County shops lead to arrests.  As many as 14 armed Orange County deputies, including narcotics agents, stormed Strictly Skillz barbershop during business hours on a Saturday in August, handcuffing barbers in front of customers during a busy back-to-school weekend. ... In "sweeps" on Aug. 21 and Sept. 17 targeting at least nine shops, deputies arrested 37 people — the majority charged with "barbering without a license," a misdemeanor that state records show only three other people have been jailed in Florida in the past 10 years.

Pennsylvania Woman Cited for Cursing at Toilet.  A Scranton woman who allegedly shouted profanities at her overflowing toilet within earshot of a neighbor was cited for disorderly conduct, authorities said.  Dawn Herb could face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300.

No suspect is too young.
Texas school police ticketing students as young as six.  School police officers in Texas are doling out more tickets to children as young as 6, who under past disciplinary practices would have been sent to the principal's office instead, according to a report by a Texas nonprofit.

No suspect is too old.
Failure to Water.  In another example of overcriminalization, police in Orem, Utah decided to enforce an ordinance against neglected yards by arresting Betty Perry, a grandmother and widow who was seriously negligent in watering her lawn.  The 70-year old was handcuffed, arrested, and taken to jail.

Police target careless drivers in crosswalk sting.  Coos Bay Police were kept busy Tuesday [2/9/2010] targeting drivers who didn't comply with crosswalk safety laws during a pedestrian safety operation in Empire.  For three hours Tuesday morning, officers were staked out at the intersection of Cammann Street and Newmark Avenue, while a non-uniformed decoy pedestrian used the crosswalk.

Lawsuit: Student arrested for burping.  A 13-year-old was handcuffed and hauled off to a juvenile detention for burping in class, according to a civil rights lawsuit filed against an Albuquerque public school principal, a teacher and a city police officer.

DC Resident Fined Thousands For Not Recycling Cat Litter.  Dupont Circle resident Patricia White says she has been fined eight times for throwing homemade cat litter in her trash.  The fines total $2,000.  White says she shreds old newspaper and junk mail to use as cat litter.  She believes she is helping the environment by reusing the paper and avoiding cat litter you will find in stores.  After being fined several times, White says she called the Department of Public Works inspector who issued the tickets.  According to White, the inspector admitted to digging through trash looking for violations.

Milledgeville Police Handcuff 6-Year-Old Girl for Misbehaving at School.  Milledgeville's acting police chief, Dray Swicord, said Tuesday [4/17/2012] that he stands by an officer's decision to handcuff an elementary school student for safety Friday after she allegedly threw a tantrum.  Swicord said the arresting officer is not under investigation for his actions.




Cops believe their computer terminals, no matter what they say

Peninsula woman battles DMV over alleged false conviction.  Maryann Raab says she hasn't been to Florida since 1977, yet the DMV claims it has proof she was convicted of DUI there in 2005 and as a result suspended her driver's license last month.

Innocent Man Stuck With 100 Parking Tickets.  After two years, innocent man is still fighting parking tickets incorrectly issued because of a personalized license plate.  In the two years since San Carlos resident Nick Vautier moved to California's San Francisco Bay Area, he has received over a hundred parking tickets worth $3000.  He is not responsible for a single one of them, but several jurisdictions continue to prosecute him without ever having established any guilt.

Elderly Woman Slammed in the Slammer.  In a very sad story, 78-year-old Garland resident Betty Smith related her horrendous tale of woe to Dallas County Commissioners at their January 9th meeting.  Her story of abuse by the Dallas County judicial system and Sheriff's Department began when she was awakened by knocks on the door at 4:00 one morning.  The officer told her she was being arrested for illegally ordering a duplicate copy of her driver's license.  Never mind that Ms Smith's car had been carjacked not long ago, along with her purse and personal belongings, including her driver's license. [...] On the way to jail, the deputy told her that her record indicated that she had committed a homicide in Arizona.

Wyoming woman arrested on false federal charges.  Hope Clarke was put in handcuffs on a bench warrant for failing to put away her marshmallows and hot chocolate while staying at Yellowstone National Park last year.  Federal agents apparently blindly relied on a computer database, even though the court had a copy of the citation showing she had paid.

Proof that the minimum wage is too high:
Prisoner wrongly freed after officials get phony, typo-filled fax.  Officials mistakenly released a prisoner from a Kentucky facility after receiving a phony fax that ordered him freed, and it took them nearly two weeks to realize it.  The fax contained grammatical errors, was not typed on letterhead and was sent from a local grocery store.

Computer snafu is behind at least 50 'raids' on Brooklyn couple's home.  Blame it on a computer.  Embarrassed cops on Thursday [3/18/2010] cited a "computer glitch" as the reason police targeted the home of an elderly, law-abiding couple more than 50 times in futile hunts for bad guys.

Homeland Security sifts through internet traffic looking for "suspicious" words.
Sticks, stones and dangerous words.  [Scroll down]  The bureaucrats trying to keep the homeland secure, even at the cost of damage to the First Amendment, concede that the manual's language is vague and should be "updated."  In the hands of normal speakers of English, the lists can be harmless enough, but computers are only as smart as whoever is punching the keyboard.  That's not always very smart.  The hands of government agents are heavy on all of us.




Cops believe their polygraph machines, no matter what they say

DEA settles suit alleging government lie-detector abuses.  The Drug Enforcement Administration has agreed to pay 14 contractors $500,000 to settle a lawsuit that accuses the agency of illegally requiring them to undergo highly intrusive lie detector tests to keep their jobs as translators.  The settlement appears to be the first time that a federal government agency has settled allegations involving contractors' lie detector tests since a 1988 law banned the use of polygraph screening for most private employees, said a lawyer for the group.

Seeing threats, feds target instructors of polygraph-beating methods.  [Scroll down]  The federal government previously treated such instructors only as nuisances, partly because the polygraph-beating techniques are unproven.  Instructors have openly advertised and discussed their techniques online, in books and on national television.  As many as 30 people or businesses across the country claim in Web advertisements that they can teach someone how to beat a polygraph test, according to U.S. government estimates.

How accurate are lie-detector tests?  [Scroll down]  If polygraphs are so fallible, why use them at all?  In part because testing can intimidate people into confessing, deter bad behavior, and create an impression (however misleading) of vigilance.  In other words:  security theater.

The Truth About Lie Detectors (aka Polygraph Tests).  The accuracy (i.e., validity) of polygraph testing has long been controversial.  An underlying problem is theoretical:  There is no evidence that any pattern of physiological reactions is unique to deception.

The truth about lie detectors.  The county prosecutors offered Buzz a deal:  they would drop all charges if he agreed to take a polygraph — a lie detector test — to prove his innocence.  Convinced the whole episode was one big mistake, Buzz readily agreed.  He took two tests but both suggested he was lying about his innocence.  This, along with circumstantial evidence, sealed his 1979 conviction and he spent two-and-a-half years in prison for a murder he didn't commit.

'Elephant in the Room' Ignored by Prosecutor After Conviction of 'Beat the Polygraph' Instructor.  As someone who spent much of the past four years conducting an exhaustive investigation of the U.S. Government's use of credibility assessment technologies, including the polygraph, I didn't expect MacBride to mention the proverbial "elephant in the room" — that is, the fact so many countermeasures exist to make it possible for any individual to "beat" or pass a polygraph exam.  And he didn't.

Indiana Man Sentenced to Prison for Teaching People How to Beat Polygraph Exams.  Eight months in prison.  That was the sentence handed down to Chad Dixon today by a federal court judge in Alexandria, Va.  His crime?  Teaching people — in particular, government job applicants — how to beat polygraph exams.

The Editor says...
Sounds to me like a violation of the defendant's rights to free speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of association.  He is apparently being silenced because the government does not want the general public (jury pool) to know that it is possible to spoof a polygraph exam.

The polygraph is merely a psychological rubber hose, not a way of detecting deception.  [T]here is nothing in the polygraph procedure that can discriminate between nervousness caused by anxiety in the innocent in response to a question, and nervousness caused by fear of getting caught in a lie in the guilty.

The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.  The polygraph pens don't do a special dance when a person lies.  The polygrapher scores the test by comparing physiological responses (breathing, blood pressure, heart, and perspiration rates) to these probable-lie control questions with reactions to relevant questions such as, "Did you ever commit an act of espionage against the United States?" (commonly asked in security screening). [...] If responses to both "control" and relevant questions are about the same, the result is deemed inconclusive.

The curious story of how the lie detector came to be.  Ninety years after its invention, the polygraph still has not been accepted by the scientific, legal or political communities.  "The whole process smacks of 20th Century witchcraft," said Senator Sam Ervin, who died in 1985.  It does not help that every now and again serious criminals trick the polygraph.  In 2003, Gary Ridgway admitted he was the Green River Killer, having murdered 49 women in the Seattle area.  Ridgway had passed a lie detector test in 1987, while another man — who turned out to be innocent — failed.




Please refrain from defending your own life and property

911 dispatcher tells grandmother to 'put the gun down' during break-in.  A Florida grandmother whose home was broken into says a 911 dispatcher ordered her to put her gun down in the middle of the invasion.  NJ Logan, 80, was recovering from hip replacement surgery upstairs in her Holmes Beach home when she heard noises coming from downstairs, EAG News reported.  "I kept hearing a commotion, like there were people walking around down there," she said.  "Once I realized it wasn't my husband, you have no idea how fast you can go. ... Honestly, all I wanted was my gun."

NYC alarms with notice: 'Immediately surrender your rifle'.  New York City authorities have been sending out notices to residents who own guns that now violate new ammunition capability laws, demanding they relinquish their weapons — and even though the notifications may just be standard police procedure, the text is a shocker.  At issue:  Weapons that hold more than five rounds of ammo, The Blaze reported.

Man shoots intruder at 2am, gets charged with murder.
A man's home is his castle, except in Maryland.  US Air Force Tech Sgt. Matt Pinkerton shot an intruder in his home on September 13th just before 2 am.  That is not in question.  Yet somehow, in Maryland, where Castle Doctrine does not exist by statute but rather only by case law, Sgt. Pinkerton is being charged with 2nd degree murder.

Defenselessly 'sheltered' as anti-gun fortress is breached.  As any decent American knows, there is no feeling more powerless than to realize that a couple of mass murderers are loose in your neighborhood and you are denied the right to keep a gun to defend yourself, your family or your home.  A sickening knot tightens in your gut. [...] Then came the latest Orwellian phrase in the "homeland security" lexicon:  "Shelter in place!"  So, not only are you not allowed to defend yourself against mass murderers, you are not supposed to run from them, either.  This, my fellow countrymen, is pure insanity.

Son who locked boys who were vandalizing father-in-law's home in a closet faces jail.  A man who says he caught four boys vandalizing his father-in-law's home has been charged with child endangerment after corralling them in a closet until police arrived.

Man Charged For Stopping Youth Gang Vandalizing Family's Home.  And before you assume there is more to this story... there isn't.  Just another victory for convenient 'victims' preying on the few producers that remain in Amerika.  Get this, the four thugs are of ages 8 and 10.  They and their 'parents' should be taken out to the woodshed.  But they won't, because today's 'entitled misunderstood youth' and their [amoral] guardians are free to destroy anything that offends their parasitic reality-TV lifestyle.

Clyde man arrested after corralling vandals in a closet until police arrived.  [Scroll down]  Upon entering the house, Daniels saw a great deal of the damage downstairs and went upstairs to confront the intruder.  Jesse encountered four young boys, all with hammers.  The boys tried forcing their way out several times, Daniels corralled them into a closet awaiting police arrival.

Update:
DA says he won't prosecute upstate NY man who put 4 boys in closet after vandalism spree.  A district attorney says he won't prosecute a New York man who corralled four boys in a closet when he found them vandalizing a relative's home.

Millionaire points gun at burglar, and guess who gets arrested.  George Bardwil, who owns linen company Bardwil Home, was at home in his E. 51st Street apartment in Manhattan in January, when a man broke in.  Bardwil, 60, brandished the gun at the intruder, who then fled, and the businessman called 911.  But when he showed police footage of the incident recorded on his home security system he was arrested on suspicion of possessing an illegal gun.

The feverish de-legitimization of personal self-defense .  Three Florida high school students disarmed another student who was armed with a loaded pistol while riding home on a school bus.  The school district then promptly suspended all three students for being involved in an "incident" with a weapon.  One of the suspended students asked, "How are they going to suspend me for doing the right thing?"

Excuse Me, Your Illogic Is Showing: Orwell's Vision Emerges In California.  Emeryville, California Police Chief Ken James claims that guns are not defensive weapons.  If true, then why do police carry them?

Why I own an AR-15.  I bought an AR-15 so that I wouldn't have to ask twice for a criminal to get out of my house.

California police chief: The idea that a gun is a defensive weapon is a 'myth'.  California Police Chief Ken James insisted earlier this month that the idea of a gun as a "defensive weapon" was a "myth."  Speaking at a news conference about gun control with California lawmakers, James explained that he was concerned with the amount of weapons owned by American citizens.  "One issue that always boggles my mind is that the idea that a gun is a defensive weapon," James said.  "That is a myth.  A gun is not a defensive weapon."

Utah Resident Forced to Forfeit Gun Used to Stop Home Invasion.  In late January, 64-year old Clare Niederhauser was arrested for shooting at burglars fleeing from his property.  At a plea deal hearing, he apologized for firing the shots, agreed to pay a $700 fine, take a weapons class, and forfeit the weapon he used.  Fellow residents of Layton, UT are coming to the aid of the elderly man, who was arrested after firing a shot at a burglar's vehicle and a fleeing accomplice after they attempted to break in to his property with a crowbar.

A Gun Ban That Misfired.  The D.C. gun ban, enacted in 1976, prohibited anyone other than law-enforcement officers from carrying a firearm in the city.  Residents were even barred from keeping guns in their homes for self-defense.  Some in Washington who owned firearms before the ban were allowed to keep them as long as the weapons were disassembled or trigger-locked at all times.  According to the law, trigger locks could not be removed for self-defense even if the owner was being robbed at gunpoint.

If you're counting on the government to keep you safe, you can expect to be disappointed.
Homeland Security: In an Emergency; Grab Your Scissors.  Continuing the idea that only the government can protect you the Department of Homeland Security has released this video of options if you are in a dangerous situation.  Key in the DHS plan is to take cover and hide. [...] One has to wonder if teaching actual self defense tactics might be a better plan.  Or maybe an offer to put a baseball bat at every cubicle.

Homeland Security has advice for confronting mass murders: scissors.  Is your workplace getting shot up by a crazed gunman?  No problem — just grab a pair of scissors and fight back!  That's some of the helpful advice in a new instructional video from the Department of Homeland Security that was posted on the agency's Web site just a month after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

'Tackle crazed gunmen with scissors or just hide under your desk'.  The U.S Government has issued a controversial video telling office workers what to do should a crazed gunman storms their building.  Issued by Homeland Security, the video, called Active Shooter Situation:  Options for Consideration, tells workers to flee if it is safe or find a hiding place if trapped should a gunman storm the building.  The video even advises using scissors as a weapon to defend yourself if your are caught in the open.

Rep. Nadler: Two to Four Self-Defense Shots is Enough.  Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) applauded his state's expansion of the current gun control laws on Tuesday [1/15/2013] telling Breitbart News, "I'm glad New York passed strong legislation.  Would I have preferred stronger? — always — without knowing the details of what they did."  The passage of the new gun control laws make the New York legislation the strictest in the nation.

Chicago Police Chief: We'll Shoot Licensed Civilians With Guns.  During an interview on radio station WVON 1690 am this week Chicago's Police Chief Gary McCarthy surprised listeners when he commented on the upcoming concealed carry law that must be passed in Illinois within the next six months.  McCarthy made a scary prediction that citizens carrying legally could be shot by Chicago police.

Chicago Police Chief: We'll Shoot Licensed Gun Owners.  Under Chicago's Police Chief Gary McCarthy and the hack that hired him, Chicago has quickly become Murder City USA.  Last year by a substantial amount, more Americans died from gunfire in the Windy City than died in Afghanistan.  The gunfire is coming from the violent street gangs that infect the streets of Chicago.  Since they have failed to solve the real problem of gunfire killing people in their streets, the current administration has invented a problem their media pals can fool the dupes that vote for them into thinking they are solving.  Their invented problem is:  what to do about "dangerous" people who are licensed gun owners?

Tucson Gun Turn in — First Hand Account.  As I walked the line for the next two hours, I saw very few guns that had any value in excess of the value of the $50 gift card being offered.  Quite frankly, most of the guns were rusted, inoperable junk.  I saw only three firearms that I would value in excess $400, two S&W revolvers and a single 4" blue Colt Python.  Most of the guns worth anything were comprised of .22 rifles, and all of those were of nominal value.

Progressives and the Phony Gun Debate.  To typical Progressives, government is the very essence of life, and anyone who is not directly employed by government or who has been given police powers by the State stands in the way of the State providing life and happiness.  Lest anyone believe that denial of individual self-defense is a top agenda for Progressives, think again.  Both Canada and Great Britain essentially have outlawed individual self-defense, and should any individual use any kind of "offensive weapon" in self-defense, then that person faces extremely harsh punishments.

People are Buying Guns and Ammunition for a Reason.  Police response time to a 911 call is roughly 8 minutes, but making that call may attract the intruder's attention.  There are other sounds that are sure to get his attention as well.  For instance, there's the sound that a 12 gauge pump shotgun makes when you chamber a round, and then there's the sound of an AR 15 when you release the charging handle.  Both of those sounds will put the fear of God into anyone with any sense, and the response time of an AR 15 is 3200 feet per second.

Congratulations to Mayor Rahm Emanuel for Chicago's successful gun control policies: only 19 shot in 18 hours yesterday!  Curious how the cities that are most restrictive when it comes to law-abiding citizens possessing firearms to protect themselves and their loved ones are also the cities that are awash in violent crime.

Cops Arrest Homeowner for Crime of Self-Defense.  A man in New York recently scared off some gang members by firing a couple of warning shots into the ground.  When the cops arrived, did they congratulate the man for protecting his family and start looking for the thugs?  That's what would happen in a logical and just society, but the anti-gun mentality in New York is so pervasive that the cops actually arrested the homeowner.  Needless to say, I can't imagine this happening in Georgia or Wyoming — places where both the law and cops seem to be more rational.

The police can't protect you.  The Aurora, CO police force is a fine, highly motivated department — I know because the police association was formerly my client.  There were officers already at the theatre for the midnight showing of Batman to deal with the anticipated crowd.  Only 90 seconds elapsed between the first 911 call and officer's arrival on scene.  This is a spectacular response time.  Yet 12 people were already dead and 58 wounded.  Which is why they are called "first responders" and not "first preventers."

Gun Crazy II.  [Scroll down]  But waiting for the Man is not an option.  "When seconds count, the police are only minutes away" — in Newtown, they were twenty minutes away.  The obscene horror of mass-shooting sites is often compounded by how long the killers have to go about their deadly work in "gun-free zones" (which should be re-dubbed "free-fire zones") before being interrupted — at which point they typically kill themselves.  In the recent Oregon mall shootings, the killer decided to turn his gun on himself when he caught sight of an armed civilian, and the Connecticut monster shot himself once the "first responders" started to arrive.

Until We All Understand Police Limitations, Some Will Put Faith in Gun Control.  [Scroll down slowly]  Response times for emergencies vary enormously from place to place.  In some rural or semi-rural areas, emergency response is measured in hours.  Even in towns or cities, a five-minute response — from the moment an officer receives the radio call until he arrives in a school parking lot — would be amazingly fast.  Consider, however, that a radio call likely would not have been made until someone at the school realized what was happening and made a call, a call that will take precious seconds — even minutes — to make and to be understood.  By the time a radio signal flashes out, a shooter could easily have been shooting for five minutes or more.

Sandy Hook shooting timeline.  Authorities say the first emergency call about the shooting came in at "approximately" 9:30 a.m.  "Sandy Hook school. Caller is indicating she thinks someone is shooting in the building," a dispatcher told fire and medical personnel, according to 911 tapes.  Police and other first responders arrived on scene about 20 minutes after the first calls.  Police report that no law enforcement officers discharged their weapons at any point.

When Seconds Counted, The Police Were 20 Minutes Away.  The murder of 26 students and teachers at Sandy Hook is both a massacre and a tragedy.  The fact that the murderer met no armed resistance during the 20 minutes of his massacre is an obscenity.  The solution to this problem seems pretty simple.  The only way to stop a person with a gun is another person with a gun at the time and place of the crime — and, as former police officer Mike McDaniel writes at PJM, because of response times, that will rarely, if ever, be a member of the police.

Disarming We the People.  In America, there were no "police" forces as we understand them today until 1835, and their creation by no means negated either the citizenry's unalienable right of self-protection or the expectation that ultimate responsibility for the individual's safety fell squarely on his own shoulders.  The police are public employees, there to add to the safety of the citizenry; they are not the sole arbiters of public order.  To suggest otherwise is to misunderstand the role of government and its relationship to the individual.

Cops: Man, 80, charged after shooting burglar in his Englewood home.  Awakened by his 75-year-old wife, [80-year-old Homer] Wright confronted a 19-year-old burglar who had broken through some plywood over a bathroom window in hopes of stealing liquor, according to police.  Wright grabbed his 38.caliber pistol, loaded with four rounds, and shot the intruder in the leg.  The suspect was arrested — but so was Wright.

80-year-old bar owner who shot burglar would like his gun back.  Homer "Tank" Wright says he's happy prosecutors dropped charges filed against him after he shot a suspected burglar last week.  But the 80-year-old tavern owner in Englewood is upset they did not return the .38-caliber pistol he used to shoot the intruder in the leg.

SWAT and the Second Amendment.  In a free society, a society with a fundamental right to keep and bear arms, police officers believing they may shoot a citizen in his own home simply because he is carrying a firearm cannot be tolerated.  Officers must absolutely avoid putting citizens in situations where they might be armed, or even pointing firearms in the direction of police officers banging on or breaking down their front doors.  If such misconduct is tolerated, as in the cases of Jose Guerena and Andrew Scott, the next knock on any citizen's door may be the last they ever answer.

City official insists residents shouldn't defend themselves.
D.C.'s crime solution: Be a victim.  Washington residents are up in arms, though not armed.  With violent crime up 40 percent in the first two months of the year — including double the number of robberies at gunpoint — residents are looking for ways to protect themselves.  Elected officials and police have no solution.

Shotgun-wielding Minnesota farmer, 74, charged after chasing down thief.  A farmer who chased down a thief and held him at gunpoint until authorities arrived now faces a more serious charge than the thief himself.  Kenneth Englund, 74, was charged with second-degree assault, a felony.  The thief, who the sheriff said admitted stealing about $5 worth of gasoline from Englund's neighbour, was charged with misdemeanour theft.

Felonized for Foiling a Real Crime.  Bradford Township, Minn., doesn't have its own police force, relying instead on deputies sent from 15 miles away.  When Bradford Township Board member Kenneth Englund detected thieves stealing gasoline from his neighbor's farm, he attempted to detain the thieves using his unloaded shotgun. ... [Now] Englund faces the most serious charge from the incident.

The government goes after the victim rather than the perpetrators.
Elderly man facing serious charges for shooting at thieves.  Legal analyst Dan Recht said he believes the Jefferson County District Attorney is "seriously overcharging" a Wheat Ridge homeowner, accused of attempted first degree murder for shooting at two thieves.  82-year-old Robert Wallace said he fired two shots at two men when they tried to run him over while stealing his flatbed trailer.  Wallace now faces twelve felony counts, including four counts of attempted first degree murder, for what he described as an act of defending his property and his life.

Stolen Trailers.  Say you're 82 years old.  Say that you see two people a third of your age with criminal records stealing your trailer.  Say that you run out to stop them and they almost run you over.  You fire two shots.  The thieves are let go, and you find yourself facing life in prison.  It's not a hypothetical scenario.

Defend your family, go to jail.  A Brooklyn man who shot and wounded an intruder while defending his family will spend three days in Rikers Island, the same jail housing the burglar who terrorized his home, because he owns an unregistered gun.

One law for us, another for you.  The California state Senate voted 28-8 Wednesday [6/1/2011] to exempt itself from the pointless gun-control laws that apply to the rest of the populace.  Legislators apparently think they alone are worthy to pack heat on the streets for personal protection, and the masses ought to wait until the police arrive.

Thanks to Otis McDonald and the Supremes.  The fact is that most crimes cannot be deterred because the bad guys don't generally mug people in front of the officer on patrol.  Since the police can't be everywhere, people need a way to protect themselves.

State "Emergency Powers" vs. The Right to Arms.  After Hurricane Katrina, many New Orleans residents legally armed themselves to protect their lives and property from civil disorder.  With no way to call for help, and police unable to respond, honest citizens were able to defend themselves and their neighbors against looters, arsonists and other criminals.  However, just when these people needed guns the most, New Orleans's Police Superintendent ordered the confiscation of firearms, allegedly under a state emergency powers law.  "No one will be able to be armed," he said.  "Guns will be taken.  Only law enforcement will be allowed to have guns."

Why do civilians need assault weapons?  One self-defense situation that comes to mind is the L.A. riots.  Who can forget the nightly news's live footage of thugs hurling rocks at passing cars, buildings on fire, and looters smashing storefront windows?  Then there was the savage beating of truck driver Reginald Denny.  What was stunningly absent from the video footage?  There were no police or fire personnel.  According to the Los Angeles Times, police were ordered to stay out of the area for three hours.  Numerous 911 calls for assault, murder, and fire-bombings went unanswered. [...] When there's no law and order — only chaos — that's when civilians need assault weapons.

Dial 911 and Die.  Do the police owe a duty to protect you from criminal attack?  In most of the United States, the answer is "no."  In fact, in most cases the police do not even have to respond to your emergency 911 call.  Don't believe it?  Read the true stories from all across America about citizens who depended solely upon their telephone and police response for emergency help against a violent criminal.  Not only did those crime victims not get help, the local government and police escaped legal responsibility for failing to help those victims.

DC 911 Puts Woman on Hold... During a Home Invasion.  When seconds count, the cops are minutes away or... they put you [on] hold.  A Washington DC woman was recently the victim of a home invasion and when she called the police for help, the 911 operator made her wait.  As a reminder, the average crime happens in one minute.

Sleeping 911 Operator Cost FL County $75,000.  Pasco County, Fl. owes a family $75,000 because of a 911 operator who grew frustrated with a caller and dropped the call to fall asleep while the caller's girlfriend died due to choking.  According to WTSP out of Tampa, Nancy McGhee died while choking on food because when her boyfriend called 911, the certified operator grew frustrated and passed the call along to his subordinate.

The Best Defense:  The basic premise of this book is: defensive use of firearms is not just for the military and police; it is for every citizen confronted or assaulted by violent criminals violating their personal and property rights.  This book contains numerous examples of citizens who used firearms to save their own lives, or the lives of others, before law enforcement arrived.

Cases in which guns saved lives:  There are approximately two million defensive gun uses per year by law abiding citizens, according to a recent national survey.*

The Police Have No Obligation To Protect You.  Americans have come to believe that first responders, particularly the police, not only will protect them but have a duty to protect them.  It is this belief that underpins arguments about gun control and every other nanny state social policy.  Don't worry, be happy for the benevolent state will provide for and protect you.  Leave it to the experts.  In truth, the state can't protect anyone and has no such legal obligation.  As the citizens of Alameda discovered, the state has no conscience and can decide — on the spot — which services it will provide.  A little-known yet vital Supreme Court case explains why.

Have gun, will travel.  Law-abiding gun owners can run into serious trouble when on the move.  Venturing into firearm-unfriendly states creates confusion about what individuals need to do to abide by a confusing maze of regulations.  Congress should act to prevent honest citizens from winding up behind bars because police are misinformed.

Gun Control Laws Only Control the Law Abiding.  Just like the majority of police officers who never have to fire their gun during the course of a career, most civilians will never be shot at while watching a movie, browsing in a shopping mall or attending school.  But for those few that do have the misfortune to be an unwilling participant in an ambush here are a few rules of thumb you may find useful.

Dispelling bullet myths.  Terms like "stockpile" are used to scare people, but gun owners know they can go through that amount in a couple days of training.  The handful of people who buy ammunition with the intent of committing a crime could just circumvent Mr. Lautenberg's provisions by buying 999 rounds in local stores.  As usual, the gun grabbers won't do anything to stop actual crime, but they'll hinder innocent Americans who just want to protect themselves and their families.

Milwaukee Sheriff: Calling 911, Waiting Not Best Option for Defense.  Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. has released a 30 second public announcement calling on the citizens of Milwaukee to familiarize themselves with a firearm and aid the police in defending life between the time they dial 911 and the time the police arrive.

Wisconsin sheriff urges residents to arm themselves.  A sheriff who released a radio ad urging Milwaukee-area residents to learn to handle firearms so they can defend themselves while waiting for police said Friday that law enforcement cutbacks have changed the way police can respond to crime.

Police Poll: Armed Citizens, not Gun Control, Will Lower Violent Crime.  In a poll conducted by PoliceOne, a majority of law enforcement personnel said universal background checks, "assault weapons" bans, and "high capacity" magazine bans do not make police safer and will not lower violent crime.  Armed citizens, on the other hand, do make a positive difference.

Huge cop poll: 85% say gun control won't work, 86% want civilians armed .  An authoritative new poll of more than 15,000 cops released on the eve of this week's Senate anti-gun debate shows that a sweeping majority of officers don't believe gun control will work or keep them safer, and nearly nine in 10 believe having more armed citizens would curb gun violence.

News that must be suppressed.  If our major media were not fully committed propagandists, they would report the findings of a large scale survey of law enforcement personnel on the subject of further gun legislation.  After all, they are currently following the President's strategy of distracting the public from the awful state of the economy by exploiting the victims of Newtown to push for further erosion of Second Amendment rights.  So the views of law enforcement personnel ought ot [sic] be of some interest.

Trenton man says he held off intruder for 30 minutes before police arrived.  Police officials are examining the response to a 911 call Sunday night that left a city man struggling with an intruder at his building without any officers arriving.  Dan Dodson said it was 20 or 30 minutes before two officers eventually arrived in response to his wife's calls to police telephone numbers.

911 Dispatcher Tells Woman About to Be Sexually Assaulted There Are No Cops To Help Her Due To Budget Cuts.  An Oregon woman was told by a 911 dispatcher that authorities wouldn't be able be able to help her as her ex-boyfriend broke into her place because of budget cuts.  Oregon Public Radio reports that an unidentified woman called 911 during a weekend in August 2012 while Michael Bellah was breaking into her place.  Her call was forwarded to Oregon State Police because of lay-offs at the Josephine County Sheriff's Office only allows the department to be open Monday through Friday.

Call 911, Wait two hours; Buy Gun.  On March 16, Teri Bice awoke to the sound of someone trying to break down the door of her home in New Orleans.  She did what most Americans would do:  dial 911.  One big problem, there was no answer at the other end.





Warrantless searches

Report: D.C. police need guidance to avoid unlawful home entry.  D.C. police officers need a refresher on when it's legal to enter a home without a warrant, according to a report issued Wednesday [6/12/2013] by the city's Police Complaints Board.  The board said it routinely receives complaints about officers entering homes — the complaints comprise nearly 14 percent of all those received since 2009 — and recommends the department should write a general order clarifying the exigent circumstances that would justify a warrantless search.  "Providing better training and developing a general order on warrantless entries for officers will aid them in carrying out their duties all the while protecting the rights of the public," said Philip K. Eure, director of the Office of Police Complaints.

Suit Against SAFE Act Claims it Allows 'Warrantless' Police Searches.  The registry process of New York's SAFE Act allows for warrantless police searches into gun owners' homes, a violation of the Fourth Amendment, according to plaintiffs of a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Eastern District.  The law firm representing plaintiff Gabriel Razzano argues the registry process is "essentially secret and results in a mandatory, warrantless Penal Law 400 gun removal visit from police."  "The entire purpose of the registry is a sham to permit intrusions into a person's home on consent without a warrant for a 'gun removal,'" La Reddola, Lester and Associates said in a release.  "The entire registry and database seek to justify warrantless police searches, which my client and I now believe to be the real purpose of the SAFE Act."

The SWAT Team Would Like to See Your Alcohol Permit.  How police use regulatory inspections to conduct warrantless searches.

How police use regulatory inspections to conduct warrantless searches:  In August [2010] a team of heavily armed Orange County, Florida, sheriff's deputies raided several black- and Hispanic-owned barbershops in the Orlando area.  There were more raids in September and October.  According to the Orlando Sentinel, barbers and customers were held at gunpoint, some in handcuffs, while police turned the shops upside down.  A total of nine shops were raided, and 37 people were arrested.  By all appearances, these raids were drug sweeps.  Shop owners told the Sentinel police asked where they were hiding illegal drugs and weapons.  But in the end, 34 of the 37 arrests were for "barbering without a licence," a misdemeanor for which only three people have ever served jail time in Florida.  Two arrests were for misdemeanor marijuana possession.  Just one person was arrested on felony drug and weapon charges.

Local Government Stupidity Contest.  [Scroll down]  Contestant Number Two is the Metro Police in Washington, DC, which has decided to harass random travelers by searching their bags before they board the subway.  This is akin to the TSA's mindless bureaucracy — but even worse. [...] Good intelligence by the CIA and FBI is the way to stop these crackpots, not empty security theater that makes life more difficult for law-abiding people.

Police push for warrantless searches of cell phones.  This is an important legal question that remains unresolved:  as our gadgets store more and more information about us, including our appointments, correspondence, and personal photos and videos, what rules should police investigators be required to follow?  The Obama administration and many local prosecutors' answer is that warrantless searches are perfectly constitutional during arrests.

Editor's note:
Additional information about warrantless searches can be found in the cell phones subsection.




SWAT teams

Map of Botched Paramilitary Police Raids.

Sex, Spice, and Small-Town Texas Justice: The Purple Zone Raid.  On the morning of May 7, 2014, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) launched Project Synergy Phase II, a national "day of raids" in 29 states, with the goal of taking down purveyors of synthetic drugs who funnel their proceeds to Middle Eastern terrorist organizations.  The Purple Zone, a smoke shop in Alpine, Texas, owned by 29-year-old Ilana Lipsen, was the target of one of these raids.  This particular raid was so heavy handed and its aftermath so clumsily handled by law enforcement that it drew national attention as a symbol of police militarization and the vagaries of laws pertaining to drug "analogues."  Analogues are chemicals that are not prohibited but are similar enough to controlled substances that they become illegal depending on who interprets the data.

Meet the New Serfs: You.  The New Haven SWAT team must have been pretty amped up:  It was midnight, and they were getting ready to bust down the door of a man wanted on charges involving weapons violations, robbery — and murder.  They were not sure how many people were in the house, or how they'd react.  After a volley of flash grenades that set fire to the carpet and a sofa, they moved in, guns drawn.  A minute later, they had their man zip-tied on the floor.  If only they'd double-checked the address first.

Police raid roundup.  [For example,] The grandson of a New Hampshire woman who was shot by police during a drug raid says she was reaching for her 18-month-old grandchild when the police fired at her.  The bullet ripped through her arm and lodged in her abdomen.  Two of the woman's daughters were arrested on drug charges during simultaneous raids, but neither lived with the woman.  According to the grandson, the police then tore the woman's home apart but did not find any contraband.

The militarization of America's police.  Are SWAT tactics an overreaction?  In many cases, yes.  Of the 124 SWAT raids conducted daily, only 7 percent meet the original LAPD criteria.  About 62 percent of the raids are mounted to conduct drug searches — many of them based on tips from unreliable informants.  Most are undertaken to investigate nonviolent offenses.  In Orlando in 2010, for example, heavily armed SWAT teams raided nine barbershops and arrested 34 people for "barbering without a license."  Adrenalin-fueled SWAT teams have often been accused of overexuberance:  In 2011, an Arizona paramilitary police unit riding in military vehicles — including a tank driven by special deputy and action movie star Steven Seagal — drove straight into the living room of an unarmed man suspected of staging cockfights.  Such "no-knock" operations are now commonplace — often with tragic consequences.

The nastiest political tactic this year.  The early-morning paramilitary-style raids on citizens' homes were conducted by law enforcement officers, sometimes wearing bulletproof vests and lugging battering rams, pounding on doors and issuing threats.  Spouses were separated as the police seized computers, including those of children still in pajamas.  Clothes drawers, including the children's, were ransacked, cellphones were confiscated and the citizens were told that it would be a crime to tell anyone of the raids.  Some raids were precursors of, others were parts of, the nastiest episode of this unlovely political season, an episode that has occurred in an unlikely place.  This attempted criminalization of politics to silence people occupying just one portion of the political spectrum has happened in Wisconsin, which often has conducted robust political arguments with Midwestern civility.

Massachusetts SWAT teams claim they're private corporations, immune from open records laws.  These agencies oversee police activities.  They employ cops who carry guns, wear badges, collect paychecks provided by taxpayers and have the power to detain, arrest, injure and kill.  They operate SWAT teams, which conduct raids on private residences.  And yet they say that because they've incorporated, they're immune to Massachusetts open records laws.

Barney Fife Meets Delta Force.  Historians looking back at this period in America's development will consider it to be profoundly odd that at the exact moment when violent crime hit a 50-year low, the nation's police departments began to gear up as if the country were expecting invasion — and, on occasion, to behave as if one were underway.  The ACLU reported recently that SWAT teams in the United States conduct around 45,000 raids each year, only 7 percent of which have anything whatsoever to do with the hostage situations with which those teams were assembled to contend.  Paramilitary operations, the ACLU concluded, are "happening in about 124 homes every day — or more likely every night" — and four in five of those are performed in order that authorities might "search homes, usually for drugs."  Such raids routinely involve "armored personnel carriers," "military equipment like battering rams," and "flashbang grenades."

Have police departments gone too far with SWAT units?  At the end of the 1960s, the Los Angeles Police Department decided it needed a better way to handle situations, such as confrontations with barricaded gunmen or hostage takers, that presented a high risk of deadly violence.  So it created Special Weapons and Tactics units, known thereafter as SWAT.  In the decades since, these units have spread nationwide, contributing to a startling militarization of local police agencies.  The American Civil Liberties Union now raises troubling questions about the blurred lines that come with arming and training domestic law enforcement officers as though they are an extension of the U.S. military.

The Age of Mafia Government: People Wind Up Mysteriously Dead.  The ultimate way to earn power over other people is to threaten not just their livelihood, but also their lives, and the lives of those they love.  On that note, perhaps it's appropriate to mention that the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Department of Education each have their own SWAT teams. [...] When black-helmeted men circle your home, break down your door, throw your children from their sleeping beds onto the dew-ridden lawn, and shoot you 22 times because some meathead mistook your house for a drug dealer's, it's clear government has gone from protecting you from threats to becoming a threat itself.

Nanny-State Mindset Leads to Police Brutality.  In Georgia, a SWAT team broke into a house searching for drugs and threw a flash-bang grenade inside a child's crib.  The excessive force was disgusting to begin with.  Even worse is the fact that the police had the wrong house and there were no drugs.  The child is in critical condition.  Amazingly, the local sherriff and other Georgia authorities said the officers didn't do anything wrong.  That's ludicrous.  They deployed a grenade developed for war in a private home and sent a child to the hospital fighting for his life.  Something is terribly wrong.

Baby in Coma After Police 'Grenade' Dropped in Crib During Drug Raid.  A Georgia toddler has been put into a medically induced coma after he was badly burned by a police "flash bang" grenade that landed in the crib where the boy was sleeping during a drug raid, his mother told ABC News today.  The raid occurred before dawn Wednesday night [5/28/2014] in Habersham County while the Phonesavanh family was sleeping.  "It was a big flash, a loud bang, a bunch of yelling, and my son screaming," the boy's mom, Alecia Phonesavanh, 27, told ABC News.

How Cops Became Baby Burners.  The cops were looking for the Phonesavanhs' 30-year-old nephew, Wanis Thonetheva, who a few hours before had allegedly sold methamphetamine to a confidential informant from the same doorway through which the SWAT team entered.  They had obtained a "no knock" warrant by claiming Thonetheva was apt to be armed and dangerous.  Thonetheva was not there, and police did not find any drugs, cash, or guns either.  When they arrested him later that morning at a different location, he had about an ounce of meth but no weapons.

The Editor says...
You would think there would be somebody in charge of such an operation who had made sure they had their facts straight, before charging in and using potentially lethal weapons.

Amateur SWAT is Worse Than Regular SWAT.  Here's a few fun facts about the incident that wounded "Bou-bou" Phonesavanh.
  •   The individual who threw the grenade in Georgia had no [...] flash-bang certification.  Neither did any of the SWAT members.
  •   The thrower had not had any formal training on how to use the grenade, or its capabilities.
  •   He'd never thrown one before.
  •   The individual never looked in the room, but threw the grenade blind into the toddler's crib.
  •   The SWAT members didn't just lie to the child's stressed-out mother, Alecia Phonesavanh.  They also lied to their superiors about the incident.  Many departments will countenance the former, but not many have much toleration for the latter.
  •   The SWAT team was all new and had conducted almost no individual and collective training.
  •   They claimed they "knew" there were no children in the house, but no policeman had been in the house, and even their informant had not been inside.  They actually had to move a baby stroller and walk past a minivan with four child seats to stack up on the house.  Four child seats and a stroller are what an intelligence officer might call "indicators."
  •   News stories say the target of the raid was arrested "later," but supposedly the investigation has uncovered that he was already in custody when the raid initiated.  So the raid took place to grab a guy who was already in the back of a cruiser elsewhere.

Police Militarization, Abuses of Power, and the Road to Impeachment.  Mountain Pure Water, LLC is headquartered on Interstate 30 just outside the town of Little Rock, Arkansas.  The company manufactures and distributes beverage containers, spring water, fruit drinks, and teas.  In January 2012, about 50 federal agents, led by Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) Special Agent Cynthia Roberts and IRS Special Agent Bobbi Spradlin, swooped in, guns drawn.  Without explanation they shut down plant operations, herded employees into the cafeteria, and confined them to the room for hours.  They could not so much as use the bathroom without police escort.  Cell phones were confiscated and all Internet and company phones were disabled.  Plant Manager Court Stacks was at his desk when police burst through his office door, guns drawn and pointed at him — a thoroughly unprofessional violation of basic firearms discipline in this circumstance, and the cause of numerous accidental SWAT killings.

Wisconsin prosecutors abuse the law for partisan ends.  Eric O'Keefe's refusal to be intimidated by lawless law enforcement officials produced [U.S. District Judge Rudolph T.] Randa's remarkably emphatic ruling against an especially egregious example of Democrats using government power to suppress conservatives' political speech.  Wisconsin's sordid episode began, appropriately, with a sound of tyranny — fists pounding on the doors of private citizens in pre-dawn raids.  While sheriff's deputies used floodlights to illuminate the citizens' homes, armed raiders seized documents, computers, cellphones and other devices.

The United States of SWAT?  Regardless of how people feel about Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy's standoff with the federal Bureau of Land Management over his cattle's grazing rights, a lot of Americans were surprised to see TV images of an armed-to-the-teeth paramilitary wing of the BLM deployed around Bundy's ranch.  They shouldn't have been.  Dozens of federal agencies now have Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams to further an expanding definition of their missions.  It's not controversial that the Secret Service and the Bureau of Prisons have them.  But what about the Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?  All of these have their own SWAT units and are part of a worrying trend towards the militarization of federal agencies — not to mention local police forces.

Aggressive SWAT Team in Full Body Armor Raids Home, Confiscates ONE Dud Shell Casing, Federal Charges Laid.  At 8:20 p.m. on July 7, 2012, SWAT agents showed up at Mark Witaschek's D.C. home to execute a search warrant for "firearms and ammunition ... gun cleaning equipment, holsters, bullet holders and ammunition receipts."  Witaschek's 14-year-old daughter answered the door and let about 30 officers, who were in full tactical gear, inside.  The officers immediately charged upstairs and demanded that Witaschek and his girlfriend, Bonnie Harris, surrender, face-down.  Both were handcuffed.

SWAT Mix-Up: U.S. Marshals Mistakenly Raid Home of Fla. Nurse.  A police mix-up nearly had a disastrous outcome in Sarasota, Florida, when a SWAT team burst into a woman's apartment with their guns drawn.  Louise Goldsberry, a 59-year-old nurse, was terrified when she saw a man with a gun outside her kitchen window.  She then ran to her bedroom and grabbed her gun, leading to a tense standoff.  Fortunately no one was injured during the confusion.

Florida Nurse Terrorized by US Marshals in Warrantless Raid.  It was a typical evening after work when Sarasota, Fl., resident Louise Goldsberry finished dinner and began to clean up.  The nurse, employed by the Sarasota Doctors Hospital, proceeded towards the kitchen sink to clean the dishes when she gazed out her window.  Her gaze met the eyes of a man wearing a hunting vest who was aiming a gun directly at her face.

NYPD broke down door without warrant, beat up family, stomped pet bird to death.  A Staten Island family barbecue turned into a nightmare when it was interrupted by police investigating the improper use of a parking cone to save a parking spot on the street.  What resulted was a day the family will never forget, as their home was invaded without a warrant, several family members were bludgeoned, and a NYPD officer sadistically stomped on a pet parakeet that lay helpless on the floor.

If Police Can't Identify a Masked Officer, How Can The Public?  At a local public safety fair in Austin, Infowars Nightly News reporter Jakari Jackson asks Austin police officers about the masked Austin SWAT team member who confined him to his own home. [Video clip]

Mother of three negligently shot in the head during botched drug raid.  The American Drug War claimed another casualty when a woman was shot in the head while sitting on a couch by an incompetent police officer, who fired his weapon through an exterior wall prior to raiding the home.  At about 10:30 p.m. on December 11th, a group of cops calling themselves the U.S. 23 Task Force swarmed the residence and prepared to break in and capture people for possessing drugs.

Licensed to Kill: The Growing Phenomenon of Police Shooting Unarmed Citizens.  I'm not talking about a situation so obviously fraught with risk that there is no other option but to shoot, although I am hard pressed to consider what that might be outside of the sensationalized Hollywood hostage crisis scenario.  I'm talking about the run-of-the mill encounters between police and citizens that occur daily.  In an age when police are increasingly militarized, weaponized and protected by the courts, these once-routine encounters are now inherently dangerous for any civilian unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

SWAT-Team Nation.  In 1972, America conducted only a few hundred paramilitary drug raids a year, according to Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness."  By the early nineteen-eighties, there were three thousand a year; by 2001, Alexander notes, the annual count had skyrocketed to forty thousand.  Today, even that number seems impossibly low; with one annual count of combat-style home raids hovers around eighty thousand. [...] But what's remarkable is how routine these tactics have become as a means of pursuing nonviolent suspects and low-level investigations, particularly in the war on drugs. Thousands of police departments nationwide have recently acquired stun grenades, armored tanks, counterattack vehicles, and other paramilitary equipment, much of it purchased with asset-forfeiture funds.

107-year-old Arkansas man dies in shootout with S.W.A.T..  A 107-year old Pine Bluff man died Saturday [9/7/2013] after a shootout with officers and S.W.A.T. members.  The Pine Bluff Police Dept. released the following information about the incident on Saturday evening.

Mission Creep: EPA Agents Enter Drug War.  A large-scale narcotics investigation and sentencing in Montana has revealed that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has entered the enforcement of U.S. war on drugs.  The EPA has full federal law enforcement capabilities, and their charter allows them to participate in the investigation and prosecution of "criminal conduct that threatens people's health," according to the EPA's Criminal Investigation Division (EPA CID).

Armed EPA raid in Alaska sheds light on 70 fed agencies with armed divisions.  The recent uproar over armed EPA agents descending on a tiny Alaska mining town is shedding light on the fact that 40 federal agencies — including nearly a dozen typically not associated with law enforcement — have armed divisions.  The agencies employ about 120,000 full-time officers authorized to carry guns and make arrests, according to a June 2012 Justice Department report.  Though most Americans know agents within the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Prisons carry guns, agencies such as the Library of Congress and Federal Reserve Board employing armed officers might come as a surprise.

E.P.A. is the New Gestapo.  Just recently, a task force including members of 10 state and federal law enforcement agencies descended on a gold mine in the tiny town of Chicken[,] Alaska[,] with a population of 17 last month, in what locals described as a raid.  "Imagine coming up to your diggings, only to see agents swarming over it like ants, wearing full body armor, with jackets that say "POLICE" emblazoned on them, and all packing side arms," gold miner C.R. Hammond told the Alaska Dispatch. [...] According to the EPA The investigation was into possible violations of the Clean Water Act.  The officers were part of the Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force and visited the outpost near the Canadian border during the third week of August to investigate water discharges into rivers, streams, lakes and oceans.  This is how the EPA handles an investigation, with rifles, handguns and bullet proof vests?

Parnell orders investigation of mining raids.  Enforcement officers with the federal Environmental Protection Agency and Bureau of Land Management were armed and wore body armor, according to Parnell.  He said an investigator with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation joined the agents, who said they were looking for violations of the Clean Water Act.

The Editor says...
I suspect this investigation could have been carried out by two little old ladies with a smart phone and a laptop.  Instead they sent a SWAT team.

Book Review: "Rise of the Warrior Cop".  Today SWAT teams are nothing special.  They've multiplied like mushrooms.  Every city has a SWAT team; 80% of towns between 25,000 and 50,000 people do as well.  These teams are busy; in 2005 there were between 50,000 and 60,000 SWAT raids in the U.S.  The tactics are pretty much what you would expect — breaking down doors, rushing in with military weaponry, tear gas — but the targets aren't.  SWAT teams are routinely deployed against illegal poker games, businesses suspected of employing illegal immigrants and barbershops with unlicensed hair stylists.

Are Police in America Now a Military Occupying Force?  [Scroll down]  When considered in terms of cops per square mile, Los Angeles assigns a whopping 469 officers per square mile, followed by New York with 303 officers per square mile, and Chicago with 227 cops per square mile. [...] Consider that in 1980, there were roughly 3,000 SWAT team-style raids in the US.  By 2001, that number had grown to 45,000 and has since swelled to more than 80,000 SWAT team raids per year.  On an average day in America, over 100 Americans have their homes raided by SWAT teams.

Armed agents raid animal shelter for baby deer.  WISN 12 News investigates an operation raising questions about the use of government resources and the state policy that meant a death sentence for a fawn.  "It was like a SWAT team," shelter employee Ray Schulze said.  Two weeks ago, Schulze was working in the barn at the Society of St. Francis on the Kenosha-Illinois border when a swarm of squad cars arrived and officers unloaded with a search warrant.

13 Wisconsin officials raid animal shelter to kill baby deer named Giggles.  Two weeks ago, Ray Schulze was working in a barn at the Society of St. Francis no-kill animal shelter in Kenosha, Wis., when officials swarmed the shelter with a search warrant.  "[There were] nine [Department of Natural Resources] agents and four deputy sheriffs, and they were all armed to the teeth," Mr. Schulze told WISN 12.  "It was like a SWAT team."  The agents were there to retrieve a baby deer named Giggles that was dropped off by a family worried she had been abandoned by her mother, the station reported. Wisconsin law forbids the possession of wildlife.

13 Wisconsin officials raid animal shelter to kill baby deer named Giggles.  Two weeks ago, Ray Schulze was working in a barn at the Society of St. Francis no-kill animal shelter in Kenosha, Wis., when officials swarmed the shelter with a search warrant.  "[There were] nine [Department of Natural Resources] agents and four deputy sheriffs, and they were all armed to the teeth," Mr. Schulze told WISN 12.  "It was like a SWAT team."  The agents were there to retrieve a baby deer named Giggles that was dropped off by a family worried she had been abandoned by her mother, the station reported. Wisconsin law forbids the possession of wildlife.

Rise of the Warrior Cop.  The police say that they knocked and identified themselves, though [Matthew David] Stewart and his neighbors said they heard no such announcement.  Mr. Stewart fired 31 rounds, the police more than 250.  Six of the officers were wounded, and Officer Jared Francom was killed.  Mr. Stewart himself was shot twice before he was arrested.  He was charged with several crimes, including the murder of Officer Francom.

SWAT Overkill: The Danger of a Paramilitary Police Force.  [Scroll down]  Abetting this trend was the federal government's willingness to make surplus military equipment available to police and sheriffs' departments.  All sorts of hardware is available, from M-16s to body armor to armored personnel carriers and even helicopters.  Lots of police departments grabbed the gear and started SWAT teams, even if they had no real need for them.  The materiel was free, and it was fun.

Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America.  Americans have long maintained that a man's home is his castle and that he has the right to defend it from unlawful intruders.  Unfortunately, that right may be disappearing.  Over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work.  The most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.  These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they're sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers.  These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors.

Boston SWAT team
An Unbearable Aroma of Self-Righteousness in SWAT Nation.  [Scroll down]  The so-called "voluntary lock-down" in Watertown — a more appropriate phrase might be "martial law" — offered a chilling spectacle for anyone who cherishes his personal freedom.  Remember the Fourth Amendment?  That guaranteed that "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated."  Yet in Watertown, platoons of heavily armed police in combat gear went from house to house, guns drawn, banging down doors, screaming at people to come out of their own houses with their hands on their head.  There were "a lot of big guns pointed at us," said one Watertown resident.  Several news outlets used the word "surreal" to describe this concentrated display of the coercive power of the state.  What worries me is not that it is "surreal" but that it is, increasingly, all too real.

Second time this month: Obama gun-ban critic raided by heavily-armed fed contingent.  I'm sure his opposition to the President's assault on the Constitution has nothing to do with the raid.  Aren't you?  This is the second known military-style raid on "preppers" in New Jersey in a little over a month based upon the word of informants, and I hasten to add, "known."  There are quite possibly other raids that haven't made the news.  In neither of these instances are the people raided known to have a violent record.  Whether New Jersey is singling out preppers for these insanely over the top, highly dangerous, and extremely wasteful raids are legitimate questions that should be asked of the local, state, and federal agencies in New Jersey that are putting lives at risk to justify their quasi-military toys.

Maryland State Police, FBI SWAT Teams Thwart a Guy with a Few Guns.  You are forgiven for thinking that a major terrorist attack was thwarted in Sharpsburg, Maryland, this past Thursday.  A Maryland State Police helicopter was in the air over 4433 Mills Road most of the day, as police, FBI SWAT teams, armored vehicles, and K-9 units converged upon the residence of Terry Allen Porter, 46.  Porter, however, wasn't home.  Nor, it turned out, was Porter on any "Most Wanted" lists.  Terry Allen Porter's home was raided using all the power of the state security apparatus not because he was terrorist, a bank robber, serial killer, or a relative of the Kennedy clan, but because of an anonymous tip that he was an avid outdoorsman.

Apparently, cops must watch a lot of television.  Sometimes there is a good reason to send a dozen cops out to surround somebody's house, toss in some tear gas, and drag the bad guys off to jail.  But it isn't necessary for the police to initiate violence against non-violent suspects.  And in their zeal, they sometimes raid the wrong house altogether.  SWAT team raids are probably really justified about once a month, but one article below says there are 4½ SWAT raids every day -- in Maryland alone!*

Remembering the Murder of Donald Scott.  [Scroll down]  More than thirty officers from five different agencies — including the DEA and the Forest Service but not, significantly, the Ventura County Sheriff's Office — took part in the assault on Scott's home.  Two of the participants in the attack on Scott's home told Bradbury that the possibility of "forfeiting" the land was explicitly discussed during the pre-raid briefing.

Man Dies in Police Raid on Wrong House.  A 61-year-old man was shot to death by police while his wife was handcuffed in another room during a drug raid on the wrong house.  Police admitted their mistake, saying faulty information from a drug informant contributed to the death of John Adams Wednesday night [9/26/2012].  They intended to raid the home next door.

Florida Police Knock on Wrong Door at 1:30 a.m. Without Identifying Themselves, Then Fatally Shoot Armed Resident.  Via Instapundit comes the news that deputies in Lake County, Florida, early on July 15, fatally shot a man named Andrew Lee Scott.  Deputies say they didn't identify themselves as police when they knocked on Scott's apartment door at 1:30 a.m.  They also say that when Scott, 26, answered  while armed  with gun drawn, they immediately opened fire and killed Scott in his own doorway.  His girlfriend was present in the apartment.

The SWAT Shooting of Jose Guerena.  All evidence suggests an incompetent investigation and raid resulted in the death of an innocent father and Marine.

Marine Survives Two Tours in Iraq, then SWAT Kills Him.  [Scroll down] KGUN's Joel Waldman says the SWAT team prevented paramedics from going to work on Guerena for one hour and fourteen minutes.  The sheriff's department maintains that Guerena was holding an AR-15 when the paramilitary force fired 71 bullets in his home, but other key parts of the government story have collapsed.  While PCSD initially claimed Guerena fired the weapon he was alleged to have been holding, the department now says it was a misfire by one of the deputies that caused this deadly group panic inside a home containing a woman and a toddler.

A Guy Gets SWAT Team-ed for Not Securing His Wireless Network.  [Scroll down]  You know where this is going.  They got the wrong guy.  Someone else had used Covert's wireless connection to download child porn.  ["]Law enforcement officials say the case is a cautionary tale.["]  It sure is.  I can certainly think of some lessons we might draw.  One might be:  Maybe the cops should check to see if a suspect's wireless network is secure, and therefore that they have the right guy, before they break into his home and point their guns at his head.

The EPA's Swat Team:  Hubert Vidrine, a manager at a refinery plant, was at work when FBI and EPA Criminal Division Agents stormed into his place of business using M-16s and police dogs.  His alleged crime was storing waste covered by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) without obtaining a permit.  Just wait, it gets better...

DOE 'SWAT' raid still troubling after story corrections.  The story was a sensation on Wednesday morning [6/8/2011].  A Department of Education SWAT team broke down the door to a house owned by a man whose wife was delinquent on her student loans, according to original reports.  The man was handcuffed and, along with his children, put in a cop car for 6 hours.  It turns out that some of this story was misreported.  It wasn't a SWAT team but a special branch of the DOE who executes search warrants.  And it wasn't for a student loan, but the warrant was in connection with a criminal investigation.  But before you breathe a sigh of relief, it should be rightly asked:  What ... is DOE doing with a paramilitary unit to serve warrants?

SWAT team launch dawn raid on family home to collect unpaid student loans.  A father was dragged from his home and handcuffed in front of his children by a SWAT team looking for his estranged wife — to collect her unpaid student loans.  A stunned Kenneth Wright had his front door kicked in by the raiding party at 6 am yesterday before being dragged onto his front porch, handcuffed and led to a police car with his three children.

SWAT Team Raids House at 6 AM ... for Estranged Wife's Defaulted Student Loans.  If this story isn't a wake-up call about the militarization of police and criminalization of everything, then I'm afraid the patient is even deader than the Fourth Amendment.  Read this, and weep for what your country has become.

The cops raid the wrong house:
Computer snafu is behind at least 50 'raids' on Brooklyn couple's home.  Blame it on a computer.  Embarrassed cops on Thursday [3/18/2010] cited a "computer glitch" as the reason police targeted the home of an elderly, law-abiding couple more than 50 times in futile hunts for bad guys.

Wrong house:
Wrong apartment raided in Annapolis.  Wearing masks and carrying rifles, Annapolis police officers attempting to execute a search warrant broke down the door of an apartment, set off a percussion grenade that released smoke and a flash of light and noise, and kicked one occupant in the groin.  Then they realized that they were at the wrong address.

FBI Executes No-Knock Raid — On The Wrong House.  A young girl was nearly killed by FBI agents who not only raided the wrong house, but shot at an unarmed teenage girl.

FBI Shoots Up House of Unarmed People.  An FBI SWAT team stormed a family home in District Heights, Maryland, yesterday [11/15/2012] at 6 a.m.  Agents fired at an unarmed 18-year-old woman in what appears to have been a no-knock raid.

Oops!  Wrong house.
FBI cuts down Mass. mom's door in wrong-home raid.  A Massachusetts mother says the FBI used a chain saw to cut through her door and held her at gunpoint for at least 30 minutes before agents realized they were conducting a raid at the wrong home.

Uh-oh.  Wrong house.  Sorry we killed you.
SWAT and the Second Amendment.  On July 15, 2012, at 1:30 a.m. in Leesburg, Florida, Lake County deputies knocked on the door of 26-year-old Andrew Lee Scott's apartment, thinking attempted murder suspect Jonathan Brown was inside.  They did not identify themselves in any way.  Brown had been seen earlier in the apartment complex, and his motorcycle was parked near Scott's apartment.  This was the only "evidence" of his presence.  When Scott opened his door with a gun in his hand, a deputy opened fire, killing Scott.  Brown was later found in a nearby apartment and arrested.

Minneapolis SWAT Team Raids Wrong House.  Khang, a Hmong immigrant with shaky command of English, set down his gun, raised his hands and was soon on the ground, an officer's boot on his neck.  The gunmen, it turned out, were members of a police SWAT team that had raided the wrong address because of bad information from an informant — a mistake that some critics say happens all too frequently around the country and gets innocent people killed.

Murder with a badge.  Public confidence in law enforcement is essential to maintaining a free and orderly society.  The thin blue line frequently finds itself under attack from the left, so it's natural for conservatives to come readily to its defense.  This instinct should be resisted when police make serious mistakes and engage in a cover-up instead of asking forgiveness from the public.

The cops raid the wrong house, again:
Alameda raid mistakenly targets TV reporter's home.  Police and FBI agents arrested a drug suspect in Alameda on Wednesday [9/14/2011], but not before mistakenly trying to raid a home across the street belonging to a network TV reporter and her political consultant husband.  Alameda and Martinez police, together with FBI agents, pounded on the door of CBS News contributor Priya David Clemens and her husband, Alex Clemens, at their home on Lina Avenue at about 7 a.m.

When cops knock, can they barge in?  Police came to Maria Huff's Burbank home in 2007 after hearing that her son had written a letter threatening to shoot up his high school.  They asked Huff if they could come in and she said no, not without a warrant.  When they asked if there were any guns in the house, Huff said she would get her husband, then headed inside, followed by her son, who was also at the doorway, and four officers.  After remaining for five to 10 minutes and finding no evidence of a crime, the officers left.  In short order they were hit with a civil suit by Huff, her husband and son — who had written no such threatening letter — for entering the home without any legal justification.

Guilty no matter the intent.  In May of 2004, federal agents in a black sport utility vehicle ran Krister Evertson off the road, piled out of their vehicle in full SWAT gear, trained an automatic weapon at his head, and arrested him.  Evertson's crime?  He failed to put a federally mandated sticker on a UPS package.  A jury acquitted Evertson of the charges, but the feds later charged Evertson for "abandoning" hazardous material.  Evertson is an award-winning scientist working on fuel-cell technology, and the chemicals were both properly stored and necessary for his work.  Nonetheless, he spent 21 months in federal prison.

Armed and dangerous:  Federal agencies expanding use of firepower BATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service, even the National Park Service and Department of Health and Human Services — all have their own SWAT teams.

Former Marine killed by SWAT was acting in defense, family says.  New details are emerging about Jose Guerena, the man killed last Thursday [5/5/2011] in a SWAT incident at his Tucson home.  He was gunned down by SWAT members while his wife and young child hid in a closet.  Now, the Pima County Sheriff's Department has taken responsibility for the fatal shooting.

Sheriff Lott's New Toy.  The Richland County, South Carolina Sheriff's Department just obtained an armored personnel carrier, complete with a belt-fed, .50-cal turreted machine gun.  Sheriff Leon Lott has charmingly named the vehicle "The Peacemaker," and insists that using a caliber of ammunition that even the U.S. military is reluctant to use against human targets (it's generally reserved for use against armored vehicles) will "save lives."  Can we call this overkill, yet?

4.5 SWAT Raids Per Day.  Over the last six months of 2009, SWAT teams were deployed 804 times in the state of Maryland, or about 4.5 times per day.  In Prince George's County alone, with its 850,000 residents, a SWAT team was deployed about once per day.  According to a Baltimore Sun analysis, 94 percent of the state's SWAT deployments were used to serve search or arrest warrants, leaving just 6 percent in response to the kinds of barricades, bank robberies, hostage takings, and emergency situations for which SWAT teams were originally intended.

Bellevue family sues FBI over 'terrifying' raid.  The lasting impact of the raid on Gary Adams' home became clear in a comment from his 3-year-old granddaughter during a recent trip to the pharmacy.  "She said, 'Granddad. Police. Hide,'  " Adams, 57, of Bellevue recalled Wednesday while discussing the federal lawsuit he filed against the officers who burst into his home March 3.

Botched Paramilitary Police Raids:  An Epidemic of "Isolated Incidents".  Map shows where incidents have occurred resulting in death or injury of a police officer, death of a nonviolent offender, raid on an innocent suspect, unnecessary raids on doctors and sick people, and other examples of paramilitary police excess.

Stockton Homeowner Wants Police To Fix Trashed House.  The San Jose Police Department stormed into a Stockton home searching for an accused killer, but they left without him, and left behind a complete mess.

Apparently it was a SWAT raid for no reason other than intimidation.
Gibson Guitars still faces no charges, months after raid.  Back in August, the federal government's raid on Gibson Guitars made huge news.  The raid by armed agents was ostensibly conducted because Gibson was illegally using rare, restricted woods from India and Madagascar to make its guitars — even though nobody in India or Madagascar filed any complaints against them.

More about the raid on Gibson Guitar.


"At least until the 1980s, SWAT teams and other paramilitary units were used sparingly, only in volatile, high-risk situations such as bank robberies or hostage situations.  Likewise, "no-knock" raids were generally used only in situations where innocent lives were determined to be at imminent risk."

Radley Balko       


Criminalizing everyone.  "You don't need to know.  You can't know."  That's what Kathy Norris, a 60-year-old grandmother of eight, was told when she tried to ask court officials why, the day before, federal agents had subjected her home to a furious search.  The agents who spent half a day ransacking Mrs. Norris' longtime home in Spring, Texas, answered no questions while they emptied file cabinets, pulled books off shelves, rifled through drawers and closets, and threw the contents on the floor.  The six agents, wearing SWAT gear and carrying weapons, were with — get this — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Unlikely Orchid Smuggler:  A Case Study in Overcriminalization.  George Norris, an elderly retiree, had turned his orchid hobby into a part-time business run from the greenhouse in back of his home.  He would import orchids from abroad — South Africa, Brazil, Peru — and resell them at plant shows and to local enthusiasts.  He never made more than a few thousand dollars a year from his orchid business, but it kept him engaged and provided a little extra money — an especially important thing as his wife, Kathy, neared retirement from her job managing a local mediation clinic.  Their life would take a turn for the worse on the bright fall morning of October 28, 2003, when federal agents, clad in protective Kevlar and bearing guns, raided his home, seizing his belongings and setting the gears in motion for a federal prosecution and jail time.

Federal SWAT Raid Over ... Orchids.  So as it turns out, even the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has its own SWAT team.

More about the George Norris case.

Justice for Sal.  Last week The Washington Post reported that Sal Culosi's parents have reached a $2 million settlement with Fairfax County, Virginia, police Detective Deval Bullock, who shot and killed the 38-year-old optometrist during a January 2006 SWAT raid on his home.  The unusual settlement reflects the outrageous facts of this case, in which an unarmed man suspected of nothing more than betting on sports was recklessly gunned down during an unnecessarily violent operation.

Pre-Crime Policing.  An allegedly "disgruntled" man has his guns seized, and "voluntarily" surrenders to two SWAT teams and dozens of police officers for a crime that hadn't been committed.

SWAT officers invade home, take 11-year-old at gunpoint.  Nearly a dozen members of a police SWAT team in western Colorado punched a hole in the front door and invaded a family's home with guns drawn, demanding that an 11-year-old boy who had had an accidental fall accompany them to the hospital, on the order of Garfield County Magistrate Lain Leoniak.  The boy's parents and siblings were thrown to the floor at gunpoint and the parents were handcuffed in the weekend assault, and the boy's father told WND it was all because a paramedic was upset the family preferred to care for their son themselves.

Home your castle? Not anymore.  [Scroll down]  Meanwhile in Detroit, a 7-year old girl sleeping on her grandmother's sofa was shot as a SWAT team crashed into the home looking for a murder suspect.  Turns out they had the wrong house.  The murder suspect lived next door.  Then there is the case of Cory Maye, a young man I've written about several times over the past few years.  Maye fired blindly as intruders crashed through a back door into his baby daughter's bedroom.  One of the intruders was hit.  In the next moment the intruders identified themselves as police officers and Cory Maye immediately surrendered.  He was convicted of murder of a police officer and sentenced to death.

In Virginia, the Death Penalty for Gambling.  [Scroll down]  As [Salvatore] Culosi emerged from the doorway, clad only in a t-shirt and jeans, SWAT officer Deval Bullock's finger apparently slipped to the trigger of his Heckler & Koch MP5 semiautomatic weapon, already aimed at the unarmed Culosi.  The gun fired, releasing a bullet that entered Culosi's side, then ripped through his chest and struck his heart, killing him instantly.  It only got worse from there.

Big News in Culosi Case.  Apparently, the recommendation handed down by the internal police investigation is that the officer who shot and killed Culosi be given three weeks of unpaid suspension, and that he be removed from the SWAT team.  I'm not as outraged by that recommendation as Culosi's family (though I fully understand their outrage).  But as you expect, it's far less than one I would consider a just outcome.

Mass SWAT Raids in Buffalo.  [Scroll down]  It'll be interesting to see how many of the 78 people arrested actually get charged and convicted.  From the 38 SWAT raids, police seized a total of five guns, not exacty a data point in support of the argument that SWAT teams are necessary because drug dealers are overwhelmingly armed with high-powered weaponry.  Also, given that police seized a grand total six pounds of marijuana and seven ounces of crack in the entire operation, it's probably a bit of a stretch to say the raids "put a dent" in the Buffalo drug trade.  I'd imagine you'd find that much weed in a single SUNY-Buffalo frat house.  Bringing the media along for the ride was a nice touch, though.

SWAT Officer Killed by Non-Lethal Flashbang Grenade.  The only malfunction with the flashbangs in these stories was the timing of their detonation.  Had they not gone off prematurely, they would eventually have been used against U.S. citizens, just as they're used every day in America.  Most of the time, they're used against people merely suspected of a crime, and most of the time those crimes are nonviolent, consensual drug crimes.  That is, by design, when they're used exactly as intended, flashbangs cause serious, sometimes permanent injury to people who have yet to even be charged -- much less convicted -- of nonviolent, consensual crimes.

This Is Your War on Drugs.  We have another video of a raid by the Columbia Police Department. ... This isn't like watching video of a car accident or a natural disaster.  This doesn't have to happen.  You're watching something your government does to your fellow citizens about 150 times per day in this country.  If this very literal "drug war" insanity is going to continue to be waged in our name, we ought to make [very] sure everyone knows exactly what it entails.

Practice on the People.  A reader sends this incredible column from Tactical Response magazine, which I gather is a periodical for SWAT types. ... The author is actually suggesting SWAT commanders lobby to have their teams deployed in situations for which they normally wouldn't be to ensure they're in good practice.  Put another way, he suggests they practice their door smashing, room-clearing, flash-grenade deploying, and other paramilitary tactics on less-than-violent people, so they're in better form when a real threat arises.

Sheriff: SWAT Team Necessary Because Man Is a "Self-Proclaimed Constitutionalist".  As it turns out, the kid was fine.  After the raid, a doctor examined him, and told him to drink some fluids and take a Tylenol.  I'm even more troubled by the explanation for the aggressive tactics:  ["]The sheriff said the decision to use SWAT team force was justified because the father was a 'self-proclaimed constitutionalist' and had made threats and 'comments' over the years.  However, the sheriff declined to provide a single instance of the father's illegal behavior.  'I can't tell you specifically,' he said.["]

The Deadliest Rhetoric.  At 12:30 a.m. on January 5, just three days before Jared Lee Loughner opened fire at a Tucson gathering hosted by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), a SWAT team in Framingham, Massachusetts, conducted a drug raid on the home of 68-year-old Eurie Stamps.  Stamps wasn't the target of the raid.  Nor was he armed when the police shot him.  In fact, police had found their suspects, Joseph Bushfan — the 20-year-old son of Stamps' girlfriend — and Devon Talbert, also 20.  The two were arrested outside the home.  They still went ahead with the raid, which ended with Stamps' death.

Fourth Circuit Denies Qualified Immunity in Mistaken SWAT Raid.  [Scroll down]  I still wonder why gun rights groups like the NRA aren't more disturbed by the ubiquitous use of SWAT teams.  Here, the fact that the Bellotte's were legal, registered gun owners was used as justification for the violent, volatile entry into their home.  It isn't the first time this has happened.  You'd think that's something that might concern Second Amendment acitivists.

Brothers recall SWAT team break-in.  Kenneth and James Jimerson were pulled from their bed, put in handcuffs and taken from their home. ... The SWAT team didn't any find anything in the brothers' home; turns out officers had invaded the wrong home.  "They came back and said apparently we have made a mistake," said Kenneth.

Swat Team turns house upside down looking for attempted murder suspect.  The swat team turned his house upside down looking for a man with a gun, and now this local homeowner wants to know who is going to clean up the mess left behind. ... Alicia Jennings, a concerned neighbor, told our cameras, "They kicked in the doors... pulled out the windows... the cabinets.  They destroyed this man's house."

Another Isolated Incident.  An elderly couple says Cook County sheriff's police on a drug raid smashed into their Southwest Side house late Thursday night, terrorizing them before admitting they had the wrong house.  With her husband already asleep, 84-year-old Anna Jakymek was just turning out the lights when she heard loud noises at the back and front doors about 11:30 p.m.  Her initial thought was that her 89-year old husband had fallen out of bed, but she realized something else was happening when she looked into the front room.

Deadly Force.  Civil libertarians argue that military-style raids escalate the level of violence in what could be routine police action, and are leaving a growing number of innocents terrorized, wounded or dead.  "Botched raids are a staple of law enforcement," said Graham Boyd, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Drug Law Reform Project.  "There is a never-ending stream of ruined homes, ruined lives and innocent people who are killed or terrorized."  The Cato Institute Web site features an interactive map tracking hundreds of botched paramilitary police raids nationwide beginning in the late 1990s, including dozens of instances in which innocent people were killed.

Elderly Woman Has Heart Attack: Mistaken SWAT Raid.  Once again, a SWAT team in Georgia has raided the wrong house — this after a supposed two-year investigation.  Maybe I'm missing something here, but it would seem that after two years they would know where they're supposed to be going.

Does NASA have a SWAT team, too?
NASA sting terrifies woman, 74.  But at the end of the sting operation, agents were left holding a speck of lunar dust smaller than a grain of rice and a 74-year-old suspect who was terrified by armed officials.

Detroit tragedy shows the dangers of paramilitary-style policing across US.  [Peter] Kraska estimates that the total number of SWAT deployments across the country "increased from a few hundred per year in the 1970s to a few thousand per year by the early 1980s to around 50,000 per year by the mid-2000s."  Today, he says "every decent-sized city has a SWAT team, and most have several.  Even absurdly small towns like Eufaula, Ala., (population 13,463) have them...  Where their purpose once was to defuse an already violent situation, today they break into homes to look for illicit drugs, creating violence and confrontation where there was none before."

Militarization and Policing — Its Relevance to 21st Century Police.  This work examines the blurring distinctions between the police and military institutions and between war and law enforcement.  In this article, the author asserts that understanding this blur, and the associated organizing concepts militarization and militarism, are essential for accurately analyzing the changing nature of security, and the activity of policing, in the late-modern era of the 21st century.

Is this still America?  Armed federal agents of the Department of Education conducted a pre-dawn SWAT-style raid on the home of a Stockton, Calif., man.  Read that again:  The Department of Education has taken up arms against the citizenry.  Meanwhile, federal Transportation Security Administration officials routinely grope our 6-year-olds and conveniently arrange that attractive women are subjected to their full-body porn cameras.  Not even George Orwell's 1984 dystopian police state went that far.

Prohibition.  Unlike Bill Clinton, President Obama admits he inhaled!  "Frequently," he said.  "That was the point."  People laugh when politicians talk about their drug use.  The audience laughed during a 2003 CNN Democratic presidential primary debate when John Kerry, John Edwards and Howard Dean admitted smoking weed.  Yet those same politicians oversee a cruel system that now stages SWAT raids on people's homes more than 100 times a day.  People die in these raids — some weren't even the intended targets of the police.

SWAT Team + Hooters Girls + White Supremacist + Katrina Humanitarian Mission = Best Local News Story Ever.  I really can't write a summary that does all of this justice.

Botched Raids Not Rare.  The botched Atlanta raid that ended in the shooting death of 88-year-old Kathryn Johnston was sad and tragic, but unfortunately, it was neither uncommon nor unpredictable.  After taking a year to research and write a paper for the Cato Institute on the proliferation of forced-entry, paramilitary-style raids, I'm sorry to say Johnston is just one of at least 40 innocent people killed in botched raids over the last 20 years in America.  Worse, there are dozens more cases of low-level offenders, bystanders — and police officers killed or injured.





Cops and their dogs


Tarrant County man stabs police dog; shot dead by cop.  Police said Tuesday [8/26/2014] that 22-year-old Mark Salazar of Blue Mound, Texas, stabbed a police dog named Kye, then was shot to death Sunday by the dog's handler.

AP photograph by Sue Ogrocki
Kye the K-9 police dog is buried with full honors.  An Oklahoma City police dog named Kye was laid to rest Thursday [8/28/2014] with full honors after dying in the line of duty.  During a funeral service, Kye's human partner, Sgt. Ryan Stark, leaned over the 3-year-old dog's flag-draped casket to give his four-legged friend a final pat.

K-9 buried with full police honors after dying in line of duty.  More than 1,000 people and dozens of service dogs attended the funeral service last week for Kye, a 3-year-old Belgian German Shepherd that was stabbed to death by the suspect.  Kye's partner since serving on the police department's K-9 unit, Sgt. Ryan Stark, shed tears and expressed a final farewell to the dog before his flag-draped coffin was buried and the canine was given out a 21-gun salute.

This Dog Can Send You to Jail.  [Scroll down]  He said that he was going to write me a warning, and I said, 'OK, that's fine.'  He asked me if I had any drugs in the car.  I said, 'No, sir, I don't do drugs, and I don't associate with people who do.'  He asked me would I mind if he searched my vehicle, and I said, 'Well, yes, I would mind if you searched my vehicle.'"  But thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, the deputy did not have to take no for an answer.  In the 2005 case Illinois v. Caballes, the Court declared that "the use of a well-trained narcotics-detection dog... during a lawful traffic stop generally does not implicate legitimate privacy interests."

Machine Gun-Toting Officers To Patrol NYC Subway.  The NYPD is pulling out all the stops to beef up safety of the subways.  On Thursday it launched a new anti-terror effort called "Operation Torch," but the cost of the program is raising some eyebrows.  The NYPD's new firepower consists of cops with Mp5 submachine guns, rifles, body armor and bomb-sniffing dogs.

The cops are always looking for drugs.
Drug-sniffing dogs in traffic stops often wrong.  Drug-sniffing dogs can give police probable cause to root through cars by the roadside, but state data show the dogs have been wrong more often than they have been right about whether vehicles contain drugs or paraphernalia.  The dogs are trained to dig or sit when they smell drugs, which triggers automobile searches.  But a [Chicago] Tribune analysis of three years of data for suburban departments found that only 44 percent of those alerts by the dogs led to the discovery of drugs or paraphernalia.  For Hispanic drivers, the success rate was just 27 percent.

AP photograph
Decorated K-9 laid to rest with full ceremonial honors as his emotional handler proudly looks on.  The trained bomb detection specialist was also employed as a tracker — and one of his final duties as a police dog was to track a hit and run suspect in Eastern Oklahoma County.

Under attack: Depth of federal arms race should surprise, shock citizenry.  In late February, four federal agents carrying side arms with a drug-sniffing dog descended on the Taos Ski Valley in what was called a "saturation patrol."  Authorities were working on tips of possible drug selling and impaired driving in the ski resort's parking lot and surrounding area.  But the agents weren't from the FBI, ATF, or even the Drug Enforcement Administration.  Rather, the agents represented the U.S. Forest Service. [...] It may come as a surprise to many U.S. taxpayers, but a slew of federal agencies — some whose responsibilities seem to have little to do with combating crime — carry active law enforcement operations.

'Racist' LA police dogs only bite Latinos and African-Americans.  Police officers in Los Angeles have long faced accusations of institutional racism, but now it appears their dogs may be unjustly discriminatory, too.  A new report focusing on the Canine Special Detail of the LA Sherriff's Department (LASD) has uncovered a vast increase in the number of minority individuals bitten by police dogs since 2004.  And in the first six months of this year, every single victim of a bite by a LASD dog was African-American or Latino.

A Drug Dog Named 'Guilty'.  Over the last 20 years or so, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the alert from a drug dog is enough to establish probable cause for a search.  The problem is that while it's true that dogs have a finely tuned sense of smell, far better than any technology we humans have been able to develop, we've also bred into dogs a trait that can supersede that ability — an eagerness to please us.  Without careful training, drug dogs will end up relying more on the body language of their trainers than on their olfactory prowess.  That means that for many drug dogs, an "alert" is little more than a validation of the suspicions of its handler, [...]

Police defend K-9 in attack on 8-year-old.  Police say the Friday [11/25/2011] attack of the department's police dog, Storm, on an 8-year-old boy was an unfortunate accident, but Storm has done much more good than bad during his time with the department.  The boy, Patrick Assion, was visiting his grandmother's house in Campbell and playing hide-and-seek with his cousin in the backyard when Storm took hold of Patrick's arm and dragged him to the ground.

If a police dog barks at you, don't bark back.
Florida linebacker arrested for barking at police dog.  While police were checking out a disturbance at an after-hours club, Antonio Morrison approached a police vehicle and made a 'woof-woof' sound at a canine in the back seat according to the Orlando Sentinel.  That was enough to put him behind bars.

Ohio man charged after barking at police dog.  Police say an Ohio man has been charged with a misdemeanor for barking at a police dog.

Don't insult a police dog.
Woman Arrested for Making Faces at a Dog.  A prosecutor has dropped charges against a woman who was arrested for staring at and making faces at a police dog.

County Sheriff Enjoys Fruits of Forfeitures.  The sheriff's office in Douglas County, Neb., just finished a new $4.2 million crime lab and police-dog center thanks to money seized from people driving by on Interstate 80.  That money is a small part of a large and controversial asset-forfeiture program known as "equitable sharing."

Highway "forfeiture traps" are apparently still alive and flourishing.  A few years ago these forfeiture traps on interstate highways were getting a lot of media attention.  Television news shows such as 20/20 and 60 Minutes aired exposes on forfeiture traps in Volusia County, Florida, and Sulphur, Louisiana.  Local police in these small towns made millions of dollars in profits by trolling the interstate highways and stopping travelers with out of state tags.  The police typically claimed some traffic infraction, asked permission to search the car and got it, found no drugs but some cash, then brought in a drug sniffing dog, and after getting it to "alert," seized all the travelers' money.




Cops and your dog


Why are police shooting so many family dogs?  A rash of animal shootings by police officers nationwide has law-enforcement agencies running for cover amid growing public outrage that could force state legislatures to require greater accountability from men and women in uniform.  Police in Utah shot a family's dog while searching for a lost boy, prompting hundreds of pet owners to protest June 28 in front of the Salt Lake City Police Department headquarters.  They carried signs demanding "justice for Geist," a 110-pound Weimaraner shot by a city cop within the dog's fenced-in back yard.  The "missing" boy was later found sleeping in his home.

Utah rally: End police shootings of dogs.  To the Guerreros, dogs are part of the family.  So on Saturday [10/25/2014], the family — mother, two daughters, a grandson, a granddaughter, a great-grandson and a few four-legged members of the clan — joined a rally on the steps of the Utah Capitol calling for an end to police shooting dogs.  They hope their show of force, along with about 50 other people and a dozen canines who joined the rally, will lead to change.  "It shows them we're not going to let it go," Wendi Guerrero said of the campaign to change how police react when they encounter a family pet.

Dog owners dispute officer's account of shooting pit bull to death.  Video of a Cleburne couple's dog being shot to death is making the rounds on Facebook, and Cleburne police say one of their officers pulled the trigger.  The department also says the short, edited video clip of the dog being killed doesn't give the full picture of what happened and why the officer fired his weapon.  The video was captured by the officer's body cam.

The militarization of America's police.  [Scroll down]  Perhaps the most common victim of police militarization is the family dog.  About 250 to 300 cop-shoots-dog cases are now recorded in the U.S. media every year, according to Randall Lockwood of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and he estimates that another 1,000 aren't reported.  Some of the shot dogs are dangerous breeds trained to attack, but many are family pets that simply get excited and fearful during raids and bark at police officers.  The dead dogs include such breeds as Chihuahuas and golden retrievers, and even a miniature dachshund that made the mistake of growling at a police officer during one SWAT operation.  "These guys think that the only solution to a dog that's yapping or charging is shooting and killing it," says former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper.  "It goes with the notion that police officers have to control every situation."

Family allegedly forced from home by police files rare Third Amendment suit.  According to the complaint, it all began when the Henderson city police called Anthony Mitchell that morning to say they needed his house to gain "tactical advantage" in a domestic violence investigation in the neighborhood.  The situation turned ugly when Mitchell refused repeated requests to leave and police smashed through the door, the 18-page complaint states.  Mitchell alleges the police, upon entering his home, forced him to the floor at gunpoint, then shot him and his "cowering" dog with a few rounds of pepper-spray pellets.

Uphold the Third Amendment.  [Scroll down]  Now we see another Third Amendment case, from Henderson, Nev., in which the plaintiffs, the Mitchell family, claim that Henderson police seized their home — battering the door open with a battering ram — so as to secure an advantageous position in addressing a domestic violence report involving a neighboring house.  The police were quite rude — calling the inhabitants "a•••••••s" and shooting both Anthony Mitchell and his dog with a pepper-ball gun — before setting up a lookout post in the house.  Should the Third Amendment have something to say about this?

Woman issued citation by authorities for Facebook comment.  Christine Adamski said she was surprised last week when she received a citation in the mail for a comment she made on Facebook, but she also knew immediately she wasn't going to pay it.  Adamski, 25, opened the $50 ticket from the Will County Forest Preserve District last week and read the letter alleging she had used a dog park without a proper permit.  The citation arrived at her Bolingbrook home with a letter explaining the ticket, an application for a dog park permit as well as a copy of her social media post "admitting her guilt."  "I laughed," Adamski said Thursday.  "I was like, this is totally untrue.  Obviously I'm not going to pay this."

Wrong house.  Sorry about the dog.
St. Paul Cops Shoot Dog in Wrong-Door Raid, Force Handcuffed Kids to Sit Near the Corpse.  A St. Paul, Minnesota family claims in a lawsuit that police officers who conducted a wrong-door raid on their home shot their dog, and then forced their three handcuffed children to sit near the dead pet while officers ransacked the home.  The lawsuit, which names Ramsey County, the Dakota County Drug Task Force, and the DEA, and asks for $30 million in civil rights violations and punitive damages after a wrong-door raid, also claims that the officers kicked the children and deprived one of them of her diabetes medication.  The suit also alleges that one of the lead officers with the task force "provided false information" in order to get a warrant to raid the Franco family's home.

Family questions SWAT drug search that led to dog's death.  SWAT team breaks into home, fires seven rounds at family's pit bull and corgi (?!) as a seven-year-old looks on.  They found a "small amount" of marijuana, enough for a misdemeanor charge.  The parents were then charged with child endangerment.  So smoking pot = "child endangerment."  Storming a home with guns, then firing bullets into the family pets as a child looks on = necessary police procedures to ensure everyone's safety.
Synopsis provided by Reason.com.

Austin Police Officer Fatally Shoots Dog After Going To Wrong Address.  An Austin police officer fatally shoots a dog after showing up at the wrong address for a domestic violence call.

Buffalo Woman Says Police Raided Wrong House, Killed Her Dog.  Prada was 5-years-old at the time. The black Labrador Retriever became more than a pet, but a part of [Rita] Hairston's family.  A companion.  Last Saturday morning, she returned to her E. Morris Ave. house in University Heights in Buffalo and discovered her home had been broken into and Prada was missing.  There was a puddle of blood on the floor and bullet holes in the door of a bedroom where Prada slept.  But it was not a burglar who broke in.  Hairston found a search warrant, signed by a judge, issued to the Erie County Sheriff's Department, on her kitchen floor.

Police Shot Dog in Apparent Raid at Wrong Apartment.  Buffalo police are investigating a Breckenridge St. man's claims that police killed his dog when they mistakenly raided his apartment while executing a search warrant.  Adam Arroyo wants police to apologize for the death of his pit bull Cindy, which was chained inside the kitchen during a raid on his home Monday [6/3/2013].

They Always Shoot the Dog.  A cop on a paramilitary drug raid decided to cut across the lawn at an adjacent home.  The homeowner's watch dogs did exactly what they're supposed to do when an uninvited guest trespasses on the property.  They attacked.  So the cop shot 'em.  One thing I've noticed while picking through the depressingly long list of botched drug raids:  The cops always shoot the dog.

N. Texas deputy accused of shooting man's dog to death gets fired.  A Rains County, TX sheriff's deputy accused of shooting and killing a farmer's dog for no reason has been fired, officials with the county sheriff's office confirmed Thursday.  The deputy argued that the dog, Candy, threatened his safety.  Candy's owner, Cole Middleton, is a third generation dairy farmer.  After Candy died, Middleton began a campaign on Facebook that is getting national attention and said she was killed for no good reason.

300-lb. probation officer shoots woman's 12-pound dog in Albany.  A probation officer in Southwest Georgia fatally shot a woman's 12-pound dog while on a routine visit Monday, an act the dog's owner claimed was unnecessary.  Cherrie Shelton's dog Patches, a two-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, approached officer Antoine Jones as he arrived at her home, she told FOX 31 in Albany.  Before Shelton, of Albany, could finish telling the officer the dog wouldn't bite, he had pulled out his gun and shot the dog.

Police Serve Warrrant at Wrong House, Shoot Their Dog, Now Refuse to Pay Vet Bills.  The City of Leander, Texas is refusing to pay the medical bills for a German Shepherd dog that was shot when police served a warrant at the wrong address.  An officer shot "Vinny" in June, putting the dog in the hospital with $1,500 in medical bills.  Luckily he survived and is recovering, but the city is denying the claim against them.  The family is planning to sue.




The raid on Mayor Cheye Calvo's house

To paraphrase Ray Donovan, where do they go to get their dogs back?

Prince George's raid prompts call for probe.  When the shooting stopped, two dogs lay dead.  A mayor sat in his boxers, hands bound behind his back.  His handcuffed mother-in-law was sprawled on the kitchen floor, lying beside the body of one of the family pets that police had killed before her eyes. ╔ What police left behind was a house stained with blood and a trail of questions about their conduct.

Police raid Maryland mayor's home and kill his dogs.  Mayor Cheye Calvo got home from work, saw a package addressed to his wife on the front porch and brought it inside, putting it on a table.  Suddenly, police with guns drawn kicked in the door and stormed in, shooting to death the couple's two dogs and seizing the unopened package.

Mayor Cleared In Raid That Killed Dogs.  A small-town mayor whose dogs were killed in a drug raid was cleared of any wrongdoing after police had been reluctant to rule out his involvement in drug smuggling or apologize for the violent incident.

Update:
Time to rein in police SWAT teams.  [Scroll down]  Ah, but it's so much easier and so much more fun to barrel into someone's house with big guns and storm trooper uniforms.  The proliferation of SWAT deployments in this country is stunning, up from 3,000 a year in the mid-1980s to more than 40,000 now, according to Peter Kraske, who studies the militarization of policing as a criminal-justice professor at Eastern Kentucky University. ... "Telling the people that these officers followed procedure and did nothing wrong sends a chilling message," [Cheye] Calvo says.  "And then we wonder why people who live in high-crime areas don't trust the police.  They treated us like animals.  They were not there to protect and serve, they were there to search and destroy."

Another update:
SWAT Gone Wild in Maryland.  Late last month, Berwyn Heights, Maryland Mayor Cheye Calvo took the unusual step of filing a civil rights lawsuit against the police department of his own county.  The suit stems from a 2008 SWAT team raid on Calvo's house that resulted in the shooting deaths of his two black Labrador retrievers.  In pushing back against the abuse he suffered at the hands of the Prince George's County police department, the mayor is helping expose a more widespread pattern of law enforcement carelessness and callousness throughout the state of Maryland.

4.5 SWAT Raids Per Day.  Over the last six months of 2009, SWAT teams were deployed 804 times in the state of Maryland, or about 4.5 times per day.  In Prince George's County alone, with its 850,000 residents, a SWAT team was deployed about once per day.  According to a Baltimore Sun analysis, 94 percent of the state's SWAT deployments were used to serve search or arrest warrants, leaving just 6 percent in response to the kinds of barricades, bank robberies, hostage takings, and emergency situations for which SWAT teams were originally intended.





Excessive force

Homeschooling Parents Pepper Sprayed and Tasered Because Home School Was 'Messy'.  A family that home schools their children were attacked by government thugs with a home invasion where the parents were tasered, pepper sprayed and handcuffed and all this in front of their kids.  And why was this done?  Because the government thought the home school environment was "messy."  This is the sort of stuff that you should expect from our thuggish governments.  They really, really hate homeschoolers not only because they are usually conservative and religious but because it takes children out of the hands of government propagandists who want to indoctrinate kids.

Sheriff's deputy knocked out teen girl while trying to break up high school fight, and made the brawl even worse.  A lunchtime fight at a Central California high school Wednesday ended with police swarming onto campus, closing the school and putting six students under arrest, authorities said.  However, Ernest Righetti High School students say the initial fight was relatively minor, and that it was a Sheriff's deputy striking one of the girls involved in the brawl that sparked the mass violence on campus.

Cops pummel bicyclist at Taco Bell drive-thru.  A New Smyrna Beach woman who was refused service at a Taco Bell drive-through window because she and her husband rode up on bicycles said Wednesday [11/19/2014] she feels discriminated against by the business and that police used excessive force during her spouse's arrest.

Kansas cops fatally shoot unarmed teen 16 times, media and DoJ silent.  You probably haven't heard about the case of Joseph Jennings, the unarmed Ottawa, Kansas 18 year old who was shot 16 times by police on August 23.  Eric Holder is not outraged, nor is Al Sharpton.  The town of Ottawa has experienced no riots or even protest marches.  After all, Jennings is only a Caucasian, and there is no profit to be had for the left in hyping an injustice done to a "white boy."

U.S. Police Have Killed Over 5,000 Civilians Since 9/11.  Statistically speaking, Americans should be more fearful of the local cops than "terrorists."  Though Americans commonly believe law enforcement's role in society is to protect them and ensure peace and stability within the community, the sad reality is that police departments are often more focused on enforcing laws, making arrests and issuing citations.  As a result of this as well as an increase in militarized policing techniques, Americans are eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist, estimates a Washington's Blog report based on official statistical data.

The Editor says...
The one-dimensional statistic in the title of the article immediately above should not be too alarming, in my opinion.  In most cases, people are shot by the cops because they put themselves in danger of being shot.  There have been a few cases where the police have opened fire without provocation, but those cases have been rare, and video footage of such incidents is even rarer.

Family of Bloomfield man shot by police claims shooting was unprovoked.  The family of a man fatally shot by Bloomfield police said on Thursday [8/28/2014] that the officers rushed onto the property without knocking on the door and did not immediately provide medical assistance to the wounded man, who was unarmed.  Police said they were responding to a domestic dispute call on Wednesday morning and were confronted by a man with a deadly weapon.  John J. Rogers, of Bloomfield, was pronounced dead late Wednesday morning in the San Juan Regional Medical Center emergency room.

Oh, the Things We Choose Not to See!  You may believe the [Michael Brown] shooting was an act of fatal racism or the justified elimination of a garden-variety criminal whose race was irrelevant.  Only one thing is certain and now obvious to nearly everybody now:  Policing in the U.S. has gone completely wrong.  Ferguson and St. Louis County police teamed up to turn a tense aftermath into a disaster.  They tear-gassed and shot rubber bullets at non-violent protestors.  They arrested reporters for the non-crime of taking video.  They strong-armed innocent people more thuggishly than the robber of that Ferguson convenience store ever did.  They acted in ways George Orwell warned about, informing protestors that "Your right to assembly is not being denied" — even as they denied it.  They incited rage by witholding the shooter's name for nearly a week — something they would never have done had he not been a cop.

OCME: Police chokehold caused Eric Garner's death.  The New York City medical examiner ruled Friday [8/1/2014] that a police officer's chokehold caused the death of a man whose videotaped arrest and final pleas of "I can't breathe!" sparked outrage and led to the announcement of a complete overhaul of use-of-force training for the nation's largest police force.

16 Reasons Why the United States is Going to Hell in a Handbasket.  [#6]  It seems that just about everyday I get emails from readers and read news reports of police abuse of power — everything from shooting and killing an unarmed and handcuffed man, to shooting a suspect in the back while running away, or a man executed by police for camping on public land (did you hear the "officer" yell, Booyah after shooting the man 6 times?), all justified of course, to police shooting and killing chained and caged dogs.  Even puppies and a 5 pound Chihuahua aren't safe from thugs in uniform.

Texas officer who shot armed 93-year-old fired.  Officials in a small Central Texas town voted Saturday [5/10/2014] to fire a police officer who shot and killed an armed 93-year-old woman during a confrontation at her home.

Supreme Court: Police Can't Brutalize Your Elderly Mother.  Today's hypothetical:  Police officers come to your home at 2 a.m., insist (as a result of their own clerical error) that the car you're driving is stolen property, order you to lie on your belly, slam your mother against a garage door, and then shoot you three times from 15 feet away when you protest.  Is there some chance — some very slight chance — that their conduct violates a "clearly established" constitutional right?  The Supreme Court on Monday [5/5/2014] said "yes."  All nine justices agreed that a lower court that blew off the claim needs to go back and take a fresh look at the issue.

Objections raised to handcuffing of 9-year-old in Portland.  A year ago, two Portland police officers investigating a fight at a youth club came to the home of a 9-year-old Portland girl, handcuffed her as she stood in a blue and white bathing suit, and led her away to be processed downtown on an assault charge.

Elderly man calls for ambulance, violent cops beat him instead.  An elderly Missouri man dialed 911 and asked for an ambulance to come and help his ailing wife.  Instead, the police showed up, threw him to the ground, sat on his head and handcuffed him.  He later received stitches for his injuries.  "I never had anybody jump on me for doing nothing," said the man, Elbert Breshears of Humansville, Missouri, in a statement to KSPR 33.

Woman Killed In Capitol Hill Chase Was Shot Five Times.  Six months after a Connecticut woman was killed in a hail of police gunfire on Capitol Hill, the federal investigation remains under wraps, even as new information has surfaced showing she was shot multiple times from behind, including once in the head.  Three of the five shots that hit Miriam Carey, 34, entered through her back, and another struck her upper left arm, according to the official report of her autopsy, obtained by a lawyer for her family.  An accompanying toxicology report shows that Carey, a dental assistant, had no drugs or alcohol in her system when she was killed.

Tucson cop who randomly slammed woman to the ground not so tough after receiving threats.  The Tucson police officer who was caught on video brutally pummeling a female student as she walked innocuously near the campus of the University of Arizona has been identified as Joel Mann, according to local ABC affiliate KGUN.  The thuggish incident occurred on Saturday as packed bars near campus slowly cleared out after the Arizona Wildcats men's basketball team lost a thrilling overtime game.  Mann, a sergeant with 18 years of experience, was one of a legion of officers deployed in full, pseudo-military riot gear.  He wore a helmet and face shield.  In the video, Mann comes out of absolutely nowhere and violently pushes woman over a metal frame.  She is smashed head over heels to the ground.

Suburban [Chicago] officer charged in 95-year-old's death.  An officer was charged this morning in the police killing of 95-year-old John Wrana, the World War II veteran who was fatally shot with beanbag rounds in his apartment at a south suburban senior facility last year. [...] The elderly man had refused medical treatment for a urinary tract infection, and reportedly became belligerent.  Police who were called to the scene fired a Taser that failed to hit Wrana, and then shot him with bean-bag rounds fired from a shotgun.  He died hours later of internal bleeding, authorities said.

Protesters Clash With Riot-Gear Clad Cops In Albuquerque.  People are angry over Albuquerque police's involvement in 37 shootings, 23 of them fatal since 2010.  Critics say that's far too many for a department serving a city of about 555,000.

Student sues after being arrested for buying bottled water.  A University of Virginia student arrested by Alcoholic Beverage Control agents who wrongly believed she'd illegally bought beer when in fact she only had bottled water is seeking $40 million in a lawsuit filed Tuesday [3/25/2014].  Elizabeth K. Daly, 21, alleges malicious prosecution, six counts of assault and battery and failure to appropriately train ABC agents in the suit which names the state and seven agents involved in her arrest.  Daly was arrested on April 11, 2013 when ABC agents confronted her outside of a Charlottesville supermarket.

Cops must face justice in killing of homeless man.  The beating was caught on a surveillance tape.  When you watch those 33 minutes of footage, assuming you can stomach the experience, it's hard to believe that anyone could declare the perpetrators "not guilty."  The surveillance camera footage shows Thomas being beaten and stunned with a Taser by police until he was unrecognizable and unconscious.

Police shootings of unarmed citizens.  Owing in large part to the militarization of local law enforcement agencies, not a week goes by without more reports of hair-raising incidents by police imbued with a take-no-prisoners attitude and a battlefield approach to the communities in which they serve.  Sadly, it is no longer unusual to hear about incidents in which police shoot unarmed individuals first and ask questions later, such as the 16-year-old teenager who skipped school only to be shot by police after they mistook him for a fleeing burglar.  Then there was the unarmed black man in Texas "who was pursued and shot in the back of the neck by Austin Police... after failing to properly identify himself and leaving the scene of an unrelated incident."  And who could forget the 19-year-old Seattle woman who was accidentally shot in the leg by police after she refused to show her hands?

Woman Thrown Face-First into Concrete Slab Sues Cops.  A Chicago woman is suing a police officer and the town of Skokie, Ill., claiming she was seriously injured when a cop used excessive force when he threw her face first into a jail cell's concrete bench following a drunk driving arrest.  Cassandra Feuerstein, 47, claims in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday [10/9/2013], that she required reconstructive surgery to "replace the bones that had been shattered" after being pushed into the cell on March 10.

95-year-old man dies after police use stun gun on him.  A 95-year-old Illinois man who allegedly confronted police officers with a knife and cane died after they shot him with a stun gun and bean bag rounds.  Officers were called to an assisted living home in the village of Park Forest Friday after the man, identified as John Warna, allegedly became combative with employees of a private ambulance company who were attempting to transfer him to a hospital for medical treatment, The (Chicago) SouthtownStar reported.

Autopsy: Bean bag rounds fired by police killed Park Forest man, 95.  A 95-year-old man died of internal bleeding after police fired bean-bag rounds at him during a confrontation in a Park Forest senior living complex, according to an autopsy performed Sunday [7/28/2013].

Was police killing of 95-year-old necessary?  When John Wrana was a young man, fit and strong and fighting in World War II with the U.S. Army Air Corps, did he ever think he'd end this way?  Just a few weeks shy of his 96th birthday, in need of a walker to move about, cops coming through the door of his retirement home with a Taser and a shotgun.

World War II veteran, 95, died after police shot him with TASER and bean bag rounds.  A 95-year-old world War II veteran died after being Tasered and hit with bean bag rounds by police for threatening care home staff — but his family insist he was killed unnecessarily.  Police say that John Wrana, who lived in a Chicago assisting living home, was brandishing his cane, a metal shoehorn and a knife before officers shocked him and hit him with bean bag rounds.

Bottled-water purchase leads to night in jail for U.Va. student.  When a half-dozen men and a woman in street clothes closed in on University of Virginia student Elizabeth Daly, 20, she and two roommates panicked. [...] A group of state Alcoholic Beverage Control agents clad in plainclothes approached her, suspecting the blue carton of LaCroix sparkling water to be a 12-pack of beer.  Police say one of the agents jumped on the hood of her car.  She says one drew a gun.  Unsure of who they were, Daly tried to flee the darkened parking lot.  "They were showing unidentifiable badges after they approached us, but we became frightened, as they were not in anything close to a uniform," she recalled Thursday in a written account of the April 11 incident.

East Nashville Restaurant Owner Surprised By Raid.  An East Nashville business owner was surprised with a late-night raid when a group of armed officers with bullet proof vests charged into The Family Wash restaurant.  The business opened 11 years ago, and owner Jamie Rubin said he's never received a phone call about his restaurant like he did last Friday night.  "That I better get in because there were more cops than they could count in here," explained Rubin about the phone call.

Cop Backhands Handcuffed Suspect.  This video depicts a suspect in handcuffs, who clearly is not aggressive in any manner.  Apparently, the suspect says something offensive to the officer, which results in him being backhanded across the face.  [Video clip]

Bakersfield Man Dies During Arrest, Eye Witness Video Footage Confiscated.  Kern County Sheriff's deputies were investigating David Sal Silva for public intoxication.  In total, nine officers of the Kern County Sheriff's department and the California Highway Patrol beat Silva to death, as they claimed he resisted arrest.

Vallejo, California: Six Fatal Police Shootings in 2012.  [Scroll down]  Officers then ordered [17-year-old Jared] Huey to raise his hands and stay still.  An officer standing on a step stool then looked over the fence before pointing his rifle over.  At the same moment, a second officer pointed his gun over the fence.  "At this point, decedent [Huey] had his hands up in the air, and yelled, 'Don't shoot!' 'No! No!'" according to the complaint.  The officers then collectively fired their weapons about 10 to 20 times at Huey.

Florida Man Flees Seatbelt Stop on Foot, Cop Runs Him Over and Kills Him.  Shortly after 12:30 a.m. this morning [5/8/2013] a Volusia County Sheriffs deputy saw Marlon Brown driving without a seatbelt, and attempted to pull him over.  When Brown kept driving, the deputy gave up pursuit while reporting a fleeing vehicle.  Almost immediately, reports the Daytona Beach News-Journal, officers with the DeLand Police Department (the county and city share a dispatch system) said they'd spotted the vehicle and began their own pursuit.  What happened next absolutely should not have.

Rochester, NY Police officers Assault Disabled Man in Motorized Wheelchair.  Just when I think the Rochester, NY Police department can't sink any lower, they manage outdo themselves!

Anonymous threatens to take down California police department.  Members of the hacktivist collective Anonymous are demanding that a California police department remove an officer from the force after video has surfaced of the cop in question firing at a civilian 11 times at point-blank range.

In the last few decades, local police departments have begun to use excessive force more and more often.  Sometimes it is in the form of tasering or pepper-spraying people who don't deserve it, but sometimes it is more subtle:  Police cars now have blindingly-bright lights that are intense enough to put on a locomotive or airliner.  This adds to the intimidation when they make a "routine traffic stop" late at night.  The over-use of ridiculously bright lights began in about 1975.

Houston PD Kills Wheelchair-Ridden Schizophrenic Double Amputee 'Armed' With Pen.  The pen may be mightier than the sword, but it's definitely no match for a police officer's service weapon.  The Houston PD demonstrated they'll be perfectly obedient New World Order minions when this past weekend they executed a schizophrenic, wheelchair-ridden double amputee who was apparently threatening to attack officers with a pen.

The Predator State Goes Domestic.  [Scroll down]  A team of deputies tasered the 55-year-old farmer and took him into custody.  His daughter Abby, frantic for the safety of her father, tried to intervene; for "striking" the sanctified personage of a deputy, she was arrested and charged with assault.  When Brossart's wife Susan refused to help the deputies locate what they described as "illegal" firearms, she, too, was arrested and charged with lying to law enforcement officers (who are trained to lie and can do so without legal consequence).

Policeman kills double amputee 'armed' with pen.  A US police officer has shot and killed a one-armed, one-legged man in a wheelchair after the double amputee waved a metal object that turned out to be a pen.

Bail lowered for Robbinsville police officer who attacked child, mom in wheelchair.  After his arrest Sept. 17, [Sgt. Mark] Lee was charged with official misconduct, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of endangering the welfare of a child, five counts of aggravated assault upon a police officer, and one count each of burglary, harassment and criminal mischief.

Cops Strip Search Mom [...] for Maybe Rolling Through Stop Sign.  Getting pulled over for rolling through a stop sign is whack. But getting pulled over, having a gun pointed in your face, and then being strip searched on the side of the road in front of your two children for rolling through a stop sign is, well, really whack and probably an excessive use of force.  At least that's what a new lawsuit in the Sunshine State is claiming.

A Report From Obama's "Humane" Drug War.  At 5:30 a.m. on May 10, armed men broke into the bedroom of Kirk Kyle Farrar's 12 year-old daughter and shook her awake.  The men led her downstairs at gunpoint and forced her to lie on the floor next to her mother and father, with her hands behind her head.  Another armed man took Farrar's two-year-old son from his crib, and would not let his parents hold him.  "My son screamed for his mother for what seemed like an eternity," Farrar wrote in an email to friends, obtained by Reason.  "I will never forget the hopeless feeling of not being able to comfort my son or daughter."  The armed men who broke into Farrar's home were officers with the Meridian, Idaho, Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

SWAT and the Second Amendment.  [Jose] Guerena's wife Vanessa saw armed men in the front yard and woke Jose, who had time only to hide her and their son in a closet as far from the front door as possible and to take up a rifle to meet the unknown threat.  Jose would not take his rifle off safe or fire a shot.  Smashing in the door, five members of the SWAT team fired 71 rounds into the home, shredding it from floor to ceiling and wall to wall.  They hit Jose 22  times and denied him medical care for more than 74 minutes, ensuring his death.

Kelly Thomas video: 'Dad, they are killing me'.  Kelly Thomas repeatedly apologized to Fullerton police officers, saying he was "sorry" as they continued to pummel him with their fists and batons, a dramatic video of the July 5 beating of the homeless man reveals.  The grainy black-and-white video, shown Monday on the first day of a preliminary hearing for two Fullerton police officers charged in the case, shows a shirtless Thomas being repeatedly struck.  He eventually screams:  "Dad, they are killing me."

Doctor: Chest compression led to CA homeless death.  The 37-year-old homeless man died from facial injuries, including blood in his nose, and mechanical compression to his chest that made it difficult for him to breathe and deprived his brain of vital oxygen, said Dr. Aruna Singhana, a forensic pathologist for Orange County.

Thirteen kicks to the head "unjustified".  The monotony of a surveillance camera inside a parking garage is shattered as a man runs into view.  Immediately he's tackled by a second man who punches him in the face.  A third man joins the fray and delivers repeated kicks to his head.  Thirteen to be exact.  An assault?  Without question.  But, despite the video evidence, it's doubtful the assailants will be held accountable.  They wear badges.  Or, wore badges.

California Cop Handcuffs 5 year old and Charges Him with Battery.  Earlier this year, a Stockton student was handcuffed with zip ties on his hands and feet, forced to go to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation and was charged with battery on a police officer.  That student was 5 years old.  Michael Davis is diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD.  His mother says it has led to fights at school.  But when the school district said it had a plan to change Michael's behavior, his mother says things went wrong.

Woman slammed against car by San Jose police officer wins appeal.  [Scroll down] [Laura] Bushell-McIntyre, a pediatric nurse who had just graduated from San Jose State, was attending the fraternity party when police arrived in response to a disturbance call.  The court said she had complied with Officer William Foster's request to leave the house, but touched his badge after repeatedly asking him for his badge number.  Foster then put her in a pain compliance hold and slammed her against a car, the court said.

Retired Police Sergeant Faces 35 Years for Not Producing a Drivers License.  On July 18th, five deputies arrived in three taxpayer funded patrol vehicles to take one nonviolent [65 year old] man to jail, thus carrying out Judge Mackay's 90-day old warrant.  [Raymond] Karczewski offered no resistance, yet his wife reports her husband was rammed up against the side of the house with his head slammed into the siding.  If Karczewski is such a threat to society, why did the criminal justice system wait 90 days to act?  In 90 days Karczewski could have been long gone but was arrested at home.

A Beating in Pittsburgh.  A year after three cops beat an unarmed music student, they are still getting paid to do nothing.

97-year-old handcuffed, jailed for unpaid traffic ticket.  Police say they had no choice but to go by the book when they handcuffed a 97-year-old woman and took her to jail for failing to pay a traffic ticket.

The Editor says...
The police are really saying they have no common sense, no judgement, no latitude or discretion of any kind.  This is the inevitable end product of zero tolerance policies.  Was the arresting officer any safer with this woman handcuffed?  Is Highland Park safer with the old lady under arrest?  Can you just imagine the riots that would have resulted if this had been a black woman?

The Taser's Edge.  Books such as Three Felonies A Day detail the near-impossibility of not violating some state or federal law (inadvertently or not) just by dint of getting out of bed and going about your day.  The country is so thick with Thou Shalt Nots — laws, rules and regulations — that there's almost always a reason for some cop to pester you.  When you get indignant and object, it's open season. ... We are talking about police tasing people — body-slamming them onto the ground and sometimes breaking their teeth off in the process — for things like talking back (or even just talking to themselves...).

To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Officer Pepper Sprays Squirrel At Mesquite School.  Police in Mesquite are reviewing a case involving an officer who pepper sprayed a baby squirrel outside of Kimbrough Middle School.  The incident happened Wednesday [4/6/2011] while several students watched in horror, and caught the situation on camera.

Why Cops Aren't Whistleblowers.  While awarding Barron Bowling $830,000 last September for the beating he suffered at the hands of a Drug Enforcement Administration agent in Kansas City, Kansas, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson went out of her way to acknowledge another victim in the disgraceful affair:  Kansas City police detective Max Seifert.  In January 2003, Bowling was on his way to fill a prescription when Timothy McCue, an on-duty DEA agent, tried to pass him illegally on the right side of a wide one-lane street.  Bowling accelerated to prevent McCue from passing, and the two cars collided.  After the collision, McCue and another agent got out of their car.  McCue drew his gun, threw Bowling to the ground, and beat him to the point of inflicting brain damage.  McCue later justified the violence by saying Bowling "resisted arrest" when he lifted his head from the pavement.

Misconduct charges against two West Palm officers are dropped.  More than three years ago, images of two West Palm Beach police officers kicking and punching a handcuffed suspect flashed across television newscasts, embarrassing city leaders and angering prosecutors who later called the case a "serious misuse of public trust."  The recent dismissal of official misconduct charges against Louis Joseph Schwartz and Kurt Graham, however, came and went with much less fanfare.

Atlanta PD Ignore Lawsuit to Censor Their Misdeeds.  Just this year Atlanta PD was ordered to pay $40,000 settlement to East Atlanta Copwatch activists when their right to film was impeded.  This is the kind of accountability that you get when there's no competition.  Would you visit a grocery store that was known for brutalizing its clients?  Do you want to pay men to beat up other people?  To delete footage of their misdeeds?  To shelter themselves from responsibility through language like "sovereign immunity?"

SWAT Team Meets... Smoking Ban?  [Scroll down]  The police chief denies the charge, and says two of the cops were patrol officers, and two had just finished working a nearby DWI roadblock.  Of course, even if the police chief is right, we've reached the point where are there are places in this country where four cops will come to haul you off in handcuffs... for smoking a cigarette in a bar.

Police video shows officer firing at prone suspect.  In the video, Flint Farmer was lying on the grass between the curb and the sidewalk.  It was shortly before 2 a.m. on a June morning in the West Englewood neighborhood, and Farmer had been shot by a Chicago police officer.  Then, according to the video, the veteran officer, Gildardo Sierra, stepped onto the parkway and walked a semicircle about the prone Farmer as three bright flashes went off.

Elderly woman blasted with pepper spray.  The photo was taken Tuesday evening [11/15/2011] by seattlepi.com photographer Joshua Trujillo at an Occupy Seattle protest at Westlake Park.  The elderly woman featured in the photo was pepper sprayed by police just moments before.  Her name is Dorli Rainey, and she's 84 years old.

Obey the feds or else.  We have a socialist President and an aggressive Administration where disobedience to its new rules will be severly punished.  And, shockingly, such disobedience is already being punished in a park near you.  A single event can beautifully illuminate the darkness ahead.




"Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected.  No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions."

– James Madison        
March 29, 1792         




Anything you have ever said can be used against you

Introduction by The Editor:
The Supreme Court ruled on June 25, 2014, that the police need a warrant to search your cell phone.  The first few articles in this section refer to that decision.  The rest of the articles are older, and may give you an idea of the conditions that led to this appeal all the way to the Supreme Court.

Americans' Cellphones Targeted in Secret U.S. Spy Program.  The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of mobile phones through devices deployed on airplanes that mimic cellphone towers, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging a large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations.

Virginia judge: Police can demand a suspect unlock a phone with a fingerprint.  A Virginia Circuit Court judge ruled on Thursday that a person does not need to provide a passcode to unlock their phone for the police.  The court also ruled that demanding a suspect to provide a fingerprint to unlock a phone would be constitutional.  The ruling calls into question the privacy of some iPhone 5S, 6, and 6 Plus users who have models equipped with TouchID, the fingerprint sensor that allows the user — and ideally only the user — to unlock the phone.

Virginia Police Have Been Secretively Stockpiling Private Phone Records.  The database, which affects unknown numbers of people, contains phone records that at least five police agencies in southeast Virginia have been collecting since 2012 and sharing with one another with little oversight.  Some of the data appears to have been obtained by police from telecoms using only a subpoena, rather than a court order or probable-cause warrant.  Other information in the database comes from mobile phones seized from suspects during an arrest.

Cop charged with stealing nude pics from women's phones.  Prosecutors in Contra Costa County, directly across the bay from San Francisco, have filed criminal felony charges against a former California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer, Sean Harrington, who is accused of seizing and distributing racy photos copied from arrestees' phones.

Florida rules police can't track cellphones without warrant.  Florida's Supreme Court has barred police from track suspects via cellphone signals without a warrant.  "Because cellphones are indispensable to so many people are normally carried on one's person, cellphone tracking can easily invade the right to privacy in on'e home or other private ares," Chief Justice Jorge Labarga wrote Thursday [10/16/2014] in the 5-2 ruling, Reuters reported.

FBI Chief: Citizens Should Be 'Deeply Skeptical' of Government.  [James] Comey, 53, who became FBI chief in September 2013, cautioned that courts must grant law-enforcement agencies permission to telephones if the information is deemed to be critical to a criminal case or national security.  His comments come in light of numerous leaks since last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealing that agency's extensive telephone and Internet surveillance programs and cell phones introduced last month by Apple Inc. that were designed to avoid surveillance by law enforcement.

Government Set Up A Fake Facebook Page In This Woman's Name.  The Justice Department is claiming, in a little-noticed court filing, that a federal agent had the right to impersonate a young woman online by creating a Facebook page in her name without her knowledge.  Government lawyers also are defending the agent's right to scour the woman's seized cell phone and to post photographs — including racy pictures of her and even one of her young son and niece — to the phony social media account, which the agent was using to communicate with suspected criminals.

FBI Questions Apple and Google Over Privacy Features.  The FBI director criticized Apple and Google Thursday [9/25/2014] for adopting new policies that will block police from accessing private data on phones and tablet computers.  Director James Comey told reporters he is "very concerned" that the new features could thwart critical police investigations.  The bureau has contacted both companies to learn more, he said.  "What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law," Comey said, according to a transcript of the conversation provided by the FBI.

FBI blasts Apple, Google for locking police out of phones.  FBI Director James B. Comey sharply criticized Apple and Google on Thursday [9/25/2014] for developing forms of smartphone encryption so secure that law enforcement officials cannot easily gain access to information stored on the devices — even when they have valid search warrants.  His comments were the most forceful yet from a top government official but echo a chorus of denunciation from law enforcement officials nationwide.  Police have said that the ability to search photos, messages and Web histories on smartphones is essential to solving a range of serious crimes, including murder, child pornography and attempted terrorist attacks.

The Editor says...
The FBI director's claims would be more credible if the cops heretofore had been using cell phone searches exclusively against pedophiles and murderers.  My perception is that the cops go fishing in every cell phone they can get their hands on.  (See "You're guilty of something, we just need to figure out what it is.")

I thought he resigned last week.
Holder urges tech companies to leave device backdoors open for police.  Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said on Tuesday that new forms of encryption capable of locking law enforcement officials out of popular electronic devices imperil investigations of kidnappers and sexual predators, putting children at increased risk.

The Editor says...
This appears to be Holder's half-baked logic:  If you don't leave your company's products wide open to police snooping, warrantless or otherwise, then you are abetting criminals.

FBI gags state and local police on capabilities of cellphone spy gear.  The FBI requires state and local police to keep quiet about the capabilities of a controversial type of surveillance gear that allows law enforcement to eavesdrop on cellphone calls and track individual people based on the signals emitted by their mobile devices, according to a bureau document released recently under a Freedom of Information Act request.  The December 2012 document is a heavily redacted letter between the FBI and police in Tacoma, Wash., as the local department sought to acquire an IMSI catcher, sometimes described as a "fake cellphone tower" because it tricks individual phones into routing their calls and other data through the surveillance equipment.

The unintended consequences of unsearchable smartphones.  The idea of these new systems is that once the owner of the phone enters a passcode, there will be no technical way for Apple or Google to get at certain of its data.  They won't be able to answer a search warrant for data on even if they want to.  "It's not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data," Apple's website says.

Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for police.  Apple said Wednesday night [9/17/2014] that it is making it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police — even when they have a search warrant — taking a hard new line as tech companies attempt to blunt allegations that they have too readily participated in government efforts to collect user information.  The move, announced with the publication of a new privacy policy tied to the release of Apple's latest mobile operating system, iOS 8, amounts to an engineering solution to a legal quandary:  Rather than comply with binding court orders, Apple has reworked its latest encryption in a way that prevents the company — or anyone but the device's owner — from gaining access to the vast troves of user data typically stored on smartphones or tablet computers.

Apple: We can't, won't unlock devices for police.  Even cops with a warrant to pull private user data off of someone's fancy new iPhone or iPad might be out of luck — Apple says that with the release of iOS 8, it's now not physically possible for even the company itself to access that info, reports the Washington Post.

Supreme Court: No Cell Phone Searches Without a Warrant.  The Supreme Court just ruled that police officers must obtain a warrant before searching through an arrestee's cell phone.  This unanimous decision has huge implications as 12 million Americans are arrested every single year and most carry cell phones with vast amounts of personal information.  Of course, this issue should be a no brainer.  The Fourth Amendment, which clearly prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, should still apply in today's digital age.  Up until now, however, the law has been unclear about smart phones.

Supreme Court Says Phones Can't Be Searched Without a Warrant.  In a sweeping victory for privacy rights in the digital age, the Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously ruled that the police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest.  While the decision will offer protection to the 12 million people arrested every year, many for minor crimes, its impact will most likely be much broader.  The ruling almost certainly also applies to searches of tablet and laptop computers, and its reasoning may apply to searches of homes and businesses and of information held by third parties like phone companies.

Supreme Court bans warrantless cell phone searches, updates privacy laws.  The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police must obtain warrants before snooping through people's cellphones, delivering a unanimous decision that begins to update legal understanding of privacy rules to accommodate 21st-century technology.  Police agencies argued that searching through data on cellphones was no different from asking someone to turn out his pockets, but the justices rejected that, saying a cellphone holds the most personal and intimate details of someone's life and falls squarely within the Fourth Amendment's privacy protections.

Supreme Court rules cell phones cannot be searched without a warrant.  Police need a warrant to search the cell phone of a person who has been arrested, absent special circumstances, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled Wednesday [6/25/2014].  "Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience.  With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans 'the privacies of life,'" Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.  "The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought.  Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple — get a warrant."

Supreme Court requires warrants for cell phone searches on arrest.  The Supreme Court has decided the cell phone search cases together in Riley v. California, and the result is a big win for digital privacy:  In a unanimous opinion by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court holds that searching a cell phone incident to arrest requires a warrant.  In 1973, the Supreme Court had held in United States v. Robinson that the government can conduct a complete search of the person incident to arrest.  But cell phones present a different situation, the Court rules.

Cellphones Can't Be Searched Without a Warrant, Supreme Court Rules.  In a major statement on privacy rights in the digital age, the Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously ruled that the police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest.  Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the court, said the vast amount of data contained on modern cellphones must be protected from routine inspection.  The old rules, Chief Justice Roberts said, cannot be applied to "modern cellphones, which are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy."

Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Warrantless Cellphone Tracking.  A federal court ruled for the first time that cell phone location data enjoys the same reasonable expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment as other information already included under that provision of the Bill of Rights.  On June 11 the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals held in the case of U.S. v. Davis that although the defendant, Quartavious Davis, will still be subject to nearly the entire 162-year sentence imposed by a lower court, the evidence against him that was obtained from a warrantless search of his cellphone location data was invalid as it violated the rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.  "In short, we hold that cell site location information is within the subscriber's reasonable expectation of privacy.  The obtaining of that data without a warrant is a Fourth Amendment violation," the decision reads.

How the NSA Could Bug Your Powered-Off iPhone, and How to Stop Them.  Just because you turned off your phone doesn't mean the NSA isn't using it to spy on you.  Edward Snowden's latest revelation about the NSA's snooping inspired an extra dose of shock and disbelief when he said the agency's hackers can use a mobile phone as a bug even after it's been turned off.

The Editor says...
You might wonder why I mention the NSA on a web page about "ordinary cops."  But if the NSA has this technology, it won't be long before the technology is passed around, at least to the big city police departments.

How the NSA Can Get Onto Your iPhone.  The Snowden leaks have given security experts a look into the NSA's techniques in a way they could only have previously dreamed about.  But it's often difficult to understand, from their jargon-filled technical specifications pages exactly what the agency is capable of.  We asked security expert Ashkan Soltani to break down the leaked document about the NSA's DROPOUTJEEP program, which describes the agency's ability to infiltrate the Apple iPhone.

Cellphone operator reveals scale of gov't snooping.  Government snooping into phone networks is extensive worldwide, one of the world's largest cellphone companies revealed Friday [6/6/2014], saying that several countries demand direct access to its networks without warrant or prior notice.

NSA Metadata Snooping Challenged.  Metadata is transmission and billing information about whom you called, from what phone number, when, and for how long.  This can include your location, because billing records note which cell tower your mobile phone is connecting through.  George Orwell's book 1984 was meant as a warning.  But it is shocking how many people view 1984 as a "how to" manual or blueprint for expanding their power and influence over the country.  The book projects into the future how society has been heading towards a totalitarian society governed by pervasive government surveillance.

When can cops search cellphones?  The US Supreme Court on Tuesday takes up two cases testing whether the police, after placing someone under arrest, are free to examine the full contents of the arrestee's cellphone without first obtaining a search warrant.  Two statistics illustrate the broad national implications of a ruling by the high court.  [#1] Ninety percent of Americans own a cell phone.  [#2] Roughly 12 million Americans are arrested each year.

Low-level federal judges balking at law enforcement requests for electronic evidence.  Judges at the lowest levels of the federal judiciary are balking at sweeping requests by law enforcement officials for cellphone and other sensitive personal data, declaring the demands overly broad and at odds with basic constitutional rights.  This rising assertiveness by magistrate judges — the worker bees of the federal court system — has produced rulings that elate civil libertarians and frustrate investigators, forcing them to meet or challenge tighter rules for collecting electronic evidence.

Secret military device lets Oakland deputies track cellphones.  Oakland County commissioners asked no questions last March before unanimously approving a cellphone tracking device so powerful it was used by the military to fight terrorists.  Now, though, some privacy advocates question why one of the safest counties in Michigan needs the super-secretive Hailstorm device that is believed to be able to collect large amounts of cellphone data, including the locations of users, by masquerading as a cell tower.  "I don't like not knowing what it's capable of," said county Commissioner Jim Runestad, R-White Lake Township, who has met in recent weeks with sheriff's officials about his concerns.

Cell Providers Collect Millions From Police for Handing Over User Information.  Major U.S. cellphone providers received more than $20 million from law enforcement agencies in conjunction with more than 1.1 million user information requests in 2012, according to documents released Monday [12/9/2013] by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.  Five of the seven companies queried by Markey offered precise or ballpark figures for the revenue they received from law enforcement in 2012.

Obama Asks SCOTUS for Warrantless Cellphone Searches.  Last week, the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to rule that the Fourth Amendment allows for warrant-less cell phone searches.  The administration filed a petition asking the SCOTUS to hear a 2007 case in which information was retrieved from a cell phone that was used to obtain evidence against the defendant.

Obama administration asks Supreme Court to allow warrantless cellphone searches.  In 2007, the police arrested a Massachusetts man who appeared to be selling crack cocaine from his car.  The cops seized his cellphone and noticed that it was receiving calls from "My House."  They opened the phone to determine the number for "My House."  That led them to the man's home, where the police found drugs, cash and guns.  The defendant was convicted, but on appeal he argued that accessing the information on his cellphone without a warrant violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

Warrantless Cellphone Tracking Is Upheld.  In a significant victory for law enforcement, a federal appeals court on Tuesday said that government authorities could extract historical location data directly from telecommunications carriers without a search warrant.  The closely watched case, in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, is the first ruling that squarely addresses the constitutionality of warrantless searches of historical location data stored by cellphone service providers.

NY troopers in big SUVs peer in on texting drivers.  New York has given state police 32 tall, unmarked SUVs to better peer down at drivers' hands, part of one of the nation's most aggressive attacks on texting while driving that also includes steeper penalties and dozens of highway "Texting Zones," where motorists can pull over to use their devices.

Blond beauty set to sue NYPD over sexy photos swiped from iPhone.  A Long Island beauty says NYPD cops seized her iPhone and that one of them stole sexually explicit photos and videos meant for her boyfriend's eyes only.  Pamela Held, 27, of Deer Park, is poised to sue the city and the Police Department, accusing a cop of invading her privacy by forwarding the provocative images from her iPhone.  The steamy images of Held were sent to a personal cell phone that her lawyer said belongs to Officer Sean Christian.

Cops usually need warrant to get cellphone locations, NJ Supreme Court rules in Middletown case.  The state Supreme Court has ruled that police need a warrant to get cellphone location data in most cases.  With Thursday's [7/18/2013] ruling, the court overturned an appellate decision, which said that a defendant in a Middletown burglary case did not have an expectation that the location information would be private.

The federal government spies on everyone, even if the local cops don't.
Atty. In Fla. Robbery Case Seeks NSA Phone Records.  The lawyer for a man on trial in a South Florida armored car robbery is seeking cellphone records possibly produced by a recently revealed National Security Agency surveillance program, according to federal court documents.

More about domestic surveillance.

Cops: U.S. law should require logs of your text messages.  AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and other wireless providers would be required to capture and store Americans' confidential text messages, according to a proposal that will be presented to a congressional panel today [3/19/2013].  The law enforcement proposal would require wireless providers to record and store customers' SMS messages — a controversial idea akin to requiring them to surreptitiously record audio of their customers' phone calls — in case police decide to obtain them at some point in the future.

How Many Millions of Cellphones Are Police Watching?  In response to a congressional inquiry, mobile phone companies on Monday finally disclosed just how many times they've handed over users' cellphone data to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.  By the New York Times' count, cellphone companies responded to 1.3 million demands for subscribers' information last year from law enforcement.  Many of the records, such as location data, don't require search warrants or much court oversight.  Both police and cell service providers had long resisted releasing details on the scope of cellphone surveillance.

City Is Amassing Trove of Cellphone Logs.  When a cellphone is reported stolen in New York, the Police Department routinely subpoenas the phone's call records, from the day of the theft onward.  The logic is simple:  If a thief uses the phone, a list of incoming and outgoing calls could lead to the suspect.  But in the process, the Police Department has quietly amassed a trove of telephone logs, all obtained without a court order, that could conceivably be used for any investigative purpose.

Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail without warrants.  A proposed law scheduled for a vote next week originally increased Americans' e-mail privacy.  Then law enforcement complained.  Now it increases government access to e-mail and other digital files.

The Editor says...
Cops are notorious for claiming, "We don't write the laws, we just enforce them."  Such claims are completely untrue, as we see in this case:  The cops tell the state legislators what kind of laws they want, and the politicians put it in writing.

Update:
Leahy scuttles his warrantless e-mail surveillance bill.  After public criticism of proposal that lets government agencies warrantlessly access Americans' e-mail, Sen. Patrick Leahy says he will "not support" such an idea at next week's vote.

Judge Protects Cellphone Data On 4th Amendment Grounds, Cites Government's Technological Ignorance.  The feds, along with Los Angeles law enforcement agencies, have bypassed the protections of the Fourth Amendment by deploying roving cell phone trackers that mimic mobile phone towers.  The FISA Amendments Act has been used as a "blank check" for wholesale spying on Americans and has been abused often enough that the Director of National Intelligence was forced to admit these Fourth Amendment violations publicly.

If you carry a cell phone everywhere you go, it can yield a lot of evidence about your whereabouts and the contents of your text messages, emails, and phone calling history.  More and more, the police are acting as if all that information is theirs for the taking.

18 Signs That Life In U.S. Public Schools Is Now Essentially Equivalent To Life In U.S. Prisons.  The following are 18 signs that life in our public schools is now very similar to life in our prisons.... [For example,] #1  Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has announced that school officials can search the cell phones and laptops of public school students if there are "reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will turn up evidence that the student has violated or is violating either the law or the rules of the school."

Finally, A Bill Requires Police Get A Judge's Approval Before They Can See Your Texts Or Location.  A month ago, we learned that more (and maybe many, many more) than 1.3 million people's cell phone data were handed over to US law enforcement agencies in 2011 alone.  Text messages, caller locations, and records of who called whom and for how long had all been shared without a judges' approval — because, according to current law, no approval is needed.  Last week, the Congressman who helped reveal how rampant and unregulated that sharing is introduced legislation to start restraining it.

How Many Millions of Cellphones Are Police Watching?  In response to a congressional inquiry, mobile phone companies on Monday [7/9/2012] finally disclosed just how many times they've handed over users' cellphone data to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.  By the New York Times' count, cellphone companies responded to 1.3 million demands for subscribers' information last year from law enforcement.  Many of the records, such as location data, don't require search warrants or much court oversight.  Both police and cell service providers had long resisted releasing details on the scope of cellphone surveillance.  But the new disclosures from cellphone companies still leave a slew of unanswered questions.

More Demands on Cell Carriers in Surveillance.  In the first public accounting of its kind, cellphone carriers reported that they responded to a startling 1.3 million demands for subscriber information last year from law enforcement agencies seeking text messages, caller locations and other information in the course of investigations.

Is US government reading email without a warrant? It doesn't want to talk about it.  After issuing hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests, the ACLU learned that many local police departments around the country routinely pay mobile phone network operators a small fee to get detailed records of historic cell phone location information.  The data tell cops not just where a suspect might have been at a given moment, but also create the possibility of retracing someone's whereabouts for months.

The Most Powerful, Well Connected Company You've Never Heard Of.  Have you ever heard of a tech company called Neustar?  Probably not, and that's just the way the government wants to keep it.  Neustar is a relatively new company that is playing a large, albeit secret, role in the expansion of the surveillance state.  According to published reports, Neustar handles the law enforcement surveillance and user data requests for over 400 telecommunications companies.  To accommodate their clients' demands, Neustar maintains a database containing information on every cell phone in the United States — including yours.

Feds Sue Telecom for Fighting Warrantless Search.  The Justice Department is suing a telecommunications company for challenging a request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation for customer information — despite the fact that the law authorizing the request explicitly permits such challenges. [...] Clearly the Justice Department is unaccustomed to having to defend its attempts to obtain customer data on its own say-so; and it isn't taking this fight lying down.

Covert FBI Power to Obtain Phone Data Faces Rare Test.  Early last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation sent a secret letter to a phone company demanding that it turn over customer records for an investigation.  The phone company then did something almost unheard of:  It fought the letter in court.  The U.S. Department of Justice fired back with a serious accusation.  It filed a civil complaint claiming that the company, by not handing over its files, was interfering "with the United States' sovereign interests" in national security.  The legal clash represents a rare and significant test of an investigative tool strengthened by the USA Patriot Act, the counterterrorism law enacted after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Twitter data raises question: Who's following you? Maybe police.  Everything is evidence.  You might want to remember that the next time you log on.  According to new data released by Twitter on Monday [7/2/2012], American police are leading the charge to get users' info from the popular San Francisco-based microblogging service.  Overall, from Jan. 1 through June,  the company received 849 law enforcement requests for individual users' information, granting 63% of those requests.  American law enforcement accounted for 80% of those information requests compared to other nations, just as Americans are thought to make up a dominant share of the service's users.  U.S. officials made 679 requests, getting what they wanted 75% of the time.

Justice Dept. Wants to Track All Cellphones Without a Warrant.  In its relentless never-ending quest for more power to track and follow American citizens through their cellphones, the Department of Justice (DoJ) requested last week that Congress give them easier access to location data stored by cellphone service providers. [...] In other words, because the laws protecting privacy vary somewhat depending upon where an individual citizen lives, Congress should come along and override them all and provide a federal, looser standard, all in the name of security.

Obama DOJ Wants Greater Power to Access Cellphone Records.  Barack Obama's Justice Department is requesting that access to cellphone records be made more available to the government.  Jason Weinstein, a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's criminal division, asserted that warrants for early stages of investigations "crippled" prosecutors and law enforcement officials and thus should be abolished.

Your Tweets Can Be Subpoenaed.  Prosecutors don't have to get a warrant to subpoena your tweets, even if you delete them, because they're public information owned by a third party, a New York judge ruled on Monday [4/23/2012].

Police Are Using Phone Tracking as a Routine Tool.  Law enforcement tracking of cellphones, once the province mainly of federal agents, has become a powerful and widely used surveillance tool for local police officials, with hundreds of departments, large and small, often using it aggressively with little or no court oversight, documents show.  The practice has become big business for cellphone companies, too, with a handful of carriers marketing a catalog of "surveillance fees" to police departments to determine a suspect's location, trace phone calls and texts or provide other services.

Obama wants to track you.  Under federal law, even the most basic cellphone must collect location information so that 911 services can respond appropriately.  The Obama administration wants the ability to seize this data for its own purposes.  Last month, the Justice Department filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit insisting the government had the right to gather 60 days' worth of tracking information from a cellphone without a warrant issued on probable cause.

Court Ruling Opens Phones To Warrantless Searches.  Cell phone users might think that their phones can't be searched without a warrant any more than their homes can be.  But one judge just gave cops engaging in warrantless cell phone searches a foot in the door.  Judge Richard Posner of the seventh circuit court of appeals ruled Wednesday [2/29/2012] that the question of cell phone searches isn't whether law enforcement can open a phone and start snooping on its information without a warrant, but only how deep their warrantless search can go.

Student cellphones confiscated in school's probe of drug selling.  Stevenson High School in north suburban Lincolnshire is in the midst of a drug investigation that has relied on confiscated student cellphones to identify suspects, a school spokesman said today.  Jim Conrey said school officials have looked at the phones' text messages to assist in their investigation into drug sales on campus.

Judge OKs warrantless tracking of suspect's cellphone.  Investigators seeking the location history of an armed robbery suspect's cellphone aren't required to obtain a search warrant before compelling the carrier to turn over the information, a federal judge has ruled.  The decision, issued by US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the District of Columbia, said the Stored Communications Act doesn't require investigators to get a warrant based on probable cause to access the suspect's location history pulled from cellphone towers.

California Governor Veto Allows Warrantless Cellphone Searches.  California Gov. Jerry Brown is vetoing legislation requiring police to obtain a court warrant to search the mobile phones of suspects at the time of any arrest.  The Sunday [10/9/2011] veto means that when police arrest anybody in the Golden State, they may search that person's mobile phone — which in the digital age likely means the contents of persons' e-mail, call records, text messages, photos, banking activity, cloud-storage services, and even where the phone has traveled.

Wireless Technology:  They'll Know Where You AreUnder the so-called Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (CALEA) police are given the authority to track the locations of any cell phone users even if they're not dialing 911.

Digital Bread Crumbs:  Following Your Cell Phone Trail.  Cell phones leave a data trail, and it is becoming standard operating procedure for police departments and federal agents to use this data to locate and track people.

Police push for warrantless searches of cell phones.  This is an important legal question that remains unresolved:  as our gadgets store more and more information about us, including our appointments, correspondence, and personal photos and videos, what rules should police investigators be required to follow?  The Obama administration and many local prosecutors' answer is that warrantless searches are perfectly constitutional during arrests.

Software Turns Your Cell Phone Against You.  Malicious software for cell phones could pose a greater risk for consumer's personal and financial well-being than computer viruses, say scientists from Rutgers University.  The scientists have made a particularly resilient malware, known as a rootkit, that can turn a cell phone's microphone, GPS and battery against the phone's owner.

The Editor says...
That's odd.  Up until now, anyone who developed a rootkit was called a hacker by the mainstream news media.  Why, in this case, are they being called scientists?

Cops' Easy Access to Suspects' iPhone Info Raises Privacy Concerns.  Those who think an iPhone is only for saving address book entries may be surprised to learn police are using the devices' saved data caches to catch criminals.  Global Positioning Satellite technology on the phone enables police to pinpoint precise locations and compare that information with statements made by suspects.

Court OKs searches of cell phones without warrant.  The California Supreme Court allowed police Monday [1/3/2011] to search arrestees' cell phones without a warrant, saying defendants lose their privacy rights for any items they're carrying when taken into custody.  Under U.S. Supreme Court precedents, "this loss of privacy allows police not only to seize anything of importance they find on the arrestee's body ... but also to open and examine what they find," the state court said in a 5-2 ruling.

Video: How to Cop Proof Your Cell Phone.

Michigan cops imposing a digital police state.  Michigan State Police are accused of stealing driver's cell phone data on routine traffic stops.  Michigan has become a digital police state.  And if people in Michigan just stand by and let this digital totalitarian [nonsense] continue, it will probably come to your state too.  We are a nation of copycats after all, governments in the United States like to take other people's ideas to control people and make them their own.

Should Cops Be Allowed to Scan Your Phone During a Traffic Stop?  According to an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) letter to the director of the Michigan State Police on April 13, that department has several forensic cellphone analyzers deployed in the field.  Forensic analyzers are routinely used in police investigations to recover data from computers and other digital devices.  Lately, cellphones have become valuable sources of evidence for police, since one phone can include almost all of an individual's private communications (SMS, recently dialed numbers, email, Facebook and Twitter posts) as well as location data from the device's GPS unit.

Should a Speeding Ticket Require Forfeiting Your Smartphone Data?  Whatever ever happened to the good ol' days where getting pulled over just meant you would get a speeding ticket, or if you're lucky, just a warning?  Well, if it's up to the Michigan State Police, those days are not only long gone, but a speeding ticket is now reason enough to harvest all the information possible on you, including all of your e-mail, social networking, texting, personal photos, and virtually anything else you might have on your cell phone, or in many cases, your smartphone.

Michigan cops imposing a digital police state.  Michigan State Police are accused of stealing driver's cell phone data on routine traffic stops.  Michigan has become a digital police state.  And if people in Michigan just stand by and let this digital totalitarian [nonsense] continue, it will probably come to your state too.  We are a nation of copycats after all, governments in the United States like to take other people's ideas to control people and make them their own.

Should Cops Be Allowed to Scan Your Phone During a Traffic Stop?  According to an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) letter to the director of the Michigan State Police on April 13, that department has several forensic cellphone analyzers deployed in the field.  Forensic analyzers are routinely used in police investigations to recover data from computers and other digital devices.  Lately, cellphones have become valuable sources of evidence for police, since one phone can include almost all of an individual's private communications (SMS, recently dialed numbers, email, Facebook and Twitter posts) as well as location data from the device's GPS unit.

Law enforcement to begin iPhone iris scans amid privacy concerns.  Dozens of police departments nationwide are gearing up to use a tech company's already controversial iris- and facial-scanning device that slides over an iPhone and helps identify a person or track criminal suspects.

Big Brother on Your Tail.  Suppose I approached you with a request.  I want you to carry a small gadget that will automatically transmit your location to the police, allowing them to track your every movement 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Chances are you would politely decline.  Too late.  You already accepted.  That gadget, you see, is called a cell phone.  For years, the cops may have been using it to keep close tabs on you without your knowledge, even if you have done nothing wrong.

NYPD tracking cell phone owners, but foes aren't sure practice is legal.  The NYPD is amassing a database of cell phone users, instructing cops to log serial numbers from suspects' phones in hopes of connecting them to past or future crimes.  In the era of disposable, anonymous cell phones, the file could be a treasure-trove for detectives investigating drug rings and other criminal enterprises, police sources say.  "It's used to help build cases," one source said of the new initiative.

NYPD Tracking Phones and Owners.  The capacity for tracking information is expanding so rapidly, it is truly breathtaking.  The ability to correlate the numbers that make up so much of our lives is giving rise to dangerous threats to our right to live our own lives in peace.  Suffice to say, the police gathering one more piece of personal information without our consent, and allegedly in the absence of the accusation of, let alone conviction for, a crime, makes all those affected a little less free.

Cops love iPhone data trail.  Detective Josh Fazio of the Will County Sheriff's Department loves it when an iPhone turns up as evidence in a criminal case.  The sophisticated cell phone and mobile computer is becoming as popular with police as it is with consumers because it can provide investigators with so much information that can help in solving crimes.

How Long Does Your Wireless Carrier Retain Texts, Call Logs?  According to data gathered by the Department of Justice, it can be as little as a few days or up to seven years, depending on your provider.  AT&T, for example, retains information about who you are texting for five to seven years.  T-Mobile keeps the same data for five years, Sprint keeps it for 18 months, and Verizon retains it for one year.  Verizon is the only one of the top four carriers that retains text message content, however, and it keeps that for three to five days.

Which Telecoms Store Your Data the Longest? Secret Memo Tells All.  The single-page Department of Justice document, "Retention Periods of Major Cellular Service Providers," is a guide for law enforcement agencies looking to get information — like customer IP addresses, call logs, text messages and web surfing habits — out of U.S. telecom companies, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.  The document, marked "Law Enforcement Use Only" and dated August 2010, illustrates there are some significant differences in how long carriers retain your data. ... The document was unearthed by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina via a Freedom of Information Act claim.

Feds push for tracking cell phones.  Even though police are tapping into the locations of mobile phones thousands of times a year, the legal ground rules remain unclear, and federal privacy laws written a generation ago are ambiguous at best.

Are the Police Digging into Your Phone Records?  The National Security Agency may not be the only one looking at your phone records.  As the agency's controversial program of collecting Americans' calling data continues to draw heat, new questions have emerged about whether federal and local law enforcement officials are possibly skirting privacy laws by obtaining phone records from companies that get the information in a questionable manner and then hawk it over the Internet.

How the Police Get Your Phone Records:  Every time I receive a call, my cell carrier takes note of the incoming telephone number, the time, date and duration of the conversation, and — because the call is sent through a network of cell towers — my location.  As it turns out, I'm also carrying the right kind of smart phone, which means my device itself jots down my spot on the earth, as well.  Between the brick and carrier, I've amassed a strikingly detailed digital portrait of every chat, check in, text and voice message I've received and sent.  And since the diary of events is not in my possession, it's possible that others could get access.

The Snitch in Your Pocket.  Amid all the furor over the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program a few years ago, a mini-revolt was brewing over another type of federal snooping that was getting no public attention at all.  Federal prosecutors were seeking what seemed to be unusually sensitive records:  internal data from telecommunications companies that showed the locations of their customers' cell phones — sometimes in real time, sometimes after the fact.

Should Police Know Your Every Move, Thanks to Your Cell Phone?  Cell phones have become ubiquitous in America, but people rarely think about the complex systems that make them work: how our phones connect with cellular towers to send and receive signals, and how the towers "hand off" our call to the next tower as we move around town.  But law enforcement agents think about these things.  In fact, police officers can obtain a great deal of information about our locations and our movement, just from our cell phone records.

Michigan: Police Search Cell Phones During Traffic Stops.  The Michigan State Police have a high-tech mobile forensics device that can be used to extract information from cell phones belonging to motorists stopped for minor traffic violations.  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan last Wednesday [4/13/2011] demanded that state officials stop stonewalling freedom of information requests for information on the program.

It's Tracking Your Every Move and You May Not Even Know.  A favorite pastime of Internet users is to share their location:  services like Google Latitude can inform friends when you are nearby; another, Foursquare, has turned reporting these updates into a game.  But as a German Green party politician, Malte Spitz, recently learned, we are already continually being tracked whether we volunteer to be or not.  Cellphone companies do not typically divulge how much information they collect, so Mr. Spitz went to court to find out exactly what his cellphone company, Deutsche Telekom, knew about his whereabouts.  The results were astounding.

Michigan Cops Can Now Steal Your Cell Phone Data — 'Without the Owner Knowing'.  It's a scary scenario.  You're driving down the road and get pulled over by a state patrolman.  After checking your license and registration, the officer asks for your cell phone, and then uses a futuristic machine to download all your data.  In Michigan, it's happening.

List reveals keywords feds monitor on Facebook, Twitter.  Have you ever wondered if the government — or more specifically, the Department of Homeland Security — is monitoring your Twitter or Facebook posts?  If the answer's "yes," give yourself a pat on the back because you're right and not simply paranoid.  There's even a list of keywords for which subcontractors hired by the DHS check social networks. Words like Cyber Command, 2600, spammer, phishing, rootkit, phreaking, dransp, dirty bomb, enriched, nuclear, chemical weapon, biological weapon, ammonium nitrate

EPIC Obtains New Documents on DHS Media Monitoring, Urges Congress to Suspend Program.  EPIC has submitted a letter to Congress following a hearing on DHS monitoring of social networks and media organizations.  In the letter, EPIC highlights new documents obtained as a result of a FOIA lawsuit and points out to inconsistencies in DHS' testimony about the program.  Though DHS testified that it does not monitor for public reaction to government proposals, the documents obtained by EPIC indicate that the DHS analysts are specifically instructed to look for criticism of the agency and then to redirect reports that would otherwise be circulated to other agencies.

FBI Pursues Social Media Surveillance to Gather Intelligence.  In a formal "request for information," the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asked software companies for a digital tool that would systematically scan the entire social media realm to find potential terrorist-related threats and intelligence information.  While hundreds of intelligence analysts are already probing overseas Facebook and Twitter posts, U.S. law enforcement officials claim digital software could sift through more data than humans ever could.

The Department of Homeland Security Is Searching Your Facebook and Twitter for These Words.  The Department of Homeland Security monitors your updates on social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, to uncover "Items Of Interest" (IOI), according to an internal DHS document released by the EPIC.  That document happens to include a list of the baseline terms for which the DHS — or more specifically, a DHS subcontractor hired to monitor social networks — use to generate real-time IOI reports.

That's what Carnivore was all about.

Cellphones or trackers? Debate hasn't kept pace with technology.  [Kelsey] Smith's death led Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to sign a bill compelling cellular service providers to provide phone information for missing people in danger.  But in recent years, as phones have taken on the roles of navigator, assistant, researcher and memory box, they've become pipelines to vast reserves of personal information easily derricked out by government investigators.  Those investigators' powers have been little debated — publicly, at least — and even less understood.  Further, phones are still thought of as essentially private devices.  That could be about to change.

That's No Phone. That's My Tracker.  The device in your purse or jeans that you think is a cellphone — guess again.  It is a tracking device that happens to make calls.  Let's stop calling them phones.  They are trackers.  Most doubts about the principal function of these devices were erased when it was disclosed Monday [7/9/2012] that cellphone carriers responded 1.3 million times last year to law enforcement requests for call data.

The Results from ACLU's Nationwide Cell Phone Tracking Records Requests.  If you're living in one of the places where local law enforcement agents reported tracking cell phones, or for that matter anywhere else in the country, you might be wondering under what circumstances your law enforcement agents are getting access to cell phone location information.  Given the intimate nature of location information, the government should have to obtain a warrant based upon probable cause to track cell phones.  That is what is necessary to protect Americans' privacy, and it is also what is required under the constitution.  But is that what the police do?

Police requesting Americans' cellphone data at staggering rate.  Police are monitoring Americans' cellphone use at a staggering rate, according to new information released in a congressional inquiry.  In letters released by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), cellphone companies described seeing a huge uptick in requests from law enforcement agencies, with 1.3 million federal, state and local requests for phone records in 2011 alone.  "We cannot allow privacy protections to be swept aside with the sweeping nature of these information requests, especially for innocent consumers," Markey said in a statement Monday [7/9/2012].

Landmark California Location-Privacy Bill Nears Governor's Desk.  California lawmakers have approved legislation that would require the state's authorities to get a probable-cause warrant signed by a judge to obtain location information from electronic devices such as tablets, mobile phones to laptops.  The measure, sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), passed the Senate in May and the Assembly approved the plan late Wednesday [8/22/2012].

Ninth Circuit OKs Feds Use of Cellphone as Roving Bugs.  The Ninth Circuit of Appeals ruled on July 20 that agents of the federal government may use a cellphone as a microphone and record the conversations overheard even when the phone itself is not being used otherwise. [...] There are, of course, far reaching implications of such a decision.  As we reported recently, a person will not know, and perhaps will never know, if he has been the target of surveillance on the part of the federal government.  Assuming, as many a savvy American would, that the federal government is liable to eventually want to monitor and record your personal electronic communication, is there not an expectation that when the cellphone is off the surveillance is suspended?  Not anymore.  In the wake of the Ninth Circuit's ruling in Oliva, "roving bugs" are likely to become a favorite weapon in the ever expanding arsenal of the surveillance state.

In Cell Phone Privacy Case, Government's Arguing a Theory of the Fourth Amendment 'That No One's Ever Heard Of'.  A federal appeals court in New Orleans is set to hear a case on whether the government can take possession of an individual's cell phone records from their carrier without a search warrant.  A federal court has already denied the government's bid to obtain the records without a warrant.  Judge Andrew Napolitano weighed in on Fox Business Network this morning [10/1/2012], saying the government's argument represents a new theory of the Fourth Amendment "that no one's ever heard of in 230 years."

In this case, the victim's cell phone showed the police where he was murdered.
iPhone GPS led investigators to suspects in killing of Washington & Jefferson football player.  [Scroll down]  Police reported little movement in the case since then, although they were busy tracking leads, including a GPS trail left by Mr. McNerney's iPhone, which was stolen from him that night, along with his wallet.  While police are keeping details of the case close to the vest, they said they were led to the suspects through the phone's GPS system, which indicated that the phone was near the Houston Street home of Mr. Hankins and the McDonald house where Mr. Wells was staying at the time.

This is an original compilation, Copyright © 2014 by Andrew K. Dart



Stingray and Dirtbox

Stingray:

'Stingray' Phone Tracker Fuels Constitutional Clash.  Stingrays are designed to locate a mobile phone even when it's not being used to make a call.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation considers the devices to be so critical that it has a policy of deleting the data gathered in their use, mainly to keep suspects in the dark about their capabilities, an FBI official told The Wall Street Journal in response to inquiries.

Cellphone data spying: It's not just the NSA.  Local police are increasingly able to scoop up large amounts of cellphone data using new technologies, including cell tower dumps and secret mobile devices known as Stingrays.

Data Spying in the States: Public Safety or Invasion of Privacy?  Last month, USA Today reported that at least 125 police agencies in 33 states have used a variety of spy-worthy tactics and technologies to obtain information about thousands of cell phones and their users.  The newspaper's investigation found that one in four law enforcement agencies use a tactic known as a "tower dump" to get the identity, activity and location information of any cell phone that connects with a particular cell tower in a specific timespan.  Additionally, 25 law enforcement agencies used federal grants to purchase a piece of equipment developed for military and intelligence gathering purposes known as a "Stingray," which mimics a cell tower, allows police to track the movements of a specific cell phone and captures data from a cell phone, such as the phone numbers dialed and text messages received.

Police Keep Quiet About Cell-Tracking Technology.  Police across the country may be intercepting phone calls or text messages to find suspects using a technology tool known as Stingray.  But they're refusing to turn over details about its use or heavily censoring files when they do.

Pricey 'stingray' gadget lets cops track cellphones without telco help.  Why would the well-heeled suburb of Gilbert, Ariz., spend a quarter of a million dollars on a futuristic spy gadget that sounds more at home in a prime-time drama than a local police department?  The ACLU caused a stir Monday [4/2/2012] with its extensive report of cellphone surveillance by local police departments, which routinely request location information and other data from cellphone providers, often under vague legal circumstances.  But one bit of information provided by Gilbert officials suggests that cops sometimes try to cut out the middle man.

Has the Dept. of Homeland Security become America's standing army?  Distributed to local police agencies as a result of grants from the DHS, these Stingray devices enable police to track individuals' cell phones — and their owners — without a court warrant or court order.  The amount of information conveyed by these devices about one's activities, whereabouts and interactions is considerable.  As one attorney explained:  "Because we carry our cellphones with us virtually everywhere we go, stingrays can paint a precise picture of where we are and who we spend time with, including our location in a lover's house, in a psychologist's office or at a political protest."

U.S. Marshals Seize Cops' Spying Records to Keep Them From the ACLU.  Stingrays, also known as IMSI catchers, simulate a cellphone tower and trick nearby mobile devices into connecting with them, thereby revealing their location.  A stingray can see and record a device's unique ID number and traffic data, as well as information that points to its location.  By moving a stingray around, authorities can triangulate a device's location with greater precision than is possible using data obtained from a carrier's fixed tower location.  The records sought by the ACLU are important because the organization has learned that a Florida police detective obtained permission to use a stingray simply by filing an application with the court under Florida's "trap and trace" statute instead of obtaining a probable-cause warrant.

Why Are the US Marshals at the Center of All These Pen Registers?  [Scroll down]  While we don't yet know how many of the 9,000 requests the Marshals made in 2012 were for location data, the coincidence is mighty interesting.  The Marshals do have cause to search for suspects' location.  They claim they arrest over 300 wanted fugitives a day.  That's where stingrays would be particularly useful, as they would help to identify the location of a known suspect.  So how often are the Marshals using stingrays to do their work?  And to what degree do they do so hiding behind even more obscure local pen register laws to do so?


Dirtbox:

Operation Dirtbox.  The public reaction to Snowden and its political reflection were interesting for what they mean about America and what it portends.  Much of the public political conversation was immediately negative, with commentators, news readers, and professional politicians of both major parties attacking him as a traitor.  Democratic members of congress were no better than their Republican counterparts.  Liberal luminaries such as Al Franken tried to pacify dissenters by saying that the NSA was only acting to protect us, and Hillary Clinton lectured the fugitive about 'coming back to face the music.'  President Obama was on television, uncharacteristically awkward in reassuring the country that the NSA "isn't listening to your phone calls," which he knew to be false.  Politicians are in some ways just like everyone else:  they are uncomfortable with anything which might inconvenience them or even cost them their jobs.

Operation Dirtbox.  On Friday [11/14/2014], the Denver Post and other papers ran the story that the Justice Department is directing a massive spy operation which can suck up close to every cell phone communication in America.  They've done this by installing fake communications towers on a fleet of Cessnas, beginning in 2007.  Devices known as 'dirtboxes,' from the initials DRT of the Boeing unit which produces them, mimic cell towers of large telecom firms and trick cellphones into reporting their unique registration information.  Investigators can harvest data from tens of thousands of calls in a single flight.  The planes are said to cover most of the country.  According to the Post article by Devlin Barrett, "people with knowledge of the program wouldn't discuss the frequency or duration of such flights, but said they take place on a regular basis."

Dirtbox Devices: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.  Americans are outraged by news of "dirtbox devices."  Under this Justice Department program, planes are scanning the cell phones of ordinary Americans.  While this program is designed to capture fugitives and criminals, many Americans feel that these dirtbox devices are an invasion of privacy.  Here's what you need to know about the dirtbox device program.

'Dirtbox' planes masquerade as cell towers to collect smartphone data in sophisticated spying ops.  It's no secret anymore that governmental agencies in the U.S. and other countries have access to sophisticated tools that allow them to track and collect data from smartphones and other devices without users knowing anything is happening, and The Wall Street Journal has uncovered yet another such operation which uses a special "dirtbox" technology installed in special planes that can mimic cell phone towers and fool smartphones into believing they're connecting to a genuine carrier tower.

US government planes collecting phone data, report claims.  Devices that gather data from millions of mobile phones are being flown over the US by the government, according to the Wall Street Journal.  The "dirtbox" devices mimic mobile phone tower transmissions, and handsets transmit back their location and unique identity data, the report claims.  While they are used to track specific suspects, all mobile devices in the area will respond to the signal.  The US Justice Department refused to confirm or deny the report.

Americans' Cellphones Targeted in Secret U.S. Spy Program.  The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of mobile phones through devices deployed on airplanes that mimic cellphone towers, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging a large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations.




Laptop computer searches and seizures

Most of this happens at airports and border crossings, but if it isn't vigorously challenged in the courts, it will spread to the rest of the country.

Protecting Yourself From Suspicionless Searches While Traveling:  The Ninth Circuit's recent ruling in United States v. Arnold allows border patrol agents to search your laptop or other digital device without limitation when you are entering the country.  EFF and many civil liberties, travelers' rights, immigration advocacy and professional organizations are concerned that unfettered laptop searches endanger trade secrets, attorney-client communications, and other private information.

The Editor says...
If the act of traveling on an airplane entitles Big Brother to sift through your laptop or other electronic device looking for whatever he can find, then it won't be long before Big Brother presumes to have your consent when you travel on Amtrak or Greyhound.  Or, eventually, a toll road or an Interstate highway.  These incremental changes only go in one direction.

Public Pressure Mounts Against Invasive Border Searches.  Random, invasive laptop searches and other digital privacy violations at the U.S. border are facing increasing pressure from the public and Congress.  One of the big complaints EFF and others have had is the lack of information and accountability about the intrusive examination of computer files, cell phone directories, and other private information — and the indiscriminate copying of that data — as Americans come back home from overseas.

Unsuspected travelers' laptops may be detained at border.  This rings all alarm bells (also, the words 'police state' come to mind).  I think that anyone who is considering traveling to the US should think twice before doing so.  I wonder what would happen to anyone who has the 'wrong' combination of digital data and paperwork on him ...

Now They'll Take Your Laptop.  [Scroll down slowly]  Being "randomly" wanded and frisked at an airport-security checkpoint is bad enough, but at least the inconvenience is brief.  But the new seizure policy essentially keeps law-abiding business travelers, with their entire professional lives on laptops, hostage to a government agency and prevents them from doing their jobs -- again, all without a hint of probable cause.  That's more than an annoyance:  It's official theft of your ability to make a living.

Securing the Border Against Creepy Pictures on Some Guy's Laptop.  As I noted in a column last year, DHS is not looking for bombs in those laptops; it is looking for incriminating files, and the charges that flow from the searches typically have nothing to do with terrorism, contrary to Napolitano's implication.

It sounds like the Bill of Rights is taking a beating.

Bush-Era Policy Kept To Search Travelers.  The Obama administration will largely preserve Bush-era procedures allowing the government to search — without suspicion of wrongdoing — the contents of a traveler's laptop computer, cellphone or other electronic device, although officials said new policies would expand oversight of such inspections.  The policy, disclosed Thursday [8/27/2009] in a pair of Department of Homeland Security directives...

My laptop is password protected, so I have nothing to worry about... right?
DOJ: We can force you to decrypt that laptop.  The Colorado prosecution of a woman accused of a mortgage scam will test whether the government can punish you for refusing to disclose your encryption passphrase.  The Obama administration has asked a federal judge to order the defendant, Ramona Fricosu, to decrypt an encrypted laptop that police found in her bedroom during a raid of her home.  Because Fricosu has opposed the proposal, this could turn into a precedent-setting case.

If Cops Don't Know What You Encrypted, They Can't Make You Decrypt It.  The last 24 hours [2/24/2012] have produced two opposite rulings about whether suspects in legal cases have to cough up the password to potentially incriminating data that they've encrypted on a hard drive.  The two cases add up to a lesson:  If the cops don't know what they don't know, your secrets are safe.  But if they know what they're looking for, the world's strongest cipher isn't going to stop them from getting it from a suspect.

ACLU Wins Legal Victory Against Border-Agent Laptop Seizures.  A Massachusetts federal judge denied a motion by the government to dismiss a complaint filed on behalf of the organization created to raise legal funds for a soldier accused of leaking information to WikiLeaks.  At issue is whether government agents possess broad powers to search electronic devices at the border without any justification.





Radar traps:  The cop's bread and butter.

Police unveil new technology to help crack down on speeding along 495.  You might want to pump the brakes if you're traveling the I-495 corridor from now on; state police are introducing new "zero tolerance" patrols, and they have a new tool at their disposal. [...] The devices placed along the highway allow the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to track the average travel speeds of drivers.  The data is then sent to state police so they can strategically put troopers in the right place at the right time to catch speeders and prevent possible accidents or fatalities.

Infamous speed trap town Waldo investigated over tickets.  The situation simmered for years until this month, when Police Chief Mike Szabo was suspended Aug. 12, apparently in response to an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement into suspected improprieties in the way officers write tickets.

Speed Traps Fact Sheet.  Speed traps are often used by municipalities as a method of generating revenue to run the government.  "Safety" is given as the excuse for running a speed trap, but the real reason boils down to money.  The police department wants more money for equipment and salaries, the city wants more money to avoid raising taxes, local residents and businesses often go along with speed traps because they reduce local taxes, and besides, they're usually not the drivers who get the tickets anyway.

Ambushing drivers in speed traps must stop.  Police operating speed traps are not interdicting aggressive drivers who pass in the right-hand lane, cut people off and speed to gain a few car-lengths.  Aggressive driving behaviour is really dangerous and leads to fender-benders and cyclist injuries.  If fine collection becomes the goal, aggressive driving gets less attention, while otherwise safe and responsible drivers get ambushed by police with radar guns at their favourite speed trap locations.

People v. Goulet.  ["]Traffic rules account for most of the contact by average citizens with law enforcement and the courts.  Enforcement of laws which are widely perceived as unreasonable and unfair generates disrespect and even contempt toward those who make and enforce those laws.["]

Officials Plan Adjustments as New York City Slows to 25 M.P.H..  Mayor Bill de Blasio's traffic safety push yielded perhaps its most significant change early on Friday [6/20/2014], when the State Legislature approved a plan to reduce the default speed limit in New York City to 25 miles per hour.  Now comes the hard part:  retooling the highly choreographed traffic dance in a city of 14,000 taxis, 12,700 signalized intersections and 6,000 roadway miles.

The Editor says...
The mayor has essentially turned the whole city into a school zone, without having to put up signs to that effect.  This may not make the city any safer, but it will give the cops more excuses to search your car for drugs and look for some excuse to write you up.

Retired cop writes up small town, calls it a speed trap; state investigating.  With a population of about 320, Sportsmen Acres seems more like a neighborhood than a town.  But neighborly isn't the way David Farrow would describe it.  Based on a complaint the Stillwater resident made to state agencies, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety is investigating the Mayes County community as being an alleged speed trap, in violation of state law, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. George Brown said.

Speed Trap Spotlight: Louisiana.  Louisiana is the latest state to try to outlaw speed traps.  State Representative Regina Barrow recently proposed legislation that would define a speed trap as a stretch of road for which no valid speed study exists.  In such cases, police would be prohibited from using radar enforcement unless the driver's speed exceeds the prima facie limit by 15 mph or more.  A related bill would require municipalities that generate at least 50 percent of their revenue from speeding citations to post warning signs and flashing lights alerting motorists to upcoming speed traps.

Speed trap signs drawing attention.  The signs are set up along Springwood Road heading into Yoe borough.  The speed limit along the road changes from 40 mph to 25 mph.  Police often sit nearby and pull over people who do not slow down.  "We've seen roughly probably close to four or five hundred people pulled over here," said Kline.  He feels police should make themselves noticeable to drivers when trying to get them to slow down instead of being tucked behind cars.  You would think police wouldn't appreciate the gesture but that isn't the case.

Driverless cars could cripple law enforcement budgets.  Local government has long looked to speeding tickets to increase revenue.  What will they do when autonomous cars stick to the speed limit?

Audit: Officials in speed trap Texas town caught lining pockets.  If you've ever gotten a ticket at a small town speed trap and suspected the money ended up in somebody's pocket, you might have been right.  An audit obtained by Watchdog.org shows that a group of current and former officials in Huntington, Texas — population 2,118 — collected pay for thousands of hours they either didn't work or weren't supposed to.  Even as they complained that the town's coffers were running dry, they falsified traffic citation records to collect fines higher than those imposed by the court, according to court records.

Florida lawmakers move to wipe corrupt 'Boss Hogg' town from map.  One town in Florida is reportedly so corrupt — with one police officer for every 25 people and a long record of issuing traffic tickets simply to raise government revenues — that lawmakers are mulling a plan to wipe it off the map.  Even the mayor says his town council members and officials are crooks — though he says that from jail, The Daily Mail reported.  He's currently behind bars, awaiting trial on charges that he allegedly sold oxycodone to an undercover cop, the news outlet said.  The town is Hampton, and it's home to about 500.  But now Florida state legislators have heard enough of the community's corruption, much of which was revealed in a just-released audit, that they're pushing to shut it down, The Daily Mail reported.

Speed trap city accused of corruption, threatened with extinction.  How off-the-charts corrupt do you have to be to capture somebody's attention in the Sunshine State?  You can lay claim to a 1,260-foot stretch of busy highway a mile outside of town and set up one of the nation's most notorious speed traps.  You can use the ticket money to build up a mighty police force — an officer for every 25 people in town — and, residents say, let drugs run rampant while your cops sit out by the highway on lawn chairs, pointing radar guns at everybody who passes by.  Of course, none of those things are illegal.  But when you lose track of the money and the mayor gets caught up in an oxy-dealing sting, that's when the politicians at the state Capitol in Tallahassee take notice.  Now they want this city gone, and the sooner the better.

Texas Man Fights Charge of Warning Drivers About Speed Trap.  A Texas man who was arrested for waving a sign to warn drivers of a lurking traffic cop defended himself in a court by saying his warning was "the same thing as a speed limit sign."  Ron Martin, 33, appeared in court Wednesday [1/15/2014] to fight a misdemeanor charge of waving a homemade sign.  He was arrested last October after Police Officer Thomas Mronzinski saw him on the median strip of a six-lane highway holding up the sign — he is a sign painter by trade — reading "Police Ahead."

The Rape of Delaware County, Oklahoma.  Bernice, which has a population of about 600, is bisected by Highway 85A.  For the past quarter-century, the town has been one of the most notorious speed traps in the Midwest.  Until recently, the town didn't have a police department; instead, it contracted with the Delaware County Commission, paying $5500 a month to rent sheriff's deputies to write speeding tickets and other citations.

Texas Woman Arrested for Warning Drivers About Speed Trap.  A Houston woman's attempt to save drivers from a speeding ticket landed her something worse:  12 hours in jail.  As she rode her bicycle home from a grocery store last week near downtown Houston, Natalie Plummer noticed police officers pulling over speeders.  After she parked her bike and turned one of her grocery bags into a makeshift sign warning drivers about the "speed trap" ahead, an officer drove up and arrested her.

Natalie Plummer Arrest Protest to be Held Saturday.  Houstonian Natalie Plummer was arrested on Thursday, June 21, for standing on the sidewalk and holding a paper sign.  While riding her bike down West Dallas on her way home from the grocery store, Plummer noticed HPD pulling over cars that were allegedly speeding.  She took videotape of this happening near downtown because she believed HPD was wrongly pulling over random people that were not even speeding.

Pedestrian thrown in jail for 12 hours for holding up sign warning drivers about police speed trap.  A woman in Houston, Texas, was arrested and jailed for 12 hours after she held up a make-shift sign to warn drivers about a speed trap.  Natalie Plummer was officially charged with walking in the roadway — jaywalking, essentially — though she says the police officers who arrested her were just angry that she had tipped off speeders.

Houston Residents Rally Behind Woman Jailed for 'Speed Trap' Sign.  A Houston woman who was arrested after she attempted to warn drivers about a speed trap is receiving support across the nation after her story went viral.  More than two weeks ago, as she rode her bicycle home from a grocery store near downtown Houston, Natalie Plummer noticed police officers pulling over speeders.  After she parked her bike and turned one of her grocery bags into a makeshift sign warning drivers about the "speed trap" ahead, an officer drove up and arrested her.  She was jailed for 12 hours.

Bright Lights, Big Trouble.  Erich Campbell thought he was being helpful.  The Florida Highway patrolman thought he was being obnoxious and disrespectful and gave him a $101 fine.  "I couldn't believe it," said Campbell as he paced next to Veterans Highway in Tampa, Fla.  "I was in complete disbelief."  Campbell's crime?  He flashed his headlights to alert oncoming cars after passing that patrolman's speed trap.

Florida Highway Patrol illegally tickets motorists who warn others about speed traps.  When the Florida Highway Patrol pulls someone over on the highway, it's usually because they were speeding.  But Eric Campbell was pulled over and ticketed while he was driving the speed limit.

Judge rules flashing headlights is free speech in Oregon case.  Judge Joseph Carter determined the law covering the use of high beams was valid, but was unconstitutional as it was applied by the deputy.

Texas Man Arrested for Warning of Speed Traps.  The capitol [sic] city of Texas has added another dimension to the town motto "Keep Austin Weird" with a bizarre crusade against speed traps.  After launching his website, SpeedTrapAhead.org three years ago, Lance Mitchell became a burr under the saddle of officials in fast-growing Lakeway, a toney community northwest of Austin, by warning drivers of — well, speed traps ahead.  But Mitchell's persistent crusade has now earned him an arrest and jail time for allegedly violating city signage laws, according to the Dec. 25 Austin American Statesman.

Florida Highway Patrol tickets motorists who warn others about speed traps.  [Eric] Campbell says the FHP trooper wrote him a ticket for improper flashing of high beams.  Campbell says the trooper told him what he had done was illegal.  But later Campbell learned that is not the case.  He filed a class action suit which says "Florida Statue 316.2397" — under which Campbell was cited — "does not prohibit the flashing of headlights as a means of communications, nor does it in any way reference flashing headlights or the use of high beams."

Drivers can tip others to speed traps.  [Scroll down]  One of the troopers who previously had been hunkered down in the median told him it was against state law to flash his lights to alert oncoming motorists to slow down to avoid a speeding ticket.  A judge in Hillsborough County disagreed and dismissed the $115 ticket.  Campbell filed a lawsuit last month on behalf of himself and the estimated thousands of others who have been cited as well.

Radar traps - without radar.
The Eyes Have It:  No Need for Radar Gun in Ohio.  Imagine a highway trooper pulling you over in the middle of your summer travel and declaring that you were speeding.  How's he know for sure?  Because he says so; at least, in Ohio.  The state's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday [6/2/2010] that the trained eyeballs of police officers are enough to hand out speeding tickets.  A radar gun is unnecessary.

Federal Speed Traps:  The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration last year raided $744 million that motorists paid in federal gasoline taxes and doled out the cash to the states in the form of "highway safety" grants.  The word safety is meant to conjure images of responsibility, but the primary use of the money is paying overtime to cops running speed traps.  Virginia, for example, claimed $18 million in grants this year, with $2.3 million allocated to the state police.  That agency will use this money almost exclusively on ticketing blitzes and new radar guns.

Illinois' Ticketmaster: State trooper has written more than 5,000 tickets.  The 5,005 speeding tickets the 36-year-old veteran of 12 years has written since January 2000 is 603 more than his closest colleague, a Sun-Times analysis of more than 700,000 tickets shows.  Or as he puts it, "If I have to get out of my car, you're usually getting a ticket."  Assigned to the roaming Special Enforcement Team — unlike most troopers who patrol the same stretch of highway every day — Heinzl has gone as far as disguising himself a construction worker to nab speeders and is harder to avoid than most.

Business owner casts reasonable doubt on accuracy of speed cameras.  Will Foreman has beaten the speed cameras.  Five times and counting before three different judges, the Prince George's County business owner has used a computer and a calculation to cast reasonable doubt on the reliability of the soulless traffic enforcers.  After a judge threw out two of his tickets Wednesday [4/20/2011], Mr. Foreman said he is confident he has exposed systemic inaccuracies in the systems that generate millions of dollars a year for town, city and county governments.

California drivers say money is motive for rise in traffic tickets.  The reasons are in dispute, but the trend is clear:  The California Highway Patrol is handing out more traffic citations than it did a few years ago, and that has generated tens of millions of dollars in new revenue for state and local government.  As the state and cities wrestled with shrinking revenue and growing budget gaps, the California Highway Patrol issued about 200,000 more traffic citations in 2009 than it did two years before.

Report:  Memo Outlines Police Game for Writing Tickets.  A police memo from a California city under federal investigation for overzealous motorist prosecution appears to outline a game in which officers competed to write tickets, impound vehicles and arrest drivers.  The memo, from scandal-racked Bell, Calif., is entitled "Bell Police Department Baseball Game," and assigns "singles," "doubles," "triples," and "home runs" to various violations, The Los Angeles Times reported Monday [2/28/2011].

Racism, Injustice, and the Left.  When I go to buy my newspaper on a Sunday morning, I always pass by at least three police cars.  Sure, they're there to write traffic tickets, but they are there, and that prevents crime.  When I drive through the ghetto, I rarely see any police presence.  Fighting crime is expensive and dangerous, while tickets are safe and lucrative.

Smile, speeders:  SC town using I-95 speed cameras.  Motorists zipping along a stretch of Interstate 95 South Carolina may soon find themselves on camera.

Arizona May Abandon Speed Cameras on Highways.  More than a year after Arizona became the first state in the country to deploy dozens of speed cameras on highways statewide, threats to the groundbreaking program abound. ... "I see all the cameras in Arizona completely coming down " in 2010, said Shawn Dow, chairman of Arizona Citizens Against Photo Radar, which is trying to get a measure banning the cameras on the November ballot.  "The citizens of Arizona took away the cash cow of Arizona by refusing to pay."

What I Saw At the Napolitano "Revolution".  One of the most extraordinary components of [Janet] Napolitano's Arizona legacy has to do with her attempt to monetize state security.  With virtually no input from the state legislature, Governor Napolitano used her executive powers to mandate the purchase and installation of speed-limit enforcing "photo radar" cameras which are now dispersed literally everywhere in Arizona — in the city, and throughout the state's vast rural regions as well.  Napolitano's approach to speed enforcement is bad enough for its draconian, big-brother approach.  But worse still, in a blatantly cynical move, Napolitano established that citations from the statewide "speed cameras" would carry with them no penalty to one's driving record — just a monetary fee.

Say cheese, speeders.  To make good on his offer to help Chicago combat violence, Gov. Blagojevich envisions putting speed cameras on interstates across Illinois — and using the revenue to form an "elite tactical team" that would operate in Chicago and other cities.  The idea is in its infancy, with no budget and no timetable.

Teen tries GPS defense to fight speeding ticket.  A year ago July 4, Windsor teenager Shaun Malone, now 18, received a ticket on Lakeville Highway after a Petaluma police officer using radar said he clocked the teen's 2000 Toyota Celica GTS going 62 mph in a 45 mph zone.  But Malone's family contends that a GPS system they installed in his car to monitor his driving habits proves he was driving 45 mph at virtually the same time and place the officer said he clocked him speeding.

The Editor says...
Notice that the city is willing to spend thousands of dollars to avoid a precedent-setting verdict that would show the fallibility of their beloved radar.

Troopers target speeders to replenish Pike coffers.  State troopers have been ordered to ticket more Mass Pike motorists inside Route 128 as the cash-starved authority looks to pump an additional $600,000 in speeding fines into its coffers.  Pike spokesman Mac Daniel admitted yesterday the turnpike authority lost $600,000 in revenue from speeding fines after the July 10, 2006, Big Dig tunnel ceiling collapse that killed Milena Del Valle of Jamaica Plain.

The Editor says...
You have to hand them one thing:  Massachusetts has abandoned any pretense that speeding tickets are given out to make the roads safer.  The state now admits that the tickets are all about raising money.

Maine state police using unconventional tactics to get speeders' cash.  Maine state highway patrolmen have increasingly used devious tactics to catch speeders, including posing as survey teams or having laser guns in the back of unmarked vans.  One lieutenant tried to justify the methods by saying, "It's not entrapment, it's just unconventional enforcement."

More than just myopic legalism — this is about using traffic cops to raise money.
City tells parking officers to cite 55 violations a day.  Let the meter expire, even for a minute or two, and there's a parking officer issuing a ticket.  Park too close to a driveway or ignore a permit-only sign and again it's ticket time.  If it seems like St. Paul aggressively enforces parking meters and rules, this might help explain why:  To make sure the city's enforcement officers are working hard, police want each agent to write tickets for 55 violations a day.

Keene sues six parking meter 'Robin Hoods' who put money in expired meters.  The city has filed a lawsuit against six citizens, part of a group dubbed Robin Hood of Keene that patrols downtown armed with video cameras and pockets full of change to fill expired parking meters.  Also known as Robin Hooders, the six are associated with the Free Keene group.

The Editor says...
Note that the city is filing a civil suit, not a criminal complaint, because the "Robin Hood" people didn't do anything illegal.  The issue has nothing to do with orderly parking.  It's all about money and control.

Sign of the times:  'Phantom Taxes'.  Are you starting to get the feeling that there's a cop around every bend in the road just waiting to give you a ticket for speeding?  Or a meter maid hovering near your parking meter waiting for the minutes to expire? ... When government feels compelled to enforce laws not for the sake of good government but because they need cash, it puts a decided crimp in personal liberty.  But that hardly matters to governments who seek new revenue streams rather than cutting the size and cost of their operations.

Court Upholds Mailing Tickets to "Speeders" Caught by Camera.  An Oregon appeals court that views traffic tickets solely as civil matters rather than criminal cases has rejected a constitutional challenge to the controversial practice of mailing tickets to unwary speeders.

Speed cameras in Montgomery County:  The Baltimore County Council has approved the use of speed cameras in the county's school zones. ... About 15 cameras will be leased initially for about $6,400 each per month.  The percentage of the revenues returned to the leasing company has not been determined yet.

New York's phantom taxes.  Reluctant to raise taxes publicly, the Bloomberg administration is pursuing a "stealth tax" — launching an unprecedented squeeze on Big Apple residents and businesses, cracking down on parking, health, safety and quality-of-life infractions with a vengeance, the data shows.  The ongoing blitz has worked so well that City Hall bean counters expect to rake in a record $884 million in fines by the end of this fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010.

It's not about public safety, it's all about raising money.
Recession Causes Speeding Crackdown?  The next time you're doing 60 in a 55-mph zone, make sure to look over your shoulder.  According to a USA Today report Wednesday, police around the country may be cracking down on drivers within the traditional 5-10-mph "cushion" of the speed limit, as the recession continues to put pressure on state and local budgets.

Bill proposed to outlaw speed traps.  A state representative says he plans to introduce legislation within the next two weeks that would compel communities to follow a public act requiring them to set speed limits according to specific formulas.  State Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said communities are preying on motorists by keeping speed limits too low.  His legislation would force cities, townships and villages to conduct speed studies to properly set limits in accordance with Public Act 85 of 2006.

New Mobile Service Fights Speed Traps.  The developer of Trapster, Pete Tenereillo, said the system, which requires punching in a few keys such as "pound-1" to submit information to Trapster's database, should comply with laws banning talking on cell phones.  Tenereillo insisted he isn't encouraging motorists to break the law or drive dangerously, saying drivers who speed are bound to do so anyway.  And he said police officials he's talked to haven't complained about the service because it inevitably encourages drivers to slow down.

The Crime of Committing 'Contempt of Cop'.  According to Fox News, in December 2009, Erich Campbell noticed a police officer obviously running traffic radar parked near the Tampa International Airport.  Campbell committed an egregious act of contempt of cop:  he flashed his headlights at oncoming traffic to warn them of the speed trap.  He was stopped and given a citation for "improper flashing of high-beams."  The cost?  $101.00.  There is a happy ending to this morality tale:  the citation was eventually dismissed and Campbell filed a class-action lawsuit against the state of Florida.

NBS Special Publication 442, "Report of the 60th National Conference on Weights and Measures 1975," May 1976, pp. 42-47.
Calibration Of Police Radar Instruments.  The vast majority of current radar guns use the 10,525 MHz allocation.  Suppose, for example, that a radar instrument which was designed for 10,525 MHz had a microwave oscillator which was detuned (outside the FCC allocation) to 12,000 MHz; then that radar instrument would measure a vehicle which was actually traveling 50 mph as traveling 57 mph even though a 50 mph tuning fork made for that gun would cause it to read 30 mph.


Mysterious roadside antennaRadar traps are completely redundant on all Dallas-area freeways, thanks to the presence of Smart Sensors manufactured by Wavetronix.  These X-band radar modules measure the speed of every car that passes by, and send the information immediately back to TXDOT.  Whether it goes any further is entirely up to the State of Texas.  The presence of police cars on the side of the road is therefore totally unnecessary -- unless the roadside cops are there to make people believe that's the only way to measure vehicle speed.  This mysterious roadside antenna is on Spur 408 in southwest Dallas.  The writer knows an antenna when he sees one, and the peculiar thing about this one is that it is tilted downward, about 20°, toward the traffic.

This specimen is located at 32°41'52.0" N., 96°56'10.1" W.     Photo by Andrew K. Dart, Copyright 2006.

Related information can be found on this page, including news about license plate readers on the tollways (in lieu of toll booths), and a proposal to put RFID chips in all Texas license plates, which would effectively put a TollTag or TxTag on every car.  The location of every vehicle on every major highway could then be recorded.  That may also be a component of the proposed odometer tax system as well.



"The makers of our Constitution … conferred, as against the government, the right to be let alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.  To protect, that right, every unjustifiable intrusion by the government upon the privacy of the individual, whatever the means employed, must be deemed a violation of the Fourth Amendment."


Parking tickets and other fundraising mechanisms

L.A.'s Over-the-Top Parking Tickets Spark Revolt.  If you've lived in a L.A. for even a short stretch of time you know there's a hidden but brutal tax in this city.  It's called the parking ticket.  Opponents of the tax scheme say L.A. generates $300 million a year in parking revenue, $150 million of that from tickets.

When the police get entrepreneurial:  The citizenry could become prey if police personnel find themselves rewarded for bringing in cash via the citations they issue.  So close civilian oversight over any such efforts is necessary.

A 2-Bit Meter Feeder Frenzy.  Parking-meter feeders are getting less bang for their quarter.  At 47,000 meters around town, 30 minutes for 25 cents is being reduced to 20 minutes at the same price.  It's part of Mayor Bloomberg's plan to raise an additional $16.8 million annually to help close the city's $4 billion budget gap.  The move has business owners fuming.

Speeding, Parking Tickets on Rise as Government Revenue Source.  Drivers across the country, beware — a heftier fine could be coming to a dashboard near you.  Faced with rising deficits and dwindling revenues, many states and local municipalities are turning to increased traffic and parking fines to fill their coffers.  In California, the cost of a "fix-it ticket" nearly tripled on Jan. 1, meaning that drivers in the Golden State can pay up to $100 for having a broken headlight — an infraction that didn't even garner a citation years ago.

Petty Police State:  Some officers in the Dallas Police Department are doing things against the letter and the spirit of our laws.  After writing a traffic ticket up, and getting the signature, too many on the force then add on infractions.  Gretchen West was stopped for a burned-out tail light.  She took away her ticket for $220.  And paid.  Then she got a letter in the mail, saying she owed an extra $378 for failing to wear a seatbelt and driving without her headlights on.  But, but … the officer had not mentioned those alleged violations!





Cops will not stand for insults

Man who gave trooper the finger has charge dropped.  The American Civil Liberties Union had argued that while the gesture may be have been rude, it amounted to protected free speech.

An obvious violation of the First Amendment:
Cartoonist Faces Prosecution for Videos Mocking Police.  In Washington, a cartoonist is possibly facing jail time for a series of animated Internet videos that mock police officers.  The cartoonist, who goes by the name Mr. Fiddlesticks, is being investigated for alleged "cyberstalking," a crime in Washington.

Whatever you do, don't make the cops look bad.
Raft guide arrested after helping stranded rafter on Clear Creek.  Clear Creek sheriff's deputies on Thursday [6/10/2010] arrested a rafting guide for swimming to a stranded young rafter who had tumbled from his boat on Clear Creek.  Ryan Daniel Snodgrass, a 28-year-old guide with Arkansas Valley Adventures rafting company, was charged with "obstructing government operations," said Clear Creek Sheriff Don Krueger.

Whatever you do, don't make other city workers look bad.
Man, 81, charged for clearing pothole for repair.  An Ohio man said he chipped away loose material to prepare a pothole for repair and thought he was helping the city, not breaking the law.  An undercover police officer spotted 81-year-old James Stacy in the street near Stacy's home with a pickax and a broom last week.

Whatever you do, don't break the code of silence.
Whistle-blower let go as reserve deputy.  A law enforcement whistle-blower who told investigators he witnessed a Contra Costa County sheriff's deputy conduct a "dirty DUI" arrest has been relieved from duty in what he said was retaliation for breaking the police code of silence.  William Howard of Danville worked as a reserve in the Sheriff's Department for 19 years until he was dismissed Tuesday [8/14/2012] without explanation and ordered to turn in his uniform and weapon.

Jury rules Chicago police 'code of silence' protected felon cop.  A pervasive culture of silence in the Chicago Police Department led officers to try to cover up the brutal 2007 bar beating of a 115-pound bartender by a 225-pound off-duty officer, a federal jury has decided.  It was a big win for the plaintiff, Karolina Obrycka, who filed suit five years ago, and a big loss for the city.  The jury awarded Obrycka $850,000 in damages Tuesday, deciding the police department had enabled the disgraced officer, Anthony Abbate, and shielded him from the attack's consequences until the case went public.

Don't yell at a cop.
D.C. police's search for drugs on D.C. teen is ruled illegal.  A few days before Christmas 2005 at nearly midnight, a uniformed District police officer patrolling the Sursum Corda neighborhood in Northwest heard a 16-year-old on a corner call out his name and ask, "What's up?"  That was before the yelling.  And it was the yelling — not the $974 in cash or the 24 baggies of crack cocaine that police later found on the teenager — that landed Officer Robert Elliott and the juvenile in a rare but important case before the D.C. Court of Appeals.

Don't flip the finger.
Judge acquits woman who gave middle finger to police chief on basis of First Amendment.  An Ohio woman who gave the middle finger to an off-duty police chief trying to merge into her traffic lane was acquitted Monday [6/18/2012] on the basis of the First Amendment.  Chief Roger Moore, of Chillicothe, was driving his personal car last month when he tried to pull into a lane of stopped traffic on Bridge St., the Chillicothe Gazette reports.  The unidentified woman reportedly honked and made the gesture, and Moore pulled her over and charged her with misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

The Editor says...
It remains to be explained how the police chief "pulled her over" while "driving his personal car".

Gold Finger.  An upstate New York man "gave the finger" to a cop using a radar gun and now may get paid for it.  After the incident, the police officer followed the man, a passenger in a car driven by his wife, to their destination and arrested him.  Here's where the stories diverge.  The cop said he called for backup police and said he followed the man because he thought the extended middle finger was a sign of distress — that a domestic dispute was perhaps underway.

The Editor says...
Oh, I feel awful now.  For years, I've seen lots of people sending out distress signals on the highway and I've just been ignoring them!

Driver gets false 'revenge' ticket for telling-off parking officer.  A Denver parking enforcement officer took revenge on a driver who called him a "meter maid" by asking a co-worker to write the driver a false parking ticket, [KUSA-TV] has learned.  The parking officers then mailed the $150 handicapped parking ticket to the driver late, so by the time he received it, the fine had doubled.  "This was a $300 ticket," Joshua Miscles of Denver said.  "People get criticized every day and it doesn't give them the right to just write a ticket and a fake ticket to boot."

The Erik Scott Case, Update 11.2:  [Scroll down]  Contempt of cop also applies to the worst instincts some police officers develop.  In those cases, officers become "badge-heavy," they begin to take matters personally.  They become hypersensitive to any insult, real or imagined.  They don't consider the elements of the law, they take offense, act first and make up the rest later.  Such officers are unpredictable and dangerous, not only to the public, but to their fellow officers who know that the bad will of the public is cumulative.





Wasted money

A Familiar Pattern of Futility in the International Drug War.  Strenuous efforts to dampen the supply of illicit drugs in one locale simply cause traffickers to move their production to other locations where the pressure is weaker for the moment.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig on DPD inefficiencies.  Detroit Police Chief James Craig came to Detroit as a department outsider and has in his first month tallied an unhealthy number of baffling observations.  "I wish I could make this stuff up," said Craig Thursday [8/8/2013] after sharing some of those findings with media.  The city received a nearly $400,000 federal grant to purchase a new Special Response Team BearCat, an armored personnel carrier.  "But for whatever reason we decide and let the grant lapse and at the last minute a local law enforcement partner took advantage of it and now has this SRT vehicle," said Craig.

Cut role of feds in local police, fire and education.  The federal government had almost no role in funding before President Clinton created the Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, in 1994.  COPS was supposed to give temporary grants to local governments to hire police officers until they could secure their own permanent funding.  Of course, local governments just got hooked on the federal cash, and some even used it to replace local funding.  Worse, a 2006 study found COPS grants were completely ineffective at actually reducing crime.

Retiring Parsippany police chief to get $132K a year, state says.  The township police chief will soon retire with an annual benefit of $131,951.76, according to state Department of Treasury spokesman William Quinn.  Anthony DeZenzo filed a retirement application with the New Jersey Police and Firemen's Retirement System on Feb. 8, according to Quinn.

Federal Support For and Involvement In State and Local Fusion Centers.  [Scroll down to page 85]  In 2011, the San Diego area's fusion center, known as the Law Enforcement Coordination Center (SD-LECC), spent $25,000 on high-tech surveillance equipment, most of which was so sophisticated it eventually returned it for simpler devices.  This purchase was made, despite the fact that federal guidelines for fusion center key capabilities do not include covert or surreptitious intelligence gathering.

Spending money just for the sake of spending it:
Abolish the DHS.  Many of the contracts that DHS considers a success have funded a growing federal assault on privacy.  The fishing village of Dillingham, AK (pop. 2,400), is too small for a streetlight, but thanks to a homeland security grant, it now has 80 surveillance cameras.  The town of Ridgely, MD (pop. 1,400), got a grant for cameras as well.  "It was difficult to be able to find something to use the money for," said Ridgely's police chief, but "if you don't ask, you aren't going to get a thing."

In Canada:
Spectators in Body Armor.  I may have to revise my old line about the British police being "the most monumentally useless in the developed world".  For the G20 summit, the Toronto coppers ordered up a ton of new body armor, weaponry, gas masks, etc — and then stood around in their state-of-the-art riot gear watching as a bunch of middle-class "anarchists" trashed the city.

Feds find failures in Cook Co. homeland security project.  Project Shield was supposed to make citizens safer.  But in the end, the $45-million Homeland Security program more resembled a disaster, wasting taxpayers' dollars and failing to make a single citizen more secure.  The failed Cook County initiative was replete with equipment that failed to work, missing records and untrained first responders according to a report by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. ... Under Project Shield, two police squad cars in all 128 Cook County suburbs were to be fitted with cameras capable of feeding live video to a central command.

Detroit police stations to close to the public for 16 hours a day.  The latest downsizing plan is already reigniting criticism of the police department.  'I was a police officer in Detroit for 35 years and I can tell you they have wasted money for 35 years," John Barr, a representative for the Police Officers Association of Michigan, said in a telephone interview.  'It's pathetic, just pathetic.'

Oakland police radios fail during Obama visit.  The year-old system has been plagued by breakdowns and dead zones that have left officers' digital radios prone to blackouts across the city and in most commercial buildings, including the basement of police headquarters.  A city-hired consultant said last week that the system was not up to urban standards. [...] Oakland paid $18 million for the radio system when it became operational last year, largely using grant money.





Incompetence

Ashley Gabrielle Huff Jailed After US Police Confuse Spaghetti for Crystal Meth.  Ashley Gabrielle Huff, a woman from the state of Georgia in the US, was jailed for one month after police officers confused spaghetti they found on her spoon for crystal meth.  The bizarre sequence of events started in July 2014, when Huff was pulled over by police in Gainesville, Florida.  During the routine search, officers were alerted to a spoon with a dried substance on it and concluded it was the highly addictive drug crystal meth, despite pleas from the 23-year-old that it was residue from canned pasta meal SpaghettiOs.

Cop instantly shoots, kills teen who answered door holding video game controller.  A Georgia family is in shock following the death of their 17-year-old son, who was accidentally killed by a police officer who believed the video game controller he was holding was a gun, according to the family's lawyer.  Christopher Roupe of Euharlee, Georgia heard a knock at the door of the family's home last Friday night.  Upon opening the door, he was immediately shot by a female police officer.  Roupe was pronounced dead upon arrival at a local hospital.

New York police keep raiding dead man's home, lawsuit says.  He's been dead for eight years, but try telling that to the NYPD.  Cops have barged into James Jordan Sr.'s family home looking for him more than a dozen times since he died in 2006 — prompting his exasperated relatives to finally post his death certificate on the front door.  "I tell them over and over, 'James isn't here!  He's dead!  It's that simple.  What's so difficult to understand about that?'" the Brooklyn security guard's widow, Karen, told The [New York] Post on Monday [5/5/2014].

Gun tattoo in Maine prompts heavy police response.  Police armed with assault rifles descended on a Maine man's home after members of a tree removal crew he'd told to clear off his property reported that he had a gun.  Turns out the "gun" the tree crew had seen on Michael Smith of Norridgewock was just a life-sized tattoo of a handgun on his stomach.

The Editor says...
If the gun wasn't being brandished about or pointed at people, there's no reason to respond to a call like that, at least in some parts of the country.  But in New England, where anti-gun hysteria has taken root, even the rumor of a gun sighting brings out a massive over-reaction by the cops who watch too much television.

Man suing NYPD after candy leads to arrest on drug charges.  A New York City man reportedly has filed suit in federal court after the NYPD arrested him for possession of methamphetamine that lab tests subsequently revealed to be Jolly Rancher candies.

Police shot this truck 102 times without provocation in the Dorner manhunt.  (Source: LA Times)
Photo source:  LA Times.
The Dorner Manhunt.  The two terrified women huddled up as over 100 rounds riddled their vehicle; popping the tires, shattering the windows, mangling the steel, and hitting both of their bodies.  Miraculously, both women survived their wounds.  The incident was a breathtaking display of incompetence and unprovoked aggression.  Police had absolutely no idea who they were shooting at.  They were seeking a suspect driving a black Nissan Titan.  The victims were in a blue Toyota Tacoma.  The fugitive was a large, muscular black man with a shaved head.  The victims were two Hispanic women; one of them 71-years-old.  A total of 102 rounds struck the truck, not counting the other stray shots that whizzed through the residential neighborhood.

Police smell meth, raid home, kill 80-year-old man, find no meth.  The widow of an 80-year-old man who was shot dead by police during a drug raid on their home is suing for $50 million.  On the night of June 27th, Los Angeles County deputies raided the home of Eugene Mallory and Tonya Pate. [...] Mallory was asleep in bed when police entered his home.  Pate said her husband has bad eyesight, and couldn't tell that the men entering the house were police officers without his glasses.

Officer shot unarmed man 10 times, police say.  Investigators say an unarmed man was shot 10 times by a Charlotte police officer.  Police said Monday that officer Randall Kerrick fired 12 times at 24-year-old Jonathan A. Ferrell early Saturday while responding to a breaking and entering call. [...] Kerrick has been charged with voluntary manslaughter.  He is out on bond and expected in court Tuesday [9/17/2013].

Young Deputy Sheriff Guns Down Air Force Vet in His Own Garage.  [68-year-old] Henry C. Taylor was inspecting his garage late at night after it had been robbed multiple times in the past week, according to WATE.  Outside, Deputy Ernest Ragland, 22, peeked through the window and spotted Taylor with his handgun.  That's when Ragland yelled at Taylor before shooting him multiple times, instantly killing the homeowner and veteran.

APD officer not indicted for May shooting incident.  The officer told investigators he feared for his life when Barton got out of his truck and walked toward his patrol car.  While the officer told him to get back in his vehicle, Barton pulled out something black from his pocket.  That's when Officer Boehm fired his gun one time, missing Barton.  The object in his hand turned out to be his wallet.

The Editor says...
In the old days (the 1970's) it was my understanding that the polite thing to do during a traffic stop was to meet the officer at the left rear corner of your car, with your driver's license in your hand.  These days, the cops have apparently been told that everybody is a threat, and they should shoot anyone who does anything they don't expect.  (Also, I think the cops watch too many movies.)  The result is a dangerously volatile police state.

Navy Yard: Swat team 'stood down' at mass shooting scene.  One of the first teams of heavily armed police to respond to Monday's shooting in Washington DC was ordered to stand down by superiors, the BBC can reveal.  A tactical response team of the Capitol Police, a force that guards the US Capitol complex, was told to leave the scene by a supervisor instead of aiding municipal officers.  The Capitol Police department has launched a review into the matter.

Report: Armed Emergency Response Team Ordered to Stand Down at Navy Yard as Shooting Started.  On Wednesday [9/18/2013], BBC News reported that an armed emergency response team arrived on site at the Washington Navy Yard within minutes of Aaron Alexis beginning his shooting spree, but was forced to stand down and was instead ordered back to Capitol Hill.

Probe launched over claim that elite Capitol Police unit blocked from Navy Yard massacre.  The board that oversees the U.S. Capitol Police has opened an investigation into whether a tactical team of officers that was one of the first on the scene during the Washington Navy Yard shooting was ordered to stand down.  Several sources confirmed the probe to Fox News.  The investigation follows reports that a highly trained and specialized Capitol Police team arrived soon after the shooting started, but was told by a supervisor to leave the scene.

Navy Yard shooting: Swat team awaits answers.  Members of a Washington DC Swat team who the BBC has learned were ordered not to respond to Monday's Navy Yard shootings have yet to be contacted by the authorities.  The Capitol Police tactical response team was told by a supervisor to leave the scene instead of aiding municipal officers, sources told the BBC.  Meanwhile, the department has installed a new leader of the elite unit.  No reason has been given for the decision.

The Editor says...
When the SWAT team is actually needed, they are turned away.  But if the cops hear about a guy growing marijuana in his basement, the SWAT team will be all over it.

Explosive BBC Claim: CERT unit at Navy Yard told to stand down as shooter raged.  If this Capitol Police CERT unit is trained to even a fraction of a degree one would expect, then they would have greatly over-matched mass-murdering Alexis, a glorified electrician with the infantry combat experience of a Cub Scout.  If it is determined that the Capitol Police CERT team were forced to stand down by a supervisor because of some petty jurisdictional turf war, then heads should roll.

Congressman confirms 'stand down' order at Navy Yard.  A congressman has confirmed a "stand down" order was given to a rescue team that could have responded almost immediately to the shooter running amok at the Washington Navy Yard more than a week ago.  In an interview with Jake Tapper of CNN, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said his information came from a member of the rescue team.

Calls for Capitol Police Navy Yard Congressional inquiry.  The union representing officers with the US Capitol Police (USCP) has called for a congressional inquiry into the decision to pull a Swat team from the scene of a mass shooting in September.

California College Campus Shut Down for Almost an Hour Over Cardboard Gun.  A student taking place in a criminal justice exercise as part of class was carrying a cardboard cutout gun.  This sparked calls to police who responded as if an active shooter was on campus, once again, even though campus carry is technically legal in California.  Police responded, and after 45 minutes, they finally made contact with the student, who was making no effort to hide.

Only the finest!
Court OKs Barring High IQs for Cops.  A man whose bid to become a police officer was rejected after he scored too high on an intelligence test has lost an appeal in his federal lawsuit against the city.  The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court's decision that the city did not discriminate against Robert Jordan because the same standards were applied to everyone who took the test.

Cleveland Police Engage in a Shootout with Unarmed Suspects.  A November car chase ended in a "full blown-out" firefight, with glass and bullets flying, according to Cleveland police officers who described for investigators the chaotic scene at the end of the deadly 25-minute pursuit.  But when the smoky haze — caused by rapid fire of nearly 140 bullets in less than 30 seconds — dissipated, it soon became clear that more than a dozen officers had been firing at one another across a middle school parking lot in East Cleveland.

Massive Police Shootout in Cleveland Despite Lack of Criminals.  This would have turned out very differently if the officers had assumed that, as is almost always true, the two people in the car were just two people in a car.

Union Made Camden Police Expensive, Ineffective.  Camden, N.J., is replacing its current 230-officer police force with a new, cheaper force of 400 in order to combat rising crime, according to NPR.  The city currently spends 75 percent of its budget on police and fire departments but it remains one of the nation's most dangerous cities.  The police cannot keep up with crime and the city cannot afford to hire more officers.

Can't tell the difference between Apartment A and Apartment C:
Former Miss Nevada says L.A. deputies bust into apartment by mistake, kicked her out of bed naked.  The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department broke into a beauty queen's apartment by mistake, kicked her out of bed and then ogled her naked body while keeping their pistols trained on her, the woman and her fiancé claimed in a lawsuit.  Caleche Manos, who was Miss Nevada 2007, said she was in bed with her fiancé in their Santa Monica apartment on the morning of Nov. 15 2011, when sheriff's officers busted in with weapons and a search warrant.  The warrant was for apartment C, but Manos and her fiancé, Eric Otto Ryder, live in apartment A, the suit said.

Sheriff sued by deaf man held 25 days.  A Denver-area sheriff has been sued by a deaf couple who claim deputies failed to provide a sign-language interpreter for 25 days — from the moment the two were approached over an alleged disturbance to the day the man appeared in court on domestic assault charges.  "There were 25 days of his life that he had access to nothing — no information on why he was being held, no information about his case or what was going to happen to him," attorney Kevin Williams said of his client Timothy Siaki in an interview with The Denver Post.

The Creation of South Park Nation.  Once again, we see how Hollywood fantasy collides with reality.  The "superdetective" who uses deduction and intelligence to solve a crime simply does not exist, anymore, or if in existence, is a very rare species.  Instead, police today depend heavily upon preconceived "narratives" in which they decide at the beginning who is "guilty," and how to construct "evidence" to prove that guilt.  If the evidence does not fit the narrative, then police either ignore it or get prosecutors to do the legal version of pounding square pegs into round holes. [...] Modern criminal "investigations are not something out of "Bones" or "Law and Order."  Instead, they are something out of South Park.

Man Tells Police Dispatcher His Mentally Disturbed Brother Is Carrying a Fake Gun, Police Kill Him Anyway.  Shortly before 8 a.m. on June 28, police in Broomfield, Colorado, shot and killed Kyle Miller after he brandished a gun at them.  Miller was mentally ill.  The gun was fake.  Miller's younger brother told the police dispatcher both of these facts.  For some unknown reason, reports the Denver Post, Broomfield police shot Miller anyway.

Police shoot dangerous looking alligator, only to find it's a lawn ornament.  Officers responding to a rare sighting in the [Kansas City] suburb of Independence, Missouri, left nothing to chance.  Seeing the alligator's head lurking menacingly in the weeds leading down to a pond they fired off one shot with perfect precision.  Noting that the beast hadn't moved, they fired again.

Getting away with murder is the norm in Detroit.  [Detroit Police Chief Warren] Evans said that during his brief tenure as police chief, he has discovered:
 ·  An evidence property room in chaos.
 ·  A crime lab shut down due to incompetence.
 ·  Computers in squad cars that don't work.
 ·  A new $2.5 million camera system in patrol cars that does not function.
The department cannot recoup the loss on the cameras because it never purchased a warranty, police have said. The system known as Compstat, a crime data and computer mapping system used by most major cities to identify crime hot spots, was discarded.

Cowardice:
Authorities make changes after first responders watch man drown.  Alameda, California, has immediately changed its policies after first responders watched a man drown in San Francisco Bay and did nothing to rescue him.

When Officer Safety is Job No. 1, Citizens Die.  "I think officer safety is the number one issue," Chief Dotson explained to reporters after two of his officers reportedly fired nine rounds into an accused shoplifter who was apparently armed with a knife.  Such a statement may sound perfectly reasonable in the upside down world where allegiance to your labor union trumps allegiance to the public or allegiance to your employer.  But step back and consider:  Is a police officer's number one job really to protect himself and his partner?  Really?

Cowardice:
Subway Stabbing Victim Can't Sue NYPD For Failing To Save Him.  A man who was brutally stabbed by Brooklyn subway slasher Maksim Gelman two years ago had his negligence case against the city dismissed in court yesterday [7/25/2013], despite the fact that two transit officers had locked themselves in a motorman's car only a few feet from him at the time of the attack.  Gelman stabbed Joseph Lozito in the face, neck, hands and head on an uptown 3 train in February 2011, after fatally stabbing four people and injuring three others in a 28-hour period.

Police have six-hour standoff with unconscious suspect.  A suspect in a Massachusetts armed robbery was taken into custody and hospitalized for a drug overdose after a state Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team was called to a Nichols Road residence.  Jeremy Q. Curtis, 40, of Hanover, Mass., was taken into custody and then brought to Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro following a six-hour incident during which Curtis was unconscious.

NY Car Ticketed Repeatedly With Dead Body Inside.  Police made a gruesome discovery earlier this week while getting ready to tow a heavily-ticketed van — a decomposed body in the back seat.  It was that of a missing man, and now his family wants to know to how officers could ticket the vehicle numerous times — and never notice what was inside.

Getting away with murder is the norm in Detroit.  At least 7 in 10 people who committed murder in this city last year have gotten away with it.  The most generous interpretation of 2008 homicide warrants and convictions supplied by local law enforcement officials shows that in more than 70 percent of homicide cases no suspect has been identified, arrested, charged or convicted of a killing.

When Cops Can't Use Lights and Sirens.  Sometimes police officers need to get from one place to another more quickly than traffic conditions will allow, which is why the cars they drive are equipped with sirens and bright flashing lights.  "But, Dunphy," you say, "why write about something so patently obvious?  Any fool knows that."  No, there are in fact some fools who do not know that.  Strangely enough, one such fool is a former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department who now sits on the Los Angeles City Council.

Fake Teen Cop Fools Police, Patrols Chicago for 5 Hours.  A 14-year-old aspiring police officer donned a uniform, walked into a Chicago police station and managed to get an assignment — patroling in a squad car for five hours before he was detected, police said Sunday [1/25/2009].

Not the 1st time boy was caught wearing cop gear.  A 14-year-old boy charged with impersonating a Chicago police officer over the weekend had been caught twice before donned in a police uniform and pretending to be a cop.  Prosecutors said he currently is on probation on a similar charge of impersonating an officer from December 2007.  His pastor, Rev. Roosevelt Watkins, said the boy had also been stopped by officers just last month at the Ford City Mall for wearing a police uniform.

Acting as if laws don't apply to cops:
N.J. Governor's SUV Went 91 Mph Before Crash.  The SUV carrying Gov. Jon S. Corzine was traveling about 91 mph moments before it crashed, Superintendent of State Police Col. Rick Fuentes said Tuesday [4/17/2007].  The governor was critically injured when the vehicle crashed into a guardrail on the Garden State Parkway just north of Atlantic City last week.  He apparently was not wearing his seat belt as he rode in the front passenger's seat.

On the other hand, cops sometimes get in trouble if they stop the Governor's speeding car.
Iowa fires agent who pursued gov's speeding SUV.  A veteran Iowa criminal investigator said he was fired Wednesday in retaliation for complaining about the governor's vehicle speeding through highway traffic, an assertion state officials rejected.

The TSA Is Coming To a Highway Near You.  In order to help rein in the TSA I introduced H.R. 3608, the Stop TSA's Reach in Policy Act aka the STRIP Act.  This bill will simply overturn the TSA's administrative decision by prohibiting any TSA employee who has not received federal law enforcement training from using the title "officer," wearing a police like uniform or a metal police badge.  At its most basic level the STRIP Act is about truth in advertising.  As TSOs continue to expand their presence beyond our nation's airports and onto our highways, every American citizen has the right to know that they are not dealing with actual federal law enforcement officers.





Selective enforcement

Cops who closed junkyard bar told to let it reopen.  Not everyone in the NYPD got the "drunkyard" memo.  Members of the Brooklyn South Vice Squad raided two illegal nightclubs set up in junkyards this past weekend — then got told by the local precinct to let them stay open, The [New York] Post has learned.  Cops burst into the open-air watering holes in East Flatbush around 3 a.m. Saturday [8/30/2014], law enforcement sources said.  When no one could produce a liquor license, the cops prepared to bust the bartenders and close the clubs, known as Tiki Village and Soca Village.

From the Files of Police Squad: No CCWs Allowed?  [A] Florida resident and CCW holder named John Filippidis was traveling down I-95 on the way home from New Jersey, when he was pulled over and his car was rifled through by Maryland law enforcement officers looking for the gun in his safe in Florida. [...] His wife made one of the classic mistakes.  Never, ever volunteer information to the police, especially when you're just guessing.

Driving Through Maryland — How The Lawful Florida Gun Owner Was Targeted.  What would prompt the Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MTAP) to randomly select their vehicle?  Because the first question to Mr. Filippidis was about his gun ownership, and the police search for the gun was based on his gun ownership, the Florida CCW permit that Filippidis holds was identified as the most likely impetus for the stop, questioning and search.  [His firearm was locked in a safe in his Florida home.]  This strikes us as highly alarming — so we contacted MTAP and we immediately filed public records requests to research what took place.

New York cops call video taped 'Knockout' attack harassment, not assault.  Rochester New York police are characterizing the brazen attack of an elderly woman as harassment rather than what it appears to be — another example of the hotly-debated "knockout game."  The attacker, a young black male who operated a Facebook account under the name "True Goon Tocool Sneekey", narrated his plan for the camera.

Smoking gun exposed — D.C. police covers up giving Feinstein illegal 'assault weapons'.  Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier seems to think that gun-control laws don't apply to the liberal elite.  The police chief helped Sen. Dianne Feinstein acquire "assault weapons," which are illegal to possess in the District, for a news conference early this year to promote a ban on these firearms, then tried to cover up the police involvement.  Now, a response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request reveals Chief Lanier's shocking willingness to bend the rules for partisan and ideological purposes.

It's the law: Washington state lawmakers don't get speeding tickets.  A spokesman for WSP says Washington lawmakers are constitutionally protected from receiving noncriminal traffic tickets during a legislative session, as well as 15 days before.

Capitol Hill Police Block Tea Party Activists from Immigration Rally.  Capitol Hill police left a voicemail for Kevin Mooneyhan, Deputy Executive Director of Tea Party Patriots, saying that "your people" only are permitted to assemble for the event on the west side of the Capitol.  The activists' presence at the immigration event on the east side supposedly violates the terms of the Tea Party's permit.  Mooneyhan was instructed to move any activists who planned on attending the Tea Party rally away from the immigration event.  Keep in mind, the immigration event is hosted by sitting members of Congress.  The notion that citizens can't attend an event featuring duly elected Representatives in a public space is absurd.  "The Capitol police are violating our rights to assembly and association," Mooneyhan told Breitbart News.  "How does our permit limit the rights of individuals to attend public events?  It's intimidation."

Report: D.C. police fail to investigate sexual assaults.  The D.C. police department does not adequately investigate sexual assaults and should have outside oversight to improve its detectives' sometimes inappropriate handling of such cases, according to Human Rights Watch, which on Thursday released the results of a 22-month investigation on the department's practices.  Human Rights Watch was also critical of the police department's response to its investigation, saying in its report that the reaction of department officials to its findings was "extremely hostile and defensive in tone."

No Speeding Ticket for Councilwoman Driving 105 mph.  Prince George's County in Maryland has been a dangerous place for drivers and pedestrians. ... Karen Toles sits on the Prince George's County Council.  On February 22, the councilwoman was clocked by the Prince George's County Police Department as traveling at more than 105 mph on the Capital Beltway which was 50 mph over the legal speed limit.  Police originally would not state how fast she was driving, but that information was later released.

Calling Out the Mobile Police Department.  As I reported yesterday [4/25/2012], the Mobile Police Department is ludicrously claiming that it is likely that no more than three people will be arrested for the now-infamous mob beating of a man in Mobile because the other 17 or so people were supposedly just "onlookers."

A Censored Race War?  In Milwaukee, for example, an attack on whites at a public park a few years ago left many of the victims battered to the ground and bloody.  But, when the police arrived on the scene, it became clear that the authorities wanted to keep this quiet.  One 22-year-old woman, who had been robbed of her cell phone and debit card, and had blood streaming down her face said:  "About 20 of us stayed to give statements and make sure everyone was accounted for.  The police wouldn't listen to us, they wouldn't take our names or statements.  They told us to leave.  It was completely infuriating."

N.J. state troopers face probe for 'Death Race 2012' down Parkway to AC.  The State Police are investigating complaints that two troopers escorted a caravan of luxury sports cars at speeds in excess of 100 mph down the Garden State Parkway to Atlantic City last month.  The occupants included former Giants running back and sports car enthusiast Brandon Jacobs, according to a source with knowledge of the trip.

New Jersey State Police Officers Suspended For High Speed Escort, Lawyer Plans Investigation.  The lawyer for a New Jersey state trooper who was suspended for escorting a high speed caravan of exotic cars to Atlantic City said today that such escorts "happen all the time."  Sgt. 1st Class Nadir Nassry, 47, and trooper Joseph Ventrella, 28, were suspended without pay on Monday while the New Jersey Attorney General and state police investigate the March 30 incident.

Police to White Victim: We 'Don't Mess' with Black Gang.  Most of us have heard about how the media won't report on black-on-white crime.  We also may know that authorities sometimes sweep it under the rug due to political pressure, usually with a wink and a nod.  But not so in rural Alabama, where the police actually told a white crime victim that they "don't mess" with a local black motorcycle gang.  The tragic event that led to this shocking admission occurred on March 28, as truck driver Nick Stokes and neighbor Johnathan Cooper were heading out of Birmingham hauling a portable cabin.

Hacks behaving badly? Shocking!  First time I heard this story, I was confused.  I thought it was an old story.  But then I realized I was getting it confused with a Boston firefighter being charged with threatening a Boston police officer.  Or maybe I was getting it mixed up with the other statie in Essex County, Capt. Thomas McCarthy, who last month allegedly refused to get out of his car when cops smelled beer on his breath.  He said, "You've got to be kidding me," and made a run for it down Route 1.  Even though they found beer cans in his car, the Saugus cops didn't give him a Breathalyzer test.  Capt. McCarthy made $213,474 last year.  But no, this was a different state cop behind the eight ball.

Occupy anarcho-fascists post own video of themselves destroying SF neighborhood.  The amazing part?  The San Francisco police were monitoring the whole thing, and followed behind the Occupy rioters in police vans, and yet did nothing to stop them, even after the mob attacked an officer inside a parked police car.





Other objectionable traits

Corruption:
Texas Police Chief Gets 5 Years for Selling Green Cards to Illegal Aliens.  According to court records, individuals unconnected to the City of Jarrell and its Police Department introduced Gutierrez to undocumented aliens who had money to pay for immigration benefits.  Gutierrez or the individuals who made the introductions, or both, then met with the aliens and explained the benefits they could receive if they paid certain amounts of money.  They lied to the aliens, telling them that the Jarrell Police Department would receive the money and use it to pay for law enforcement operations.  They also told the aliens that they would provide information or assistance to the Jarrell Police Department, for use in criminal investigations, in return for the immigration benefits.

Abuse of power:
More drug war anal probes, this time in Tennessee.  Last year we learned of three incidents in New Mexico in which motorists pulled over for moving violations were subjected to forced anal cavity searches, x-rays and even colonoscopies because police suspected they were hiding drugs in their bodies.  I pointed out in January that the practice has also been used in Texas, Illinois, Florida and Kansas.  It looks like Oak Ridge, Tenn., has been doing it, too.

New Jersey cop exposed himself to young male drivers during traffic stops.  A Newton police officer was arrested Monday on accusations that he unzipped his pants and exposed himself to young male drivers during "numerous" traffic stops. [...] Miller would expose his genitals to motorists "to satisfy his prurient interests" and then let them leave without issuing traffic summonses, according to a police complaint.

Abdication:
'There are no police': Ferguson store owners guard businesses with own guns; lack of police response.  Looters in Ferguson, Mo., were met with little police resistance Friday night [8/15/2014] and store owners say they were forced to protect their businesses with their own guns, Fox2Now.com reported.  "I think the first message is to remind all law enforcement that they are hired to serve and protect and if they're going to sit back and watch looting, they're not serving us; they're not protecting us," Pastor Robert White told the station.  A reporter from the station tweeted that police cars were seen driving past some of the stores being looted and did not respond.

New Police Tactic in Ferguson: Betray Local Business Owners.  The highway patrol came in with a much softer and friendlier posture and it seemed to work Thursday night [8/14/2014] in reducing tensions, but it didn't last night.  Shamefully, the cops evidently stood by while looters destroyed and stole things.  We've heard an awful lot about the function of police in our society the last few days.  Well, how about this as a function?  Protect the property of innocent people.

Store owners guard Ferguson stores with their own guns.  FOX 2 [KTVI] reporter George Sells interviews store owners that brought their own weapons to guard their store from looters.  They talked to police who the owners say were in the parking lot at Dominos and would not help.  The owners are not sure that they're going to stay in business.

Anything You Don't Say Will Be Used Against You.  In People v. Tom, California's Supreme Court justices upheld the prosecution of a man based on the district attorney's argument that the defendant's silence was evidence of guilt.  The cop shows make these matters seem simple.  A person is arrested.  The officer reads the suspect the Miranda wording.  Suspects can then clam up and wait for an attorney.  In real life, though, these matters can become more complicated and legalistic.

NYPD ordered to 'drive around flashing lights' to deter crime.  Members of the NYPD's elite Emergency Services Unit — many ex-military members who scale bridges to rescue jumpers and turn into rooftop snipers to nail hostage-takers — have been ordered to drive around the city's worst neighborhoods with their lights flashing to deter crime, The [New York] Post has learned.  The voluntary overtime shifts were ordered last month for the unit, as well as for cops in the department's highway, patrol and warrants divisions, sources said.

The Editor says...
In this case the cops are obviously just following orders, but it's hard to imagine that flashing lights will have much of an effect on criminals.

Six cops charged with robbery, kidnapping, extortion.  Stories of shakedowns, brutality, kidnapping, and theft have dogged a group of the city's Narcotics Field Unit officers for nearly a decade.  But despite multiple investigations, cases against them never stuck.  Federal prosecutors set out to change that Wednesday [7/30/2014], laying out a sprawling racketeering case against six of the unit's former members.  The charges paint them as rogue cops running roughshod over the rights of their targets, confident that few would believe anyone who dared complain.

Taking a bite out of crime statistics:
LAPD Misclassified Nearly 1,200 Violent Crimes as Minor Offenses.  The LAPD misclassified nearly 1,200 violent crimes during a one-year span ending in September 2013, including hundreds of stabbings, beatings and robberies, a[n LA] Times investigation found.  The incidents were recorded as minor offenses and as a result did not appear in the LAPD's published statistics on serious crime that officials and the public use to judge the department's performance.  Nearly all the misclassified crimes were actually aggravated assaults.  If those incidents had been recorded correctly, the total aggravated assaults for the 12-month period would have been almost 14% higher than the official figure, The [Los Angeles] Times found.  The tally for violent crime overall would have been nearly 7% higher.

Secrecy:
Under tidal wave of lawsuits, State Police agree to start obeying the law.  The Illinois State Police have come under a lot of pressure as the magnitude of the lawsuits they are facing under the Concealed Carry License procedures has become known.  Even the old media in Illinois has been complaining that the procedures are secret, people are not told why they were denied, and this is not following due process.  There are hundreds of lawsuits pending.

Organized walkout:
552 out sick during 'Blue Flu' demonstration.  Memphis Police Department canceled officers' regular days off and scheduled vacations to handle the sick calls from the so-called "Blue Flu." [...] By Sunday [7/6/2014], 308 officers had called out sick and police had an emergency meeting with the sheriff.  Later in the day Sunday, the mayor and police director held a news conference acknowledging some type of demonstration is underway.  From June 30 to early Monday, 481 officers called out.  As of early Monday evening, 522 officers are not at work.  As of Tuesday morning, the number of officers out sick stands at 552.

Blaming the victim:
Cop Crashed Into Sober Woman, Broke Her Neck, Arrested Her For Drunk Driving.  A sheriff's deputy rolled through a stop sign and crashed into another driver — 25-year-old Tanya Weyker — breaking her neck in four places.  Unbelievably, police arrested Weyker for drunk driving — even though she was sober, and even though they soon obtained surveillance video proving the deputy was at fault.  It took a year for Weyker to definitively clear her name, and she still hasn't been reimbursed by the county for damages to her vehicle and medical expenses, according to FOX 40.

Incomplete work:
Congress poised to approve $41 million to help clear backlog of untested rape kits.  Congress is poised to approve $41 million sought by the Obama administration to examine untested DNA evidence collected from rape victims and held by state and local police across the country.  No firm count exists, but recent discoveries in New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas and Detroit suggest that the nationwide total of untested kits never sent to laboratories and kept in police storage exceeds 100,000 — some of them held for decades.  Victims usually are unaware that their kits have not been tested, and members of both parties have called the backlogs a national scandal.

The Editor says...
Activists tend to call various things a "national scandal" in order to reach into Uncle Sam's bottomless pockets.  In reality, police work is local, and shoddy police work is a local scandal that should be handled locally.

Video Surfaces of Texas Police Executing Handcuffed Prisoner.  Earlier this year a grand jury declined to charge an El Paso police officer in the shooting death of a prisoner.  A video of the incidenct [sic] was published on Monday [6/16/2014], after the Texas Attorney General instructed the city to fulfill a request processed by the El Paso Times.  The events of the video are deeply unsettling, showing a police officer essentially executing a handcuffed man.

Three cops in New Mexico's infamous anal cavity search case are still on the job.  It's one of the most shocking and infamous cases to ever come out of New Mexico:  A man, falsely suspected of carrying drugs, forced to undergo multiple anal cavity searches.  Now, a year and half after the incident and six months after a settlement of $1.6 million in local taxpayer money was announced, New Mexico Watchdog has learned at least three police officers involved in the case are still on the job, while the status of three others remains a secret.  Deming Police Chief Brandon Gigante told New Mexico Watchdog all three officers in his department who were listed as defendants in a subsequent lawsuit are on active duty.  Gigante wouldn't say why or reveal if the officers were disciplined.

Conversion to Islam:
Islam: Some Religions Are More Equal Than Others.  Captain Paul Fields of the Tulsa Police was suspended and then transferred for refusing to order his officers to attend an event at the Masjid al-Salam, the Islamic Society of Tulsa (IST). [...] The officers were to meet with the leadership of the mosque, view the Quran, learn about Islam and were urged to buy pamphlets and books.  I'm sure they were also urged to convert.  Radical Islam is religious fascism.  You can bet they are moving into every police department across the nation, converting officers and recruiting warriors for Islam and Sharia — just as they are doing in the prisons.  They want the strongest warriors among us — violent or not — prisoners, athletes, military, police officers.

Dishonesty:
Academics, Magazine Confirm Big City Police Are "Disappearing" Crime.  I've been mocking the Chicago PD's numbers for three years because they were so manifestly phony.  Going back to Police Superintendent Jodi Weis in 2009, for over 30 months, the CPD would report astronomical numbers of shootings and murders every month, even for Chicago, while asserting that "overall crime is down."  As a practical matter, it is impossible for shootings and murders to remain constant or rise, while crime overall declines.

Corruption:
How One Brave Woman and Her Group of Patriots Took a Corrupt Border Sheriff Down.  For nearly two years I've worked with a source who I couldn't identify, but who deserved a great deal of credit and applause.  This person is a business owner, a mom, an investigator, and as it turns out a courageous fighter for honest government.  Faced with a corrupt sheriff in a Texas border county across the Rio Grande from a drug war, she patiently gathered up evidence of corruption and crime.  Despite credible threats to herself and her family, she persevered — and the sheriff is now among more than a dozen who have or soon will stand trial.

Soaking the taxpayers:
Retired cops 'double-dipping' with new Port Authority jobs.  The Port Authority has hired at least 11 retired cops — most from the NYPD or New Jersey — who "double dip" by collecting hefty police pensions while earning big bucks in their new posts, The [New York] Post has learned.  Most left their police jobs with pensions worth more than $80,000 a year.  With their new salaries of at least $150,000, their total take is nearly a quarter of a million dollars annually.  And the PA not only pays well, it provides perks, including a "take-home" PA car and a free E-ZPass.

Soaking the taxpayers II:
New Milford police chief's pay this year to include nearly $110,000 in vacation, sick-day payouts.  Police Chief Frank Papapietro is slated to take home more than $300,000 in pay this year, including nearly $110,000 in one-time payouts for vacation and accumulated sick days, according to a contract approved last week.  Not included in this year's payout is more than $48,000 in unpaid compensatory time — 539 hours — which Papapietro has racked up in 13 years as chief, and which he asked to be postponed in light of a recent state comptroller's investigation that found towns had improperly awarded payouts.

Lodi police chief's $342K retirement payout prompts more calls for reform.  Lodi Police Chief Vincent Caruso, whose long service was marked by a meteoric rise and controversy that nearly crippled his career, is walking away with a $342,000 check for unused time off — the latest public employee to retire with a six-figure check.  As with similar big payouts recently, Caruso's send-off has prompted calls for meaningful legislative reform on policies dictating the way such time is accumulated and reimbursed.

Sluggish response:
Family calls 911 when intruder tries to enter home, waits hours before police show up.  [Terri] Bice believes it wasn't the door, but barking from Molly that stopped the intruder in their tracks.  So, she did what anyone would do.  Grabbed her phone and dialed 9-1-1.  She got no answer.  "We all know about first responders and what their importance is that's not going to happen if no one answers," said Bice.  She documented her calls for help:  two to 911; two to the NOPD's non-emergency line; and one to NOPD's Second District.  The final call was answered and Bice confirms an officer showed up two hours after the attempted home invasion.

Florida man calls 911 during home invasion, gets transferred to voicemail.  A Florida homeowner who called 911 during a violent home invasion Wednesday morning [6/11/2014] was transferred to voicemail at the height of the incident when the dispatcher tried to pass the call from the fire department line to police, MyFoxTampaBay.com reported.  Women could be heard screaming during the wait as the recording advised, "If this is an emergency, hang up and dial 911."

Immorality:
Hawaii law allows undercover police officers to have sex with prostitutes.  Honolulu police officers have urged lawmakers to keep an exemption in state law that allows undercover officers to have sex with prostitutes during investigations, touching off a heated debate.

Trigger-happy aggressiveness:
Cop arrives at traffic accident, shoots Air Force airman, chief calls it "appropriate force'.  [Scroll down]  Eventually, Officer Phillip Hancock arrived on scene. Accounts differ as to what happened next.  Davidson's father claimed that Hancock shot his son almost immediately.  "They couldn't have been there three or four seconds when I was shot," said Davidson, according to his father's account.  Police Chief John McEachern, on the other hand, said that Hancock did not not fire until coming to the erroneous conclusion that Davidson was a threat.  Hancock ordered Davidson to put his hands on his head, and then fired, according to McEachern.

Power-crazed enthusiasm:
Connecticut Officer Under Investigation for Desire to "kick your door in and take your guns".  Every officer is taught that "following orders" is not an excuse for violating constitutional rights.

Cop: I'd Love to 'Bang down Your Door and Come for Your Gun'.  How would you feel if a police officer you knew for 20 years told you that if an order were issued to confiscate your guns, he wouldn't hesitate to "kick your door in"?  This was the precisely the experience Connecticut resident, Navy veteran and former firefighter John Cinque had after commenting on his state's 2013 violation of the Second Amendment.

Corruption:
Corruption in the City of Brotherly Love.  Philadelphia Daily News reporters Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker have written two powerful series of articles on abuse, corruption, and intimidation within the city, state, and federal government.  These stories read like something out of a political thriller. [...] The authors found that some police were as corrupt as the criminals they targeted.  These detectives terrorized hardworking legal immigrant shop owners, sexually assaulted women, and fabricated search warrants.

18 Los Angeles sheriff's deputies arrested in federal jail investigation.  One federal indictment filed Nov. 20 named seven deputies charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

Graft:
Third of California Town's Officers Tied to Scheme.  One-third of a central California town's police force was taken off duty after several officers were arrested in a scheme to take for themselves the impounded cars of some poor Hispanic residents, authorities said.

Retaliation:
Fla. Trooper Who Stopped Cop Sues After Harassment.  Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Donna Jane Watts [...] is suing those police agencies and the individual officers under the federal Driver Privacy Protection Act, a 1994 law that provides for a penalty of $2,500 for each violation if the information was improperly accessed.

Participating in a political vendetta:
Political terrorism in Wisconsin: The American Police state begins.  Cops are bursting into homes, seizing computers and other "evidence" while groups are being hit with subpoenas that require them to turn over voluminous and sensitive information — including the names of political donors. [...] In Wisconsin, special prosecutor Francis Schmitz is going after conservative groups that were involved in the fight over the recall of Governor Scott Walker and Walker's union reforms.  Subpoenas are requesting "all records of income received, including fundraising information and the identity of persons contributing to the corporation."  They are seeking lists of conservative donors.

Do as I say, whatever that may be.
Oregon Man Wins Lawsuit After Being Unlawfully Detained While On His Front Lawn Getting His Mail.  Kevin Hall of Corvallis, OR brought a suit against the city for the unlawful detention he experienced last October.  While walking to his mailbox to retrieve his mail, while also open carrying a firearm, Hall was approached by Corvallis Police Officer James Dodge.  When Dodge approached, Hall asked him if he was being detained, Dodge replied no but would like to talk to Hall.  Since he wasn't being detained and wasn't doing anything wrong Hall started to return to his house when he was stopped by Dodge and told him NOW he was being detained.  I guess, according to Officer Dodge, you are free to leave until you actually try to leave, then you are detained.

Sheriff Believes in Right to Bear Arms, Unless you Actually do.  The vast majority of murders are committed by a small minority of violent individuals who have a long history of violence and criminal convictions.

Cops are everywhere.
Undercover Police, Just About Everywhere.  The unrestrained surveillance in New York public life is the physical embodiment of what has been taking place online over the last decade under operations of the National Security Agency revealed by Edward J. Snowden.  To borrow the title of a 1918 novel about nosy Irish villagers, we have become The Valley of the Squinting Windows.  But it was all O.K. because the mayor and the police commissioner said so, though from the outside, no one could really say what they were up to.

The cop is the "victim" after his wholesale use of pepper spray:
UC Davis pepper-spray officer awarded $38,000.  A former UC Davis police officer whose pepper-spraying of protesters gained worldwide notice thanks to a viral video has been awarded more than $38,000 in workers' compensation from the university for suffering he experienced after the incident.  Former police Lt. John Pike, who gained a degree of infamy for his role in the incident, was awarded the settlement Oct. 16 by the state Division of Workers' Compensation Appeals Board.

Harvesting data from government agencies:
Obamacare Marketplace: Personal Data Can Be Used For 'Law Enforcement and Audit Activities'.  Maryland's Health Connection, the state's Obamacare marketplace, has been plagued by delays in the first days of open enrollment.  If users are able to endure long page-loading delays, they are presented with the website's privacy policy, a ubiquitous fine-print feature on websites that often go unread.  Nevertheless, users are asked to check off a box that they agree to the terms.

Your Personal Data Can Be Used For 'Law Enforcement, Audit Activities'.  Maryland's Health Connection, the state's Obamacare marketplace, has been plagued by delays in the first days of open enrollment.  If users are able to endure long page-loading delays, they are presented with the website's privacy policy, a ubiquitous fine-print feature on websites that often go unread.  Nevertheless, users are asked to check off a box that they agree to the terms.

Obamacare Exchange Confirms: 'We Are Required to Respond to Certain Requests from Law Enforcement'.  An email had been sent to the MHC on October 3 requesting clarification of the policy, and included these inquires:  Does that include both federal and state authorities?  What type of information from the application might be of interest to law enforcement and/or state/federal auditors?  However, no response was received before the story was published.

An unnecessary show of force:
Police presence inside a showing of 'The Butler' causes outrage.  [Tiffany Flowers] said that after waiting in line and having their tickets double validated, with the second ticket taker just ten feet from the first employee to tear their stubs, she and Hanson approached the theater entrance, only to find a police officer directing people's movements.  Flowers told theGrio the officer "herded everybody to the right, and then around the corner there's another police officer, then we round the corner and there's a third police officer."  She said the police who remained inside the theater throughout the show were not in uniform, but dressed in all black with their badges exposed, and wearing bullet-proof vests, and that she later learned they were contracted by the Montgomery County Police Department.

"They Kidnapped our Child": Why CPS Needs Transparency Now.  In April 2013, police officers and a social worker from Sacramento County's Child Protective Services entered the home of Anna and Alex Nikolayev and took their baby, Sammy, away from them.  They had no warrant.  "What they'd done was, basically, kidnapped our child with the help of police," says Alex Nikolayev.  The young, first-time parents were not notified of where Sammy was being taken and wouldn't find out for a full 24 hours.

Collusion with Big Brother:
NSA tips off law enforcement, asks them to keep the practice secret.  Just days after the NYT wrote about the NSA denying other federal intelligence agencies access to their surveillance tools comes the disclosure that a US Drug Enforcement Administration unit called Special Operations Division (SOD) has been channeling information collected by the NSA to law enforcement agencies in order to help them start investigations of suspected criminals.  The SOD, whose existence is little known to the greater public, is a sort of middleman that receives information regarding traditional criminal activities and suspected perpetrators gathered by the NSA via wiretaps, informants, intelligence intercepts, and decides how much of it to share with which field offices and agents.

NEW Spying Scandal — Is This One the Last Straw?  The NSA is spying on you and sharing this information with the DEA.  The DEA is then sharing this information with local law enforcement.  If you get arrested because of this, abandon all hope because [#1] Law enforcement is hiding where the evidence came from[, and #2] This means you cannot effectively challenge the evidence in court.  But it gets worse... The DEA unit responsible for this program — the ominous sounding Special Operations Division — is a secret organization.  It cannot be investigated by defense attorneys or called into court.  Even the location of the Special Operations Division is classified.

The NSA-DEA police state tango.  In the latest post-Snowden bombshell about the extent and consequences of government spying, we learned from Reuters reporters this week that a secret branch of the DEA called the Special Operations Division — so secret that nearly everything about it is classified, including the size of its budget and the location of its office — has been using the immense pools of data collected by the NSA, CIA, FBI and other intelligence agencies to go after American citizens for ordinary drug crimes.  Law enforcement agencies, meanwhile, have been coached to conceal the existence of the program and the source of the information by creating what's called a "parallel construction," a fake or misleading trail of evidence.  So no one in the court system — not the defendant or the defense attorney, not even the prosecutor or the judge — can ever trace the case back to its true origins.

This kind of behavior is frowned upon.
Pigeon Forge police chief fires 3 officers who discussed killing other officers.  Pigeon Forge Police Chief Jack Baldwin said today [7/2/2013] that he fired three officers who were caught on an in-cruiser video discussing the killing of other officers. [...] Baldwin said they were fired for conduct incompatible with continued employment.

Only the finest:
Chicago Cop Arrested Four Times in Seven Years Still Working, Makes $80K.  Chicago Police Officer Richard A. Rizzo has been arrested four times in the past seven years, but that's not enough to get him fired from the department.  Rizzo has been arrested for domestic battery, child endangerment and aggravated assault with a gun.

Gun buy-back programs are the latest cash cow for the cops:
Police Selling Guns from Buyback Program.  St. Charles Police Chief James Lamkin said about 20 firearms obtained through a gun buyback program and seized by courts will be sold to the dealers, the Chicago Tribune reported Friday [5/31/2013].  "There's value in these guns," Lamkin said.  "They're not illegal guns.  Quite honestly, it's a bottom line for us."

Making up laws on the spot:
Harassed by Police and Charged with Crimes for Legal Possession and Sale of Knives.  On April 13th, 2013, three police officers entered the weekend market and told me that my knives "looked to be prohibited."  They had no search warrant but removed me from the booth and proceeded to search from one end to the other.  I was patted down and my SA pocket knife (legal) was taken.  I told them I use it to open packages, boxes, and such.

Letting personal politics interfere:
Woman threatened with arrest because of a bumper sticker.  A Denver police sergeant is under investigation for allegedly threatening to arrest a woman Monday [1/24/2005] for displaying on her truck a derogatory bumper sticker about President Bush.  "He told her that this was a warning and that the next time he saw her truck, she was going to be arrested if she didn't remove the sticker," said Alinna Figueroa, 25, assistant manager of The UPS Store where the confrontation took place.  "I couldn't believe it."

Embezzlement:
Former Oklahoma Undersheriff Jason Bone Pocketed Thousands in Drug Money.  Former Love County Oklahoma undersheriff Jason Bone was recently arrested and charged on four felony counts of embezzlement.  Jason Bone resigned amid an O.S.B.I. investigation into missing funds.

Hired despite disqualifications:
Culpeper Cop Who Shot and Killed Patricia Cook Sentenced to Three Years in Prison.  [Scroll down]  As I've written before, this could've been avoided if Harmon-Wright had been properly screened for the job:  ["]Soon after Harmon-Wright was arrested, it was revealed that he had a tarnished military record, a drinking problem, and a history of harassing Culpeper residents.  The first two problems nearly kept him from getting the job, and no one at the Culpeper Police Department will say why they didn't.["]

Officer faces lawsuit over warrantless entry and arrest:
Lawsuit accuses Lexington officer of wrongful arrest.  A man has filed a federal lawsuit against a Lexington police officer alleging that the officer forced his way into the man's home without a warrant and charged him with several offenses that were later dismissed. [...] In a lawsuit filed April 26 in U.S. District Court, Richard Alex Vidal said he was at his home on Park Avenue between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. on April 28, 2012, when officer Ronald Kornrumpf came to the back door without an arrest warrant or search warrant.  The officer allegedly demanded that Vidal disclose his name.

Malfeasance:
Trouble inside the city's prisons.  We're talking about sex between officers and inmates, between correctional staffers and each other, between underlings and superiors.  Drug use.  Securing contraband for inmates.  Rampant lateness and doctoring of time cards.  Officers leaving posts unattended while they take long lunches or socialize with prisoners, who wander freely in areas that are supposed to be restricted or locked down.  Oh, and napping — lots and lots of napping.  Worse, the letters allege, the offenders are in favored cliques, which means their supervisors overlook their behavior.  Unconnected workers get written up for piddling offenses.

How Louis Farrakhan got a police escort for his 'unofficial motorcade'.  Wouldn't it be great if you could get a police car to accompany you for "traffic control" when you drive somewhere?  It would be sort of like the president, except for the bulletproof limo and Secret Service.  Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, despite lacking any public office, has enjoyed such convenience, courtesy of his son Mustapha, whose arrangements to drive a police car for escorting his father's "unofficial motorcade" are currently under investigation by a police agency in Illinois.

The City of Chicago Declared War on Cop Bloggers!  The Chicago Police Department just promulgated a new General Order to its membership regarding blogging or posting on Social Media.  It effectively outlaws posting anything not officially approved by the department.  The penalty for disobedience is termination from employment.

How the LAPD Lost my Trust.  I am a certified firearms instructor who has taught CCW classes in Arizona since the beginning of the CCW program there in 1994.  As we are on the border with California, I watch the developments there with some interest.  Unfortunately, nearly everything that I have read and heard about the LAPD and guns has lead me to distrust them.

Ineffectiveness:
The Monsters that Walk Among Us.  Not every criminal — or even every murderer — sinks to the level of depravity occupied by the likes of the Tsarnaev brothers and Ariel Castro.  But consider:  The Boston Globe reported that police solved 43 percent of the city's murders in 2012, leaving 57 percent of the killers out and about and free to kill again.  In Ariel Castro's Cleveland the police do a better job of things, with a 2012 murder clearance rate of 69 percent, but that still leaves 31 percent of its killers on the loose.  And in Chicago, a mere 132 of the city's 507 murders that occurred in 2012 were solved, for a clearance rate of just 26 percent.

Malfeasance:
Utah trooper accused of making false DUI arrests.  During her 10 years as a Utah state trooper, Lisa Steed built a reputation as an officer with a knack for nabbing drunken motorists in a state with a long tradition of teetotaling and some of the nation's strictest liquor laws.

Greed:
Chicago Police Want 12% Raise.  Days after the Chicago Police Department announced it will no longer respond to 911 calls for criminal damage to property, vehicle thefts, garage burglaries, or other crimes in which the suspect is no longer on the scene, the Fraternal Order of Police (Chicago police union) is demanding a 12 percent raise.

Corruption:
Corruption scandal shocks, saddens metro law enforcement.  All eight Forest Park police sergeants were called to the department Tuesday for routine training.  Victor Middlebrook and Andrew Monroe, two solid officers recently promoted to sergeant, were teamed up and told to head to their training station.  They then walked into a room filled with federal agents and their boss, Chief Dwayne Hobbs, who was having one of the worst days of his 40-year career.  The two sergeants were being arrested, accused of being part of a group of Atlanta area officers who allegedly served as bodyguards for agents posing as drug dealers.

Nationalized police:
Obama executive order expands Homeland Security reach into local law enforcement.  President Barack Obama signed an executive order Friday that expanded the Department of Homeland Security's ties to local law enforcement.  The executive order creates a White House Homeland Security Partnership Council and Steering Committee, aimed at fostering local partnerships between federal and private institutions "to address homeland security challenges."

Tyranny:
Martial Law in One City.  "The fear is what's given us the reason to do this," insisted Todd Stovall, the head functionary of the paramilitary occupation force afflicting Paragould, Arkansas, as he announced that the city would be placed under martial law for the supposed purpose of deterring crime.  "Once I have stats and people are saying they're scared, we can do this.  It allows us to do what we're fixing to do."  What Stovall and his fellow tax-feeders are "fixing to do" is to leave the city's streets clotted with SWAT operators toting AR-15s and official permission to harass anybody who comes within eyeshot.

A Clear Case of Armed Robbery (and More).  If a private citizen were to have done what this officer allegedly did, I can assure you that he or she would be arrested and held on a very high bond.  There is no way around the fact that this would constitute an armed robbery, and a district attorney easily could — and would — make that case.  However, in this situation, the police officer is on paid leave and the other officer still is working his regular job at Denver's International Airport.

Want Some Fries With That Felony, Officer?  Two of Denver's "Finest" placed an order at a McDonald's drive-through in the early morning hours of May 21 [2009].  Distressed over what they perceived to be unsatisfactory service, the officers became agitated, and one of them "flashed his police badge and pointed a pistol through the drive through window in a threatening manner, before driving off without paying," reports the local CBS affiliate.

90-plus arrests of D.C. cops in under 4 years.  In the past three and a half years, more than 90 D.C. police officers — from detectives to captains to the rank-and-file cops on the street — have been arrested, a Washington Examiner analysis of police data has revealed.  Metropolitan Police Department officers have been nabbed within the District and as far away as Florida.  They've been arrested on charges ranging from to child pornography to murder.  The majority are DUI and domestic violence arrests, though some cases stand out.

Citizen-Journalist Confronts Militarized Cops.  Students were not told that militarized cops would be conducting a "live shooter" drill at Chaminade University in Cincinnati on Wednesday [9/12/2012].  A citizen journalist concerned about the brazen in-your-face "training" confronted the cops and demanded answers.

Tempers flaring as gas lines continue to frustrate drivers.  [Scroll down]  Cops, trying to keep order, threatened to close down the station after customers screamed at officers who were allowing first responders cut into hours-long lines.  The police-sanctioned line cutters showed their official IDs but were almost always in unmarked cars and not in uniform.  Civilian customers complained that cops were clearly allowing colleagues, not on the job, to fuel up for personal use.

Color of office
Black's Law Dictionary,
Sixth Edition, page 266. 

The Nifonging of George Zimmerman.  No civilized society can tolerate a sheep dog that turns on the sheep, or a police officer or prosecutor who uses his or her authority against innocent people for personal or political gain.

Feds in Kalispell taking Drivers Photos as they passed by the Fire Truck road barriers.  Heading west on Hwy 2 we approached what we thought was an accident, fire trucks, a sign that said accident ahead and fireman with signs saying slow, the fire trucks were blocking the right lane which made you go around them and when you followed their directions, they placed us in front of two officers holding digital/face recognition cameras!  I recognized the cameras from when I had to go to Homeland security for my TWIC card in Florida.  There was no accident!

Tyranny:
Choose your Poison, Communism or Other Dictatorship?  We no longer live in a free country; we just have an illusion of freedom.  When I first came to the United States, I recoiled in fear every time I saw a cop. [...] It took me a good three years to get over the fear of police, the sheriff, and the highway patrol. [...] I see America moving in that direction. [...] I see police everywhere, most are in unmarked cars, different types of vehicle, and hard to detect.  If they are here to serve us and receive taxpayer dollars, if I do not know who they are, how will I be able to ask for help in case of an emergency?  They are here to harass, catch and ticket speeders, control us, stop us, and cameras are everywhere.

Fabrication of evidence:
The Supreme Court Again Upholds Your Right to Be Framed.  In 2009, Elena Kagan, then-solicitor general, argued before the Supreme Court that prior to trial, a defendant has no right not to be framed, because false evidence does no real harm until it is actually used in court.  "Fabrication Of Evidence During An Investigation Does Not, By Itself, Violate The Constitution" read one of the subject headings of her brief. [...] How does this play out in the real world?  The vast majority of criminal cases never go to trial at all; they are settled with plea bargains.

Falsified records:
The Border Conspiracy: Exclusive Videos Show How One Texas County Fakes Crime Statistics to Make the Border Look Safe.  PJ Media has obtained exclusive hidden camera video that shows federal grant money creates an incentive for local law enforcement to falsify their crime statistics.  The fake stats tell a story that ends up benefiting the local agencies that clamor for the grants, while helping Washington sell its story that the border is safer than it really is.

Abuse of power:
Ohio Police Officer Loses It — Threatens Citizen and Suggests Street Justice of Execution.  Police abuse stories are probably becoming more numerous not because they really are, but because modern technology makes it more difficult for rogue officers to get away with it.  Case in point, a recent stop in Ohio resulted in video footage of terrible abuse of power by a police officer who discovers the driver of the car was legally carrying a firearm.

Not Being a Felon Is Not Enough to Avoid Going to Federal Prison for Being a Felon in Possession of a Gun.  Following some lengthy, in-depth investigative work, USA Today has discovered more than 60 North Carolina men serving federal sentences for violating gun laws it turns out they didn't actually violate.

The Arrival of The Police State.  How many times have you seen a police officer and been afraid?  Have you ever been worried just by the mere act of speaking to an officer of the law, that you might get in trouble?  Police officers are public servants, with their original intent to be "Serve and Protect" the citizens.  Somehow we have moved far away from that purpose.

Police shoot dead a woman standing inside her front door defending against government intrusion!  This family was just fine living in peace until the Census-taker knocked at their door, was turned away and called police.

Unnecessary secrecy:
Public has almost no access to new police radios.  A new police and fire communications system designed to help emergency crews stay in touch also means the news media has less access to information about incidents affecting the public.  Abilene police and fire departments recently ditched an 18-year-old dispatch system for a new $14 million system that has better encryption capabilities and keeps many of the conversations people using police scanners are accustomed to hearing off the air.

Retaliation:
Phoenix Cops Raid Blogger Critical of Police.  In what should send a frightening chill down the spine of every blogger, writer, journalist and First Amendment advocate in the United States, Phoenix police raided the home of a blogger who has been highly critical of the department.  Jeff Pataky, who runs Bad Phoenix Cops, said the officers confiscated three computers, routers, modems, hard drives, memory cards and everything necessary to continue blogging.  The 41-year-old software engineer said they also confiscated numerous personal files and documents relating to a pending lawsuit he has against the department alleging harassment — which he says makes it obvious the raid was an act of retaliation.

Malfeasance:
Cases Dropped Due to Alleged Police Corruption.  What is going on in the Bay Area?  Prosecutors there have been forced to dismiss over 800 (800!) criminal cases there in the past year because of allegations of police corruption, including selling drug evidence, conducting unlawful searches and conspiring to get men drunk and then arrest them on drunk-driving charges, WSJ reports.  There are two pending federal investigations into the allegations.

Malfeasance:
Why are the jail cells empty?  Detroit has lost hundreds of sworn officers in recent years.  The Police Department didn't respond to repeated requests for interviews with its top leaders, but it released preliminary statistics showing an overall decline in criminal activity this year, despite a 24% increase in homicides.  East-sider Joyce Betty, 56, isn't buying it.  Last February, a young assailant snatched Betty's purse, which contained $300 in cash, while she pumped gas at a Mack Avenue filling station.  Surveillance cameras captured the crime on videotape, but police never responded.

Detroit police routinely underreport homicides.  The Detroit Police Department is systematically undercounting homicides, leading to a falsely low murder rate in a city that regularly ranks among the nation's deadliest, a Detroit News review of police and medical examiner records shows.  The police department incorrectly reclassified 22 of its 368 slayings last year as "justifiable" and did not report them as homicides to the FBI as required by federal guidelines.

You must obey and instantly submit.
After lights, sirens on I-94, lots of questions.  A state trooper rammed a Hudson, Wis., man's van on New Year's Eve and arrested him for fleeing a traffic stop because he did not quickly pull over.  The driver, who had his kids along, says he was looking for a safe place to stop.

The Sacred Cause of 'Officer Safety'.  In the sacred cause of "officer safety," no precaution is excessive, no imposition unjustified — and no constitutional "guarantee" of individual rights is binding.

Bypassing due process:
Cops Raid Home Without Warrant.  While the details surrounding this case are unclear, according to the law, in some states, "bail enforcement agents," or bounty hunters, can enter a home without a warrant, but only if it's the home of the fugitive they are trying to apprehend.  Under the 4th amendment, police need probable cause and a search warrant to enter private homes.  Only in police states and fascist dictatorships is this not the case.

Fishing expedition:
South Euclid police stop 277 drivers at a sobriety checkpoint, find no drunken drivers.  Police operated a sobriety checkpoint Friday night [7/30/2010] and did not encounter any drunken drivers.  But five drivers were cited for talking on their cell phones; seven were cited for driving with a suspended license; eight were cited for not having their license with them; and six were cited for not wearing their seat belts.

The Editor says...
Something tells me this was never intended as a "sobriety" checkpoint at all.

Another fishing expedition:
You Can Leave Any Time You Want.  TSA agents interrogated [Steve] Bierfeldt for over a half hour and would not allow him to continue to his gate until he answered some very directed questions:  "Where do you work?"  "What are you planning to do with the money?"  "Where did you acquire the money?"  Although having nothing to hide, Bierfeldt, in an effort to maintain his privacy, refused to answer the questions.  The officers retaliated by further detaining him and asking viciously demeaning questions.  As far as they were concerned, Bierfeldt could be prevented from moving freely so long as he refused to answer every prying inquiry they might conjure up.  To them, if he wished to keep his privacy, then he should have wallowed in the safety of his own home.  Bierfeldt never answered their questions, and they eventually let him go in time to catch his flight.

TSA Agents Harass Man Over Silver Coins.  A traveler flying into Los Angeles was questioned by the TSA about his small collection of silver coins, another example of how the federal agency is acting more like a secret police unit than an airport security outfit, routinely interrogating Americans about their financial affairs.

The Editor says...
TSA cops really are the dregs of the law enforcement industry.  They are only a little better than the rent-a-cops found in shopping malls.  The writers of the next two items apparently agree.

A Grope A Day Keeps Osama Away.  Compare [an airport screening] with a traffic stop.  A motorist has the name and badge number of the officer and local number to call if there's a complaint.  If worse comes to worst, often you have the video from the dashboard camera to review.  TSA has none of this.  TSA employees have assumed the trappings of law enforcement without any of the training or responsibility.  Consider the evolution of TSA uniforms.  From the original white shirt with no badge we now have a blue uniform with a shiny gold badge, indistinguishable from that of a real police officer.  Yet TSA guards lack the training of even a rural policeman.

10 of the Most Outrageous TSA Horror Stories:  The people employed by the Transportation Security Administration, commonly referred to as "agents," as though they were educated professionals such as the men and women deployed by the FBI, are all-too-often little more than minimum-wage thugs.  They frequently harass innocent travelers, leaving them feeling insulted, molested, humiliated and degraded past the point that any law-abiding citizen should have to endure.

Arrogance:
Violence by and against police will only escalate.  There was a time when police officers were integrated members of their community.  Squad cars all over America bore the slogan "To Protect and Serve" on their fenders.  No more.  The men and women in blue are no longer police officers.  They're Law Enforcers.  They don't exist to protect or serve their fellow citizens; they look down on everyone who isn't a cop as "mere civilians."  Their job is to protect themselves and to serve the interests of their immediate superiors.

Suit: Cop used ticket to try for date.  A Chicagoland cop may find himself on the wrong side of the law after a woman says he used his badge to try to score a date.  Evangelina Paredes filed court papers last week accusing Stickney police Officer Chris Collins of violating her privacy when he used Department of Motor Vehicle records to locate her address — after he gave her a ticket for speeding, The Associated Press reported.

Former detective testifies:
We fabricated drug charges against innocent people to meet arrest quotas.  A former NYPD narcotics detective snared in a corruption scandal testified it was common practice to fabricate drug charges against innocent people to meet arrest quotas.  The bombshell testimony from Stephen Anderson is the first public account of the twisted culture behind the false arrests in the Brooklyn South and Queens narc squads, which led to the arrests of eight cops and a massive shakeup.

Heroin Burritos a Big Hit in LA County Jail.  The latest food trend to strike California would be burritos stuffed with heroin and refried beans and cheese that can be found in the Los Angeles County Jail served by allegedly corrupt sheriff's deputies.

In Florida, You're Presumed Guilty.  Florida is one of two states (the other is Washington) afflicted with drug possession statutes that don't require the government to prove criminal intent.  The statute permits defendants to offer an affirmative defense of "unwitting possession" — which means that the defendant, not the state, has the burden of proof.  The state Supreme Court, ruling the recent case of Florida v. Adkins, has rejected a challenge to that statute filed on behalf of dozens of defendants awaiting trial on drug possession charges.

How Facebook Helped a Small Town Fight Back Against a Crooked Cop.  [Scroll down]  It's fair to say the town would still be shrouded in silence if Jennings hadn't spoken up in support of the Cook family, including Gary Cook, Patricia's devastated husband.  "There is a fear of speaking up or speaking out against authority," says Jennings, who isn't done making noise.  Now he wants the chief of police in Culpeper to hold a public post-mortem explaining why Harmon-Wright was hired despite objections from within the department.

The Editor says...
Apparently "Harmon-Wright" refers to one of the central figures in this story, altough the writer offers no antecedent for this hyphenated surname.

Injustice Everywhere:  The National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project.

So much for credibility...
Teachers Defend Tactics in Hoax DWI Program.  On a Monday morning last month, highway patrol officers visited 20 classrooms at El Camino High School to announce some horrible news:  Several students had been killed in car wrecks over the weekend.  Classmates wept.  Some became hysterical.  A few hours and many tears later, though, the pain turned to fury when the teenagers learned that it was all a hoax — a scared-straight exercise designed by school officials to dramatize the consequences of drinking and driving.

The Editor asks...
How much respect does a student give to the police after the cops are shown to be liars?

NJ corrections officer, 5 NYPD officers arrested in gun-smuggling sting.  A sting operation resulted in the arrests of 12 people, including five New York Police Department officers, on charges that they smuggled $1 million worth of firearms, cigarettes and slot machines they thought were stolen, authorities said Tuesday [10/25/2011].

Feds: Two Chicago cops took orders from Latin Kings.  A bistate crackdown on the Latin Kings street gang on Friday [11/18/2011] snared two Chicago Police officers accused of using their badges to rob people in Northwest Indiana and Illinois.  Their arrests were part of a broader crackdown against gang members and associates accused of taking part in 19 murders, attempted murder, drug trafficking, kidnapping and weapons violations, mostly in Chicago and Indiana but stretching down to Texas, said U.S. Attorney David Capp of the Northern District of Indiana.

Bailiff charged in 3 rapes.  A Boston bailiff turned the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse into his personal sex den where he forced shackled inmates to perform sex acts on him, prosecutors said.  Michael Rubino, 35, of Braintree was released on $2,000 bail yesterday after being arraigned in Middlesex Superior Court on charges he raped two female prisoners a total of three times — twice in a courtroom and once in an elevator.

Cops chase statie eyed in a sex act.  The fed-up commander of the state police lashed out at the latest trooper to be arrested — this time on charges he was caught in an unmarked pickup in the midst of a sex act with an alleged hooker — saying the officer tarnished the badge.

Lotto tickets bought with bags of coins lead to bust in massive Metro theft.  A long-running scam to steal thousands of Metro riders' fares unraveled this week after a man in a police uniform driving a Jaguar bought thousands of Virginia lottery tickets with bags and bags of apparently stolen coins.  A tip about the odd purchases led authorities to an extensive investigation involving GPS-tracked cars, surveillance videos from Woodbridge gas stations and money drops by an Alexandria underpass.

FBI investigating drug bust by New Orleans area police officers.  The FBI has opened an investigation into the recent arrest of a 25-year-old New Orleans man by a multi-jurisdictional police task force, after the man's attorneys claimed that officers ordered him to take them to his French Quarter apartment where they stole $3,500.

Detroit citizens no longer rely on police as self-defense killings skyrocket.
911 is a Joke.  Justifiable homicide in the city [of Detroit] shot up 79 percent in 2011 from the previous year, as citizens in the long-suffering city armed themselves and took matters into their own hands.  The local rate of self-defense killings now stands 2,200 percent above the national average.  Residents, unable to rely on a dwindling police force to keep them safe, are fighting back against the criminal scourge on their own.  And they're offering no apologies. ... The last time [Detroit resident Julia] Brown, 73, called the Detroit police, they didn't show up until the next day.

Metro transit police: Not quite the region's finest.  While police in Maryland, Virginia and the District work to keep the region safe, also among the mix is the Metro transit system's lesser-known 600-member force, which uniquely has law enforcement authority across all three jurisdictions.  But records suggest that the agency has conducted little enforcement of the transit system's everyday rules and that the department also counts among its ranks people who have been arrested for violent and predatory crimes.

If it had been a Christian event, we'd be hearing howls about Separation of Church and State.
Creeping Sharia on the Tulsa PD?  The Tulsa PD is punishing a police captain for refusing to attend an Islamic "cultural event" at a local mosque.





Property seizures

See also Gun seizures in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Highway seizure in Iowa fuels debate about asset-forfeiture laws.  By the time the encounter was over, the gamblers had been detained for more than two hours.  Their car was searched without a warrant.  And their cellphones, a computer and $100,020 of their gambling "bankroll" were seized under state civil asset-forfeiture laws.  The troopers allowed them to leave, without their money, after issuing a traffic warning and a citation for possession of marijuana paraphernalia that carried a $65 fine, court records show.  Months later, an attorney for the men obtained a video of the stop.  It showed that the motorists were detained for a violation they did not commit — a failure to signal during a lane change — and authorities were compelled to return 90 percent of the money.

Police Use Department Wish List When Deciding Which Assets to Seize.  The seminars offered police officers some useful tips on seizing property from suspected criminals.  Don't bother with jewelry (too hard to dispose of) and computers ("everybody's got one already"), the experts counseled.  Do go after flat screen TVs, cash and cars.  Especially nice cars.  In one seminar, captured on video in September, Harry S. Connelly Jr., the city attorney of Las Cruces, N.M., called them "little goodies."  And then Mr. Connelly described how officers in his jurisdiction could not wait to seize one man's "exotic vehicle" outside a local bar.

IRS uses drug trafficking and terror laws to seize bank accounts from taxpayers without ANY proof of a crime.  The federal government is using a legal process called 'civil forfeiture' to seize massive amounts of money from unsuspecting Americans — without alleging that they've committed any crimes. [...] In one case, the IRS took $446,000 from a mostly cash-only small business that distributes candy, snacks and cigarettes to convenience stores.  Brothers Jeffrey, Richard and Mitch Hirsch lost that money two years ago when the federal government raided their bank account.  In another, the government grabbed $33,000 from Iowa restaurateur Carole Hinders, who deals only in cash.  No criminal charges have been brought in either case.

Asset seizures fuel police spending.  Police agencies have used hundreds of millions of dollars taken from Americans under federal civil forfeiture law in recent years to buy guns, armored cars and electronic surveillance gear.  They have also spent money on luxury vehicles, travel and a clown named Sparkles.  The details are contained in thousands of annual reports submitted by local and state agencies to the Justice Department's Equitable Sharing Program, an initiative that allows local and state police to keep up to 80 percent of the assets they seize.

American shakedown: Police won't charge you, but they'll grab your money.  It usually starts on the road somewhere.  An officer pulls you over for some minor infraction — changing lanes without proper signalling, following the car ahead too closely, straddling lanes.  The offence is irrelevant.  Then the police officer wants to chat, asking questions about where you're going, or where you came from, and why.  He'll peer into your car, then perhaps ask permission to search it, citing the need for vigilance against terrorist weaponry or drugs.  What he's really looking for, though, is money.

Over $455,000 Seized from Medical Marijuana Patient Slapped with Civil Asset Forfeiture.  In March 2013, Steve Oates' home in Goodyear, Ariz. was stormed by police, SWAT, and DEA agents because of a marijuana grow room in the guest house.  "It was like something you see in the movies.  It was 6:30 in the morning, and basically you hear 'bang! bang! bang!' on the door, and next thing you know you hear the crash of a battering ram," says Oates.

Philly sued over $6-million civil asset forfeiture habit.  It's a stultifying name for a frequently abused tool in law enforcement's arsenal.  Civil asset forfeiture is the name for the state's ability to take your stuff if they suspect it's been used in the commission of the crime.  The problem is your stuff isn't presumed innocent, and therefore getting it back can be a nightmare from which law-abiding citizens emerge stuff-less.  The Institute for Justice, my favorite law firm for economic liberty, is suing the city of Philadelphia over its takings of property from thousands of citizens.  The civil forfeiture apparatus in Philadelphia racks up $6 million a year, according to IJ.

Stopping police asset-forfeiture predators.  When the public is more afraid of the cops than the bad guys, the system is broken. [...] A 64-year-old Texas woman, for example, was accused of being a drug dealer simply because she was carrying cash in her pickup truck from the sale of her land.  The cops took her money, though she had never been convicted of a crime in her life.  She had to sue in federal court to get all of her money back.  A family grocery store in Michigan was threatened by the IRS for "money laundering" because they handled money in the way their insurance policy required.  Car owners giving friends a lift in New York City suffer their vehicles seized because the Taxi Commission thinks they're operating an illegal cab.  Outrages like these have happened in every state in the union.

13 Ways The American Police State Squanders Your Tax Dollars.  [#3]  $6 billion in assets seized by the federal government in one year alone.  Relying on the topsy-turvy legal theory that one's property cannot only be guilty of a crime but is also guilty until proven innocent, government agencies have eagerly cashed in on the civil asset forfeiture revenue scheme, which allows police to seize private property they "suspect" may be connected to criminal activity.  Then whether or not any crime is actually proven to have taken place, the cops keeps the citizen's property.  Eighty percent of these asset forfeiture cases result in no charge against the property owner.  Some states are actually considering expanding the use of asset forfeiture laws to include petty misdemeanors.

Minnesotans Score Small Victory in Civil Asset Forfeiture War.  On August 1, citizens in Minnesota will rejoice that the police can no longer steal their property without their being convicted — or even charged with — a crime.  Until then, Minnesota remains an upside-down world, as do many other states, where police can seize cash and property if they think that somehow that cash or property was involved in a crime.  Until August 1, citizens who have had their property seized will still have to prove a negative:  that their property was neither the "instrument" nor the "proceeds" of the charged crime.

Lawmakers, advocates raise alarm at growing gov't power to seize property.  Motel owner Russell Caswell wasn't expecting to find himself at the center of a national controversy when FBI agents came knocking on his door.  They said they wanted his Tewksbury, Mass., business — and the land it was on — because they suspected it was a hotbed for drug-dealing and prostitution.  The agents, who were working with state and local authorities, told a disbelieving Caswell they had the right to take the property, valued at as much as $1.5 million, through a legal process known as civil forfeiture.  Caswell, 70, fought back, and the case turned into one of the nation's most contentious civil forfeiture fights ever — and one that legal experts say sheds light on a little-known practice that, when abused, is tantamount to policing for profit.

Have you ever had a Gun or Knife Stolen by the "Authorities"?  Has an authority figure ever used their power to steal something from you?  I have seen it most commonly with guns and knives, where people often do not know the precise law, and allow the theft as a form of low level extortion.  The trade off is clear: the authority figure ends up with your item, and they do not charge you with a crime.  My first experience with this occurred at about age 14.

Driver Who Had $50,000 Seized By A Nevada Cop Is Getting His Money Back.  After Tan Nguyen was pulled over for driving three miles above the speed limit, he had $50,000 confiscated by a Nevada deputy.  According to Nguyen, that money was casino winnings.  As reported last week at Forbes, Nguyen "was not arrested or charged with a crime — not even a traffic citation."  He filed a lawsuit in federal court, arguing his civil rights were violated by an "unconstitutional search and seizure."  In that lawsuit, Nguyen claimed Deputy Lee Dove, who had pulled him over for speeding, threatened to seize and tow his car unless he "got in his car and drove off and forgot this ever happened."

Give Us Cash or Lose Your Kids and Face Felony Charges.  Imagine getting pulled over while on a family vacation and having small-town cops accuse you and your family of being drug couriers.  Then imagine hearing that you have two options:  Fork over your cash and continue on your vacation or face felony charges for money laundering and child endangerment, in which case you go to jail and your kids get handed over to foster care.  That's what happened to Ron Henderson and Jennifer Boatright while traveling through Tenaha, Texas, a town that regards piracy as just another way to raise revenue.

Pennsylvania Court Strikes Blow Against Asset Forfeiture Regime.  A Commonwealth Court ruling is being hailed as a victory for property rights and a small blow against civil asset forfeiture laws, which allow the state to seize private property that may be connected to a crime.  In a decision filed last month, Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini called the state's civil asset forfeiture law "state-sanctioned theft" and ordered a lower court to re-examine a recent forfeiture case in Centre County.

Taken.  The basic principle behind asset forfeiture is appealing.  It enables authorities to confiscate cash or property obtained through illicit means, and, in many states, funnel the proceeds directly into the fight against crime.  In Tulsa, Oklahoma, cops drive a Cadillac Escalade stencilled with the words "This Used To Be a Drug Dealer's Car, Now It's Ours!"  In Monroe, North Carolina, police recently proposed using forty-four thousand dollars in confiscated drug money to buy a surveillance drone, which might be deployed to catch fleeing suspects, conduct rescue missions, and, perhaps, seize more drug money.

ATF's latest gun grab.  The Obama administration is making it easier for bureaucrats to take away guns without offering the accused any realistic due process. [...] That means government can grab firearms and other property from someone who has never been convicted or even charged with any crime.

Giving Cops Bad Incentives to Harass Victimless Behavior.  The Washington Post has an interesting report about the huge amount of money that Fairfax County spends to go after gambling.  The story cites critics who ask "why law enforcement spends valuable time and money on combating sports gambling.  The answer is obvious — and explicit in the story:  "...police in Virginia are allowed to keep 100 percent of the assets they seize in state gambling cases."  In other words, harassing the gambling business is a profit-making endeavor for police.

Officials Confiscate Cash and Property — for No Reason.  A battle over civil asset forfeiture is raging in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, where a motel is being seized because, according to the local police and the DEA, it "facilitated" some drug related activity.  The owners, Russ and Pat Caswell, are mystified and frightened.  The motel has been in the family for two generations and has rented out its rooms more than 125,000 times since 1994, with about 30 drug-related arrests taking place there over that 18-year period.  If the taking is successful, it will essentially render the Caswells penniless as they were depending upon the property for their retirement.

Report Documents the Nationwide Abuse of Civil Forfeiture.  It's called policing for profit and it's happening all across America.  Police and prosecutors' offices seize private property — often without ever charging the owners with a crime, much less convicting them of one — then keep or sell what they've taken and use the profits to fund their budgets.  And considering law enforcement officials in most states don't report the value of what they collect or how that bounty is spent, the issue raises serious questions about both government transparency and accountability.

The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture.  Civil forfeiture laws represent one of the most serious assaults on private property rights in the nation today.  Under civil forfeiture, police and prosecutors can seize your car or other property, sell it and use the proceeds to fund agency budgets — all without so much as charging you with a crime.  Unlike criminal forfeiture, where property is taken after its owner has been found guilty in a court of law, with civil forfeiture, owners need not be charged with or convicted of a crime to lose homes, cars, cash or other property.  Americans are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but civil forfeiture turns that principle on its head.  With civil forfeiture, your property is guilty until you prove it innocent.

Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture.  Civil forfeiture encourages policing for profit according to an analysis of national data by Williams, Holcomb and Kovandzic.  Specifically, they find that when state laws make forfeiture more difficult and less rewarding, law enforcement instead takes advantage of easier and more generous federal forfeiture laws through equitable sharing.  The researchers tested three elements of state law and found that all three, either independently or in combination, affect equitable sharing proceeds.  As state laws improve for property owners, use of the equitable sharing loophole rises.

When cops become robbers.  Something is desperately wrong with our legal system when the government can take property from innocent people who have never been charged with a crime.  It's happening all over the country thanks to the surreal doctrine of civil forfeiture, through which courts hold inanimate objects guilty of crimes, instead of going after the actual owners who -- as actual people -- would be entitled to the presumption of innocence.

Guilty Property, Innocent Owners.  Technically, civil asset forfeiture proceedings are brought against the property itself, not the owner.  Hence they often have odd case titles, such as U.S. v. Eight Thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty Dollars or U.S. v. One 1987 Jeep Wrangler.  The government need only demonstrate that the seized property is somehow related to a crime, generally either by showing that it was used in the commission of the act (as with a car driven to and from a drug transaction, or a house from which drugs are sold) or that it was purchased with the proceeds.  Because the property itself is on trial, the owner has the status of a third-party claimant.  Once the government has shown probable cause of a property's "guilt," the onus is on the owner to prove his innocence.

Police Tell Woman to Pay Son's Bail in Cash, Then Steal it.  The good news:  The Greers eventually got their money back.  The bad news:  This kind of organized police theft of property from people who are not even charged with a crime is common nationwide.

When the looter is the government.  In the lawsuit titled United States of America v. 434 Main Street, Tewksbury, Massachusetts, the government is suing an inanimate object, the motel [Russ] Caswell's father built in 1955.  The U.S. Department of Justice intends to seize it, sell it for perhaps $1.5 million and give up to 80 percent of that to the Tewksbury Police Department, whose budget is just $5.5 million.  The Caswells have not been charged with, let alone convicted of, a crime.  They are being persecuted by two governments eager to profit from what is antiseptically called the "equitable sharing" of the fruits of civil forfeiture, a process of government enrichment that often is indistinguishable from robbery.

Man Loses $22,000 In New 'Policing For Profit' Case.  It was a routine trip to Nashville for a New Jersey insurance adjuster.  That is, until he got stopped for speeding on Interstate 40 through the small town of Monterey, Tennessee.  Before the traffic stop was over, the officer would take $22,000 cash that the man had been planning to use to buy a car — without charging him with a crime.

Motel owner faces asset forfeiture despite innocence.  The Motel Caswell, a modest motel just outside of Boston, has been owned by proprietor Russell H. Caswell's family for 60 years.  Now he may lose it, if the Justice Department gets its way.  The motel is the target of an asset forfeiture proceeding that entitles the federal government to seize property that has been used in the commission of a crime.  This is true even if the owner is not accused of criminal wrongdoing.  Local law enforcement groups that team up with the federal government may be awarded up to 80 percent of the proceeds from such seizures.

Dallas cops keep $2,000 found by honest teen.  Dallas will keep $2,000 found by a teenager in a parking lot last February.  The money will go into the city's general fund — not back to Plano high school student Ashley Donaldson, who found the cash in an envelope at the Pavillion Shopping Center in North Dallas.

Boiled Frog Alert ...
High Court Rules on Illegal Searches.  The Supreme Court affirmed Wednesday [4/23/2008] that police have the power to conduct searches and seize evidence, even when done during an arrest that turns out to have violated state law.

The Editor says...
The way I see it, this ruling opens the door for the police to make "traffic stops" for no reason at all, hoping to find drugs, firearms or cash in someone's car.  This ruling effectively drains the life out of the Fourth Amendment.

Bandits with Badges:  Society has no problem with law enforcement fighting crime or even confiscating property used in a criminal enterprise but, as with any law, the good intent for which the law was created, has been immensely abused to the point that innocent citizens are losing everything they ever worked for without even being charged or convicted of a crime.  Clearly, states need to pass laws to safeguard the rights of the innocent from zealot law enforcement agencies run amuck from the smell of greed.

The War on Crime:  Today, more than 200 different kinds of forfeiture laws exist in America, and items are often seized on mere suspicion.  Some 80% of people who have their property seized are never formally charged with a crime.  Attempts to recover seized property is a legal nightmare for private citizens.

DEA's crazy train:  "Amtrak is providing federal drug police in Albuquerque with ticketing information about passengers," writes Jeff Jones in the April 11 [2001] Albuquerque Journal, "and Amtrak police get 10 percent of any cash seized from suspected drug couriers at the Downtown station."

Government Property Seizures out of Control:  Across America, the Drug Enforcement Administration is seizing the luggage, cash and cars of hapless travelers.  And the government is keeping the property of people who have committed no crime.

Railway Bandits:  Amtrak manages to lose money on 39 of its 41 routes, but that doesn't stop it from making a killing off some of its customers.  In Albuquerque, New Mexico, Amtrak officials cut a deal with the Drug Enforcement Administration:  In exchange for giving the drug police access to its booking system, Amtrak gets 10 percent of any money the cops take from hapless passengers.

America is a police state.  We actually had a U.S. senator introduce legislation that, if it had become law, would have permitted any local or federal law enforcement officer to seize your cash if he happened to find you carrying more than 10 grand in an airport, bus station, interstate highway or most other public places.  No arrest, no questions, no charges ╔ just take the money.  The legislation failed, but police agencies seize cash from hapless citizens just the same.

Supreme Court Says Police May "Impound" HouseThe Supreme Court ruled 8-1 Tuesday (02/20/2001) that Illinois police acted constitutionally when they kept a man from entering his trailer home while they spent two hours getting a search warrant.

Public Official Takes Civilian's Car for Joyride While He's Incarcerated.  Rashad Lewis, 25, claims that whoever busted his car out of a police impound lot in Queens added insult to injury by not only racking up a $50 ticket for flying through a red light but also left the $50,000 car a lot worse for wear.  "My back window was broken, my driver's-side door was keyed, and my bumper was scratched up," the college student said.  "They were driving my car with the windows down and having a ball joy riding my vehicle."





Taking a bite out of crime:

The War on Little Kids with Lemonade Stands

This country has no shortage of power-crazed bureaucratic control freaks.  The nationwide crackdown on lemonade stands is not about health concerns or standing too close to the street.  It is all about control.  No transaction can be allowed to take place without a stack of permits and, most importantly, sales tax.

Almost all these stories have the same ending:  The news media get involved and the public officials back down.  They don't lose their pencil-pushing jobs, but they do back down when embarrassed by the local newspapers.

25 Reasons To Dislike Liberals.  [#1]  Only liberals would be cruel enough to pick on kids running lemonade stands with a permit, children putting on Christmas plays at school and the Boy Scouts.

Food Freedom Fighters Organize Lemonade Freedom Day.  The Lemonade Freedom Day organization is drawing attention to the increasing number of incidents in which local officials have shut down children's lemonade stands because the kids hadn't obtained the proper permits or were otherwise violating ordinances known only to the bureaucrats.  "Police in Midway, Georgia shut down a lemonade stand run by three girls trying to make money for a trip to a water park in Savannah because the youngsters didn't have the license and permits required for their fledgling enterprise," The New American reported last summer.  "City ordinances require a business license, a peddler's permit, and a food permit for the vending of food or beverages, even on residential property."

Why Lemonade Freedom?  The lemonade stand is one of the great symbols of entrepreneurialism.  When a child opens a lemonade stand, that child is learning how to operate a business, how to provide a product, and how to be a productive member of society all while having fun.  In the recent past, bureaucrats and law enforcers have shut down lemonade stands for not having permits or licenses.  Last year thousands of people across the world participated in Lemonade Freedom Day to show these bureaucrats and law enforcers that they could not shut down kids' lemonade stands.  It was a great success.

Lemonade Stands Find Government Hurts, Rather Than Helps, Business.  Lemonade stands are an iconic American example of children opening businesses.  No government program helps them and these businesses seek no special favors from the state.  That does not mean, however, that the relationship between lemonade stands and government is nonexistent.  As Reason magazine noted in an article one year ago, police have cracked down on unregulated lemonade stands.

I Tried to Open a Lemonade Stand.  In Midway, Ga., a 14-year-old girl and her 10-year-old sister sold lemonade from their front yard.  Two police officers bought some.  But the next day, different officers ordered them to close their stand.  Their father went to city hall to try to find out why.  The clerk laughed and said she didn't know.  Eventually, Police Chief Kelly Morningstar explained, "We were not aware of how the lemonade was made, who made the lemonade and of what the lemonade was made with."

Is this still America?  Police officers in Midway, Ga., closed down three girls' front-yard lemonade stand.  Why?  "We were not aware of how the lemonade was made, who made the lemonade, of what the lemonade was made with, so we acted accordingly by city ordinance."  Well, at least the enterprise-crushing control freaks can't be accused of age discrimination.

Lemonade Wars: The State Battles Entrepreneurialism.  Governments are targeting neighborhood lemonade stands throughout the land of the free.  The reasons behind these "lemonade raids" are similar no matter their location.  Young businessmen and businesswomen, like their mature counterparts, are running afoul of local codes and health ordinances, lacking required permits and licenses, or tripping over bureaucratic red tape.

The Inexplicable War on Lemonade Stands.  I'm beginning to think that there's a nation-wide government conspiracy against either lemonade or children, because these lemonade stand shutdowns seem to be getting more and more common.  If you set up a stand for your kids, just be prepared for a visit from the cops.

Lemonade map
The Government War On Kid-Run Concession Stands.  Map shows cities where authorities have shut down kid-run concession stands.

Map of the Government War on Lemonade Stands.  What's next, a "lemonade czar"?

Appleton police shut down lemonade stand.  It's a summer tradition, especially for two Appleton neighbors.  "The kids have been setting it up for six or seven years now," said Margi Mann.  Two young girls sell lemonade and cookies every year near their house during Appleton's Old Car Show.  But this year that changed.

The War on Lemonade Stands.  In localities around the country this summer, cops have raided and shut down lemonade stands.  The incidents get — and deserve — national attention as telling collisions between classic Americana and the senseless pettifogging that is increasingly the American Way.  There should be an easy rule of thumb for when enforcement of a regulation has gone too far:  When it makes kids cry.

The War on Lemonade.  America is a country founded on entrepreneurship and free enterprise.  That's why one of its most enduring childhood traditions is the lemonade stand.  It teaches children initiative, about the value of money and how to earn it.  Recently, however, children have been learning entirely different lessons — that bureaucrats are in charge and you cross them at your peril.

Government Declares War On Lemonade Stands.  It is the startling fact that all across the country, children are being told that their lemonade stands are against the law.  And not just lemonade stands, but sales of Girl Scout cookies and Japanese green tea have also been declared enemies of the State.  I kid you not.  In community after community, these budding entrepreneurs are being told to pack it up and scoot before they're charged with various violations.  In some instances, in fact, fines have been levied.

Georgia cops bust 10-year-old's lemonade stand.  When three girls in Midway, Georgia set up their lemonade stand, they intended to raise enough money to go to the water park.  But the ever-vigilant local police quickly identified the girls' effort as criminal enterprise and shut them down.

The War on Lemonade Stands! Nanny of the Month, June 2011.  This month's lineup of busybodies includes two regulars:  the FDA, which is slapping new, more graphic, possibly counterproductive, warning labels on cigarette packs and the goldfish grabbers on San Francisco's Animal Control and Welfare Commission.  But top dishonors go to the sour bureaucrat who put the squeeze on a group of kids for running a lemonade stand.

Massachusetts State Police Shutdown Twelve-Year-Old's Green Tea Stand.  Christopher Carr's twelve-year-old stepson had set up a smoothie and green-tea stand near their house when they moved back to the States after the earthquake in Japan.  After they'd set up shop, Christopher took his daughter back inside to get some lunch, leaving his son to manage things at the stand.

Girl's lemonade stand shut down.  Police closed down a lemonade stand in Coralville last week, telling its 4-year-old operator and her dad that she didn't have a permit.

Lemonade stand wins fight with city.  The St. Louis Health Department closed a curbside lemonade stand run by two little girls, ages 10 and 12.  A Health Department inspector told them they didn't have the proper business licenses and were selling unsafe ice cubes.  The girls were using powdered lemonade mix with ice cubes bought from a store.

Sweet Lemonade Kid $lapped.  Three sourpuss Parks Department agents put the squeeze on a 10-year-old girl in Riverside Park yesterday, slapping the tyke with a $50 ticket for hawking lemonade without a permit.  Clementine Lee, who lives just blocks from the Upper West Side park, had dreamed of opening a lemonade stand since last year and took advantage of yesterday's beautiful weather to set up shop.

This material came from akdart.comPortland lemonade stand runs into health inspectors, needs $120 license to operate.  Turns out that kids' lemonade stands — those constants of summertime — are supposed to get a permit in Oregon, particularly at big events that happen to be patrolled regularly by county health inspectors.

Update:
County Apologizes for Closing Girl's Lemonade Stand.  The Food and Drug Administration apparently has only enough food investigators to check out about 2 percent of the questionable seafood coming into West Coast ports from the Far East and India. ... But not every jurisdiction has dropped the ball.  Just ask Julie Murphy.

Girl With 'Illegal' Lemonade Stand Earns $1,838.  The 7-year-old Oregon girl who found herself at the center of a national flap about childhood lemonade stands versus government bureaucrats is going to Disneyland.

If Life Hands You Lemons, Don't Make Lemonade without a Permit.  I know you all grew up watching movies about the Wild West and think everybody can just strap a shootin' iron to his hip and sell unlicensed lemonade willy-nilly, but this is reality.  In a society facing threats like bird flu, obesity, and Glenn Beck, we can't let people just run around doing whatever they want.

Obama couldn't run a lemonade stand.  The Obama administration has mindlessly flooded the country with hundreds and hundreds of billions of federal tax dollars. ... Just as you would not pour gas on a fire in hopes of putting it out, infusing more than a trillion taxpayer dollars into the economy has not and will not work to put the economy on the path to prosperity.  An artificial economy cannot be repaired with more artificiality.  Who doesn't know this?

Kids Lemonade Stand At U.S. Open Fined $500 And Shut Down By Montgomery County.  You can make a fortune selling parking spots outside the US Open, but don't even dream of setting up a lemonade stand.

Obama Era Economic Stagnation Explained by Lemonade and Cookies.  In Bethesda, Maryland parents were fined 500 dollars when their kids had the temerity to run an "un-authorized" lemonade (and other cold drinks) stand.  In fact, the venture was in part a fundraising effort to boot. ... The bureaucratic mindset regarding lemonade in blue-state Maryland stands as a microcosm of the Obama administration.

All charges dropped against lemonade protesters.  The Superior Court of the District of Columbia dropped all charges Monday [10/24/2011] against three activists arrested in August for selling 10-cent cups of lemonade on the lawn of the Capitol building.  Will Duffield, Meg McLain and Kathryn Dill were arrested on Aug. 20 for selling the lemonade as part of National Lemonade Freedom Day — a nationwide protest formed in response to a recent rash of children's lemonade stands being shut down by police.


And it's not just lemonade they're after...

Kansas boy fighting back after outdoor library shut down by ordinance.  A 9-year-old Kansas boy says he is fighting back after city officials forced him to take down the outdoor library he had created on his front lawn as a Mother's Day gift.  Spencer Collins told Fox4KC he had the idea to create a "free little library" after his mother, an elementary school teacher, saw the idea in another state.  The idea is to share books and a love of reading among neighbors by placing books in a clear box, and encouraging others to take a book from it or leave a book in it.

Government shuts down 11-year-old's cupcake business.  The government has pulled the plug on an 11-year-old Illinois baker's oven.  A day after a local newspaper ran a story about the young and ambitious Chloe Stirling, who operated a cupcake business out of her parents' kitchen, the local health department came calling.  "They called and said they were shutting us down," Heather Stirling, Chloe's mother, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Boy, 12, fined for selling food to help vets.  A twelve-year-old boy who raised more than $25,000 for World War II veterans faced the threat of substantial fines from a local health department in the small town of Chewelah, Washington last weekend.

Chewelah boy fined for Honor Flight fundraiser.  A Chewelah student who has raised more than $25,000 dollars for World War II Veterans is facing a hefty fine for his good deeds.  12-year-old Justin Peterson holds fundraisers year round for the Honor Flight Program.  Last Saturday [8/4/2012], he held another fundraiser at the Chewelah City Park.  While selling hamburgers, a health inspector stopped by Peterson's booth and fined him $170 for not having the proper food permit.

Health Department fines Honor Flight fundraiser.  While selling hamburgers for a fundraiser, a health inspector from the Tri-County Health Department stopped by [Justin] Peterson's booth and fined him $170 for not having a Temporary Food permit.  Both Peterson's parents have food handler's permits.

10-year-old's salsa business gets visit from health department.  Diego Bartolome just wanted to start a salsa business to help his mom after she lost her job.  What the El Dorado County fourth-grader didn't expect was a crash course in red tape.

Teen's Worm Sales Squished by Connecticut Town.  For the last three summers, 13-year-old Joey Cadieux has headed outside with his flashlight on rainy nights to collect nightcrawlers from his yard.  Purchased by passing fishermen for $2.50 a dozen, the wriggling worms brought him $7 to $10 in a good month, just enough for bike trips to his favorite neighborhood pizza joint.  But when a town official recently objected to his stenciled black-and-white "nite crawlers" yard sign, Joey's business got the hook.

Feds Target School Bake Sales.  On December 3, the lame-duck House passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, previously approved by the Senate.  President Obama, doubtless preoccupied with such trivia as taxes, unemployment, Korea, and China, has yet to sign it into law.  A mere two hundred and twenty pages long, it has lots of provisions for allocation of funds, demonstration projects, and the like.  Many may be worthwhile.  However, included in the legislation is a provision authorizing the secretary of Agriculture to regulate school fundraising bake sales to ensure that they are infrequent and that the goodies sold are nutritionally acceptable.  Far from innocuous, that is yet another distasteful and unnecessary intrusion of the federal government into our daily lives.

Taking a bite out of crime...
Pennsylvania Pie Fight:  State Cracks Down on Baked Goods.  On the first Friday of Lent, an elderly female parishioner of St. Cecilia Catholic Church began unwrapping pies at the church.  That's when the trouble started.  A state inspector, there for an annual checkup on the church's kitchen, spied the desserts.  After it was determined that the pies were home-baked, the inspector decreed they couldn't be sold.

Armed environmental police shut down ice cream stand.  Armed environmental police officers shut down a popular long-running ice cream stand in Massachusetts over the weekend and stood guard to make sure potential customers were turned away.  The officers claimed that the operator had failed to secure construction permits to make improvements to the stand.  But operator Mark Duffy, who has leased the property from the state for 26 years, says that he has never been required to get permits to make improvements.

Bake sale ban in Massachusetts sparks outcries over 'food police'.  A bake-sale ban in Massachusetts schools, designed to combat youth obesity, has spawned a sort of nationwide food fight.  The crackdown on cookies is being met with a widespread criticism from bloggers, parents, and students who see it as a case of government gone too far.  Turning brownies into contraband, they say, is the latest sign of a burgeoning "nanny state" that doesn't know its proper limits.

Teenager not allowed to sell hot dogs now homeless.  Nathan Duszynski, a 13-year-old whose hot dog cart was shut down by city officials in Holland, Mich., is now homeless, along with his disabled parents.  Nathan had saved up money for a hot dog cart to help his parents pay their bills.  His mother suffers from epilepsy and his father suffers from multiple sclerosis, limiting their ability to work.





Video recordings made by the police:
Dash-cams and uniform-mounted cameras.

Police in Ferguson, Mo., clip on body cameras.  Police officers in Ferguson, Mo., have begun wearing body cameras after weeks of unrest about the shooting death of an unarmed black man by a white officer and sharply differing accounts of the incident, officials said yesterday [8/31/2014].

Weare police officers to wear body cameras on patrol.  As a result of recent lawsuits against the town, police officers will soon be wearing body cameras while out on patrol.  "Yes, of course it's because of recent lawsuits settled," Weare Police Chief John D. Velleca said Thursday [6/26/2014].  "It's no secret there has been a problem in the department and this will give us a chance to identify problems with officers in the field and correct them through discipline or training.  It's an early intervention in regard to that," Velleca said.

Scotland Yard embarks on world's biggest trial of uniform-mounted cameras.  This dramatic footage captured by police officers on the beat arresting criminals and helping victims was today released, as Scotland Yard begins the world's biggest trial of uniform-mounted cameras. [...] But privacy groups today raised concerns over how recordings made on the cameras will be handled, whether people will know they are being filmed — and if they will be able to access their own copy.

After Two Officers Are Indicted For Shooting Citizens, Dallas Police Dept. Decides Body Cameras Might Be A Good Idea.  Mandatory body cameras for police officers may not fix everything (see also: Albuquerque, NM), but it's a step in the right direction.  The problem is that this directive usually follows preventable tragedies or years of systemic abuse (see also: New York City Police Department).  The Dallas, Texas police department is next in line for body cameras, thanks to two of its officers being indicted following questionable shootings.

Cops with cameras: the good and the bad.  One system is currently being tested in Edmonton.  Small video cameras are mounted just below the shoulder.  They are not on all the time, but must be activated and police have to tell the person they are dealing with that they are being videotaped.  Officers who have used the cameras say just knowing that the camera is on often defuses what could become a tense situation.

Video cameras to be added to Oakland police wardrobe.  Guns, radios and coming soon as tools of the trade, clip-on cameras.  Within a few weeks, every Oakland police patrol officer and those who have other street assignments will be wearing a cell phone-sized video camera that officials say should increase officer safety, allow better interaction with the public, reduce misconduct complaints and help gather evidence at crime scenes.  The City Council Public Safety Committee on Tuesday voted to recommend to the full council to spend $540,000 to purchase 350 video cameras, known as portable recording management systems that can be clipped─ onto uniforms.

Some San Diego police officers to wear cameras on uniforms.  Police patrolling San Diego's inner city will be the first in the department equipped with cameras that record their interactions with the public, Chief Shelley Zimmerman said Wednesday [3/19/2014].  Chest-mounted cameras are being tested now in the Central Division in the downtown area, and shoulder-worn cameras will undergo trials soon, Zimmerman told members of the City Council's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee.

Order That Police Wear Cameras Stirs Unexpected Reactions.  In more than a decade in office, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has often championed the use of cutting-edge technology to help solve age-old problems in New York. [...] But when Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, of Federal District Court in Manhattan, ruled on Monday [8/12/2013] that the city's stop-and-frisk program was unconstitutional and ordered that police officers in certain precincts strap tiny cameras to their uniforms to record their dealings with the public, Mr. Bloomberg's response was immediate and emphatic.  "It would be a nightmare," he said.  "We can't have your cameraman follow you around and film things without people questioning whether they deliberately chose an angle, whether they got the whole picture in."

Seattle Sues to Suppress Dash-Cam Disclosure.  The Seattle Police Department has an image problem:  It doesn't want you to see dashboard camera (dash-cam) videos of its officers behaving badly.  The SPD is so adamant about preventing the public from seeing videos of on-duty SPD officers, the City of Seattle sued civil-rights attorney James Egan for requesting disclosure of SPD dash-cam footage.  Egan says he considers the dash-cam footage essential to his clients' defense because each case involved officer misconduct.




Video recordings of the police

The cops have surveillance cameras all over town, pointed (for the most part) at law-abiding citizens.  But if you dare to point your own camera at the police, there's gonna be trouble.

Ferguson residents begin using body cameras.  A California-based group has distributed and trained some Ferguson residents on how to use body cameras to record police.

Arlington 'cop watchers' arrested; police chief weighs in.  Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson spoke out Monday following the arrests of three 'cop watchers' over the weekend.  Cop watchers are known for following police around on their patrols and videotaping their confrontations.  Johnson says there is a fine line between shooting video and interfering with a police investigation, and he says over the weekend, that line was crossed.

Arlington police defend 'cop-watcher' arrests.  Three people associated with a "cop watch" group were arrested on Saturday [9/6/2014] after getting into a heated exchange with Arlington police officers.  A group of about 20 people from the Tarrant County Peaceful Streets Project went to a traffic stop off Cooper Street in Arlington when sharp words were exchanged between the two sides, and one woman was physically restrained by police.

Three Cop Watchers Get Arrested For Videotaping Arlington, Texas Police.  Three people on a "cop watch" were arrested while videotaping a traffic stop by an Arlington police officer late Saturday night [9/6/2014].  The people are part of organizations Texas Cop Block and the Tarrant County Peaceful Streets Project, whose members tape police in a effort to hold them accountable for their actions.

Somewhat related:
Navy veteran fired for posting Homeland Security vehicles on Facebook.  A Facebooking employee of Chesterfield's Drury Plaza Hotel is out of a job after curiosity over dozens of Homeland Security vehicles in the hotel garage got the best of him.  His photos on social media got him fired.  Mark Paffrath saw the collection of vehicles last Thursday [11/13/2014], and it certainly got his attention.  "It was very odd that there was a bunch of Homeland Security cars there and I was shocked and took a picture and a short video and posted them to Facebook with the status update, 'What are these vehicles doing here?  I wonder if it has anything to do with Ferguson?'"

Man Who Leaked DHS Pictures Branded a Terrorist: "You Will Be Incarcerated".  Did you know that taking pictures of Department of Homeland Security vehicles and posting them on the internet could land you on a terrorist watch list, or even in prison?  Navy Veteran Mark Paffrath, who recently took pictures of DHS vehicles parked in full public view at the Drury Plaza Hotel in Missouri has been terminated from his job, threatened with imprisonment and branded a terrorist.  Paffrath was on his way to work when he saw the vehicles and decided to snap some photos and a video.

TV crew: Police shutdown in Ferguson was 'assault on freedom of press'.  Did police in Ferguson, Missouri, deliberately fire tear gas and rubber bullets at a television news crew Wednesday night [8/13/2014]?  Photos and videos from the Al Jazeera America camera crew were widely shared in the wake of Wednesday's incident, which Al Jazeera called an "egregious assault on freedom of the press that was clearly intended to have a chilling effect on our ability to cover this important story."  The images showed a tear gas canister exploding close to the Al Jazeera correspondent Ash-har Quraishi, who tried to shield himself from the smoke.  Was it intentional?  Quraishi's crew members seem to think so.

Federal Judge to Camera-Shy Austin Cops: People Have a Right to Record You. Deal With It.  The case was brought by Antonio Buehler, an Austin, Texas, activist who has had several run-ins with camera-shy cops.  The first incident occurred on January 1, 2012, when Buehler pulled into a 7-11 in Austin to refuel his truck and observed a traffic stop during which police dragged a screaming passenger from a car and knocked her to the ground.  After Buehler took out his phone and began taking pictures of the encounter from a distance, Officer Patrick Obosrki manhandled him and arrested him for "resisting arrest, search, or transportation." [...] In yesterday's [7/24/2014] decision, which allowed the lawsuit to proceed, [U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark] Lane cites "a robust consensus of circuit courts of appeals" — including the 1st, 7th, 9th, 10th, and 11th — that "the First Amendment encompasses a right to record public officials as they perform their official duties."  He also notes two decisions in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which includes Texas, "seems to assume, without explicitly stating, that photographing a police officer performing his official duties falls under the umbrella of protected expression."

Troop leader: Customs and Border agent held Boy Scout at gunpoint.  Jim Fox, the leader of the Mid-Iowa Boy Scout Troop 111, said the incident occurred earlier this month at a checkpoint along the AlaskaľCanada border.  The scouts and their leaders were on a 21-day trek from Iowa to Alaska — a trip that had been three years in the planning.  As their vans were moving through a checkpoint into the United States, one of the scouts snapped a photograph.  Agents stopped the van and ordered all the passengers to get out.  They told the underage photographer that he had committed a federal crime.

Man flips drone fear on its head, uses technology to monitor L.A. cops.  A California man decided to turn the fear that drones will be abused by law enforcement officials on its head by using the technology to monitor police behavior.  "I don't think it's a substitute for a hand-held camera, but it's definitely a complement," Daniel Saulmon of Torrance told the Los Angeles Times.  Mr. Saulmon said he has been filming police behavior with the technology for a month, typically monitoring DUI checkpoints to make sure police aren't abusing their power.  He added that he is careful not to run afoul of any laws while filming.

'Cop watcher' beats rap, runs for City Council.  Andrew Henderson may be a political novice, but name recognition will be the least of his challenges.  Henderson, 30, was charged with two misdemeanors connected to videotaping deputies and an ambulance crew dealing with a man outside his apartment building.  The welder turned cop-watcher gripped this small Twin Cities suburb for 15 months.  Now, Henderson is running for a seat on the City Council.

Can I be arrested for videotaping or photographing police?  Videotaping or photographing police in public places is usually legal, so long as you don't interfere with their activities.  Nonetheless, doing so will often get you arrested.  Police don't like to be watched or documented in any way, so they'll sometimes bend the rules to stop you.  We've heard many stories about people who got arrested for taping police, and the charges are usually dropped.  If you're taping or photographing police, make sure you don't interfere, because "obstruction" is the most likely charge, and you'll need to be able to defend against it.

7 Rules for Recording Police.  Last week the City of Boston agreed to pay Simon Glik $170,000 in damages and legal fees to settle a civil rights lawsuit stemming from his 2007 felony arrest for videotaping police roughing up a suspect.  Prior to the settlement, the First Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that Glik had a "constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public."  The Boston Police Department now explicitly instructs its officers not to arrest citizens openly recording them in public.

Fall River Man Arrested For Videotaping Police Officer.  A Fall River man says he was recording a police officer who was out of control, but instead, he was arrested and his cell phone was seized.  Now the video he recorded is gone.  Police say he erased it, even though they were the ones holding the phone.  George Thompson says last January he was just sitting on his front porch, watching a Fall River police officer working a paid detail.  Thompson says the officer was on his phone and was swearing very loud.  That's when Thompson pulled out his phone.  Thompson says Officer Tom Barboza then rushed him and arrested him, charging him with unlawful wiretapping.

The Editor says...
Notice that there was no wire, and no wire was tapped, yet he was charged with wiretapping.  This is what juries are for.

Can You Video Tape the Police? Should You Video Tape the Police?  These are two very different questions.  Like many situations, particularly in the criminal law arena, just because you have a legal right to do something doesn't mean you should.  When it comes to video taping the police, this concept is particularly relevant — and a woman from Rochester, New York can attest to this fact.  In that specific case, the woman made the choice to exercise her rights to video tape the police performing a traffic stop on the street in front of her house.  As a result, the police arrested her.  Ultimately, the charges were dismissed, but the woman says she would do it again.

A New First Amendment Right: Videotaping the Police.  The most powerful weapon against police misconduct — taping cops with cell-phone cameras — is getting support from the courts

Supreme Court Upholds Legality of Videotaping Police.  This Monday [11/26/2012], the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocking the enforcement of an Illinois eavesdropping law.  The broadly written law makes it a felony to make an audio recording of someone without their permission, punishable by four to 15 years in prison.  In most states, like NY, only one person needs to consent, so the consent of the person who is recording it is enough to make it legal.  Many states, however, including Illinois, have "all-party consent" law, which means all parties to a conversation must agree to being recorded before recording it can be done.  But in all of those states — except for Massachusetts and Illinois — the laws include a provision that the parties being recorded must have a reasonable expectation of privacy for it to be a crime to record them.  Since police do not have an expectation of privacy while they are doing their work on the public street, video or audio recording of a police officers would not be banned.

The Editor says...
Notice that the states with laws most favorable to the police are the ones where Big Government Democrats prevail:  New York, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, etc.

Videotaping Police — What are your Rights?  Following a number of incidents in which individuals were arrested for videotaping police officers, a federal appellate court has ruled that filming government officials while on duty is protected by the First Amendment, as most of the arrestees have claimed, but the ruling is binding only in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, and Puerto Rico.  Police departments across the U.S. have long asserted that citizens don't have the right to videotape officers while they conduct official duties.  The issue has become especially heated in the last few years because a growing number of law-abiding citizens have gotten booked for taping officers at work.  One of the cases made it up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which recently ruled that police can be recorded while they're working.

Courts side with ACLU on videotaping police.  The ACLU announced plans to launch an audio-video taping project, targeting Cook County (greater Chicago area) Illinois police officers performing their duties.  Illinois is a two-party consent state, meaning that all parties to a conversation must consent to audio recording.  Thus, unless the officers consented, audio-video recording would constitute an illegal wiretap.  The ACLU launched a pre-emptive lawsuit against the Cook County prosecuting attorney, asking the court to block enforcement of the wiretap law in such circumstances.  A federal district judge ruled against the ACLU on legal standing grounds prior to trial.  The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed, ordering that the ACLU was entitled to a preliminary injunction and a full trial.  The appellate court held that the statute unconstitutionally restricts free speech.

Cyclist Arrested For Videotaping Cop During Red Light Stop.  Photographing and videotaping anything in public view — including federal buildings and the police — is legal in NYC as long as the documentation does not impede any law enforcement activity.  Nevertheless, plenty of people — including journalists — continue to be arrested and harassed by camera-shy NYPD officers.  Will Paybarah, a 24-year-old Brooklyn resident, says this is exactly what happened to him in late March, when he was stopped for running a red light on his bike and then arrested for trying to videotape the officer with his cellphone.

Will Apple technology prevent citizens from videotaping cops?  With smartphones now having high definition video recording quality, cops are more regularly getting into trouble with breaking the law.  Throughout the country, police enforcement is attempting to pass laws that would make it illegal to record them while they're working.  In conjunction with that, Apple will soon release new technology that would put the power of turning on and off a phone's video recorder into law enforcement's hands, according to a report.

Woman Charged With Wiretapping Because She Dared To Record The Cops.  A Massachusetts woman with the good sense to record her cop encounter on her cell phone is now facing felony wiretapping charges because she did not inform the officers that they were being recorded — something state law requires.  Karen Dziewit was drinking outside an apartment building in Springfield, Massachusetts on Saturday night [5/10/2014].  Residents complained that she was yelling at them and refused to calm down.  They called the police.

Man who recorded another man's arrest charged with obstructing justice.  A South Florida man who used his cell phone to record a store owner getting arrested has been charged with obstructing justice, police said.  Lazaro Estrada, a local disc jockey, was working a promotional gig at a store in Cutler Bay when the store's owner, Andre Trigiano, was arrested on outstanding misdemeanor traffic charges, a local CBS affiliate reported.  Mr. Estrada began recording the arrest after Miami-Dade Officer Michael Valdez removed Mr. Trigiano from the store.

Ex Cop: Everyone Behaves Better When They're on Video.  Civilians shoot and upload police encounters to the Internet everyday using tiny cameras on their cell phones and other mobile devices.  In fact it may be easier than ever to keep the police accountable with the technology we all carry around in our pockets.  But police are looking to keep civilians accountable too by wearing cameras of their own.

Cop tells student filming him: 'You just lost your free speech rights!'  A chilling video of Maryland police silencing an innocent student who was recording the arrests of two other people has civil libertarians outraged.  The arrests were made at night on the streets of Towson, Maryland.  A University of Maryland-Baltimore County student who witnessed the arrests decided to record them using his cell phone.  The student, 21-year-old Sergio Gutierrez, was soon approached by officers who objected — wrongly — to his actions.  Gutierrez repeatedly told the officers that he knew he had the right to film them, but the cops were prepared to use any excuse to shut him down.

Recording Traffic Stop Lands Davie Woman In Jail.  A Davie woman plans to sue the Broward Sheriff's Office after she was forced to spend the night in jail for using her cellphone to record a deputy during a traffic stop.  Last March, 33-year old Brandy Berning was pulled over by Lt. William O'Brien after she reportedly drove in the HOV lane at the wrong time, according to The Sun-Sentinel.  As O'Brien approached her vehicle, Berning hit the record button on her phone.  She recorded about 15 seconds of the conversation before telling O'Brien that he was being recorded.  That's when the deputy told her she had just committed a felony and demanded that she hand over her phone.  Berning refused.

Massachusetts Cop Threatens to Smash Camera into Man's Face.  A Massachusetts cop threatened to smash a camera into a man's face if he dared take one more photograph of her.  Instead, he started video recording her.  The video shows Barnstable police officer Gretchen Allen walking away from Robert Bastille, who runs a local news site called Hyannis News.

Is it Legal to Film Police in London?  Cameras are everywhere:  in our pockets and on our streets.  But what happens when we turn those cameras on members of law enforcement?  In 2009, filmmakers Fred Grace and Gemma Atkinson were returning from a meeting in London.  As they exited a subway ('Tube') station, Fred was stopped by officers from London's Metropolitan Police and searched for drugs — a procedure called 'stop and search' that's become common in the city.  Grace had no drugs in his possession.  Atkinson, Grace's partner, filmed the encounter on her smartphone.  What happened next led Atkinson and Grace to challenge the way British law was being interpreted, and — now — an animated film about their experience.

Police Officer Doesn't Want to Be Filmed, Gets Aggressive.  There isn't much context as to what is going on in this video, but the officer's reaction to being filmed is pretty standard — unwarranted suspicion, aggression, and violation of rights.  [Video clip]

Cop Refuses Kid's Request to See Badge Number, Asks 12 Year old Kid for ID.  So what do you do when you see a police officer breaking those same laws you would get a ticket for?  You get video evidence and ask for his badge number.  At least that is what 12-year-old Jeremy Drew did when he saw a cop parked illegally and called him out on it.  [Video clip]

TSA Confiscates Camera, Deletes Footage of Checkpoint.  Despite the TSA admitting on its own website that there is no law which prevents people from filming TSA checkpoints, a man traveling through San Juan airport in Puerto Rico had his camera confiscated and footage deleted. [...] Tom McCormack explains how he was repeatedly harassed by TSA officers and then police simply for filming at a body scanner checkpoint, before TSA agents violently grabbed his camera from him and disappeared, a concerning development given the fact that TSA workers are routinely caught stealing expensive personal items belonging to travelers.

More about TSA goons.

Peaceful Streets Founder Snatched-up for Filming Austin PD Stop.  Austin activist and Peaceful Streets Project founder Antonio Buehler was kidnapped and caged last night [8/25/2012].

Gross Abuse of Police Power.  A cop arrested a woman for the supposed crime of not getting off her own front porch.  Apparently, the cop didn't like the fact that she was observing — and perhaps even filming on her cell phone camera — a traffic stop.  If there is any justification for what the cop did, it certainly is not apparent from the full story.  What's particularly disturbing is not just that the cop made a seemingly abusive arrest, but that a judge then convicted the woman.

Austin, Texas Man Faces 10 Years in Prison for Recording Cops.  An Iraq War veteran faces ten years in prison after snapping photos of police making an arrest.  Antonio Buehler was pumping gas last New Year's Eve when he caught sight of two Austin, TX cops "manhandling a woman" during a DUI investigation.  Buehler, a resident of Austin, pulled out his cell phone and began taking pictures of the arrest.  This is where the trouble began.

Pa. Student Charged After Taking Traffic Stop Pics.  Philadelphia police violated a college student's First Amendment rights by arresting him as he took photos of a traffic stop outside his house, a journalism advocacy group said Monday [3/26/2012].

Judge rules eavesdropping law unconstitutional.  A Cook County judge today [3/2/2012] ruled the state's controversial eavesdropping law unconstitutional.  The law makes it a felony offense to make audio recordings of police officers without their consent even when they're performing their public duties.  Judge Stanley Sacks, who is assigned to the Criminal Courts Building, found the eavesdropping law unconstitutional because it potentially criminalizes "wholly innocent conduct."

Courts and Dept of Justice Agree: Videotaping Police is OK.  Ken Paulsen, president and CEO of the First Amendment Center, wrote in USA Today that "just as police officers use technology to watch citizens, including patrol car cameras, traffic light cameras and radar to track speeding, the public [also] has a right to monitor the work of officers on the public payroll."

Right to record: It's yours, people.  In abusing its authority, the Weare Police Department has inadvertently done every Granite Stater a favor.  In July of last year, a Weare officer executed a traffic stop on William Alleman of 140 Helen Dearborn Road, Weare. ... Alleman recorded the police stop by calling a voice mail system with his cell phone and letting it run during the encounter.  Seven months after the traffic stop, the Weare PD charged Alleman with wiretapping for recording the stop.  He was never charged with any other violation.

'War on Photography' tramples rights.  A simple Google search reveals countless incidents of overzealous law enforcement officials detaining or arresting photographers, and in many cases confiscating their cameras and memory cards, despite the fact that these individuals were in lawful places at lawful times, partaking in lawful activities.  Often, law enforcement officials cite blanket notions of "national security" as their source of authority.  Other times, they cite broadly worded criminal statues such as "obstruction of justice" or "interfering with a police officer."  My personal favorite is "It's against the 9/11 law."

War on Photography.  We all know what happened that day.  Many of us watched in person or on TV the events that start the War on Terrorism.  So why do I mention this?  Because, since the advent of Homeland Security and the heightened sense of vulnerability to terrorism, many LEOs have quote the 9/11 Law as reasons to ask photographers from making images in public places in completely legal venues.  There is no such 9/11 Law that prevents a photographer from taking images.  There are certain places where photography may be limited for national security (certain areas of military bases, certain areas of nuclear facilities) but trains, bridges and buildings are not on the list.  But photographers have been arrested for taking images of all of these.  Almost all the charges have eventually been dropped and some of the people are bringing suit for false arrest.

The right to take pictures at security checkpoint is debated.  Mind your camera when you're traveling this summer.  Taking an innocent snapshot in a public area may get you in trouble, even if photography is allowed.  It almost landed Ryan Miklus behind bars when he flew from Phoenix to Reno, Nev., with his parents recently.  When Miklus tried to videotape an altercation between his mother and a TSA agent, another officer tried to stop him.  "You are not allowed to film," the officer says on the video.  "You need to go.  You cannot film us."

Another Marylander Arrested for Recording the Police.  The city of Annapolis, Maryland recently received a Homeland Security grant for 20 new surveillance cameras in the downtown area.  The city of Baltimore already has nearly 500.  According to the watchdog site PhotoEnforced, the state of Maryland has at least 375 red light cameras and 80 speed cameras.  Your government is watching you, Marylanders.  But don't think for a second that it's going to tolerate you watching back.

Another Illinois Resident Charged for Recording Police.  The New York Times reports on the Illinois eavesdropping law, which allows for a felony charge and up to 15 years of prison for people who record police officers on the job.  In addition to artist Christopher Drew ... the article finds another person currently being charged under the law.  Tiawanda Moore, 20, goes to trial next month.

The War on Cameras.  As citizens increase their scrutiny of law enforcement officials through technologies such as cell phones, miniature cameras, and devices that wirelessly connect to video-sharing sites such as YouTube and LiveLeak, the cops are increasingly fighting back with force and even jail time — and not just in Illinois.  Police across the country are using decades-old wiretapping statutes that did not anticipate iPhones or Droids, combined with broadly written laws against obstructing or interfering with law enforcement, to arrest people who point microphones or video cameras at them.

It shouldn't be a crime to record the cops.  I believe in the right to privacy.  Yet I can think of someone who deserves very little privacy — a policeman making an arrest.  Unfortunately, in some states it's a crime to make a video of a policeman doing just that.  People recording police have been threatened, detained, or arrested.  Some were jailed overnight.  That's wrong.  Police work for the public, they're paid with tax money, and most importantly, they have tremendous power.  They've got the legal right to pull guns, detain us, lock us up and, in some cases, shoot us.  The potential for abuse is great.  So it's a good thing that modern video cameras are now so commonplace.  Any abuse of police power in a public place is likely to be recorded.  Why should that be a crime in some states?

Las Vegas Man Beaten for Filming a Cop.  [Scroll down]  There's a strange history here, too.  Crooks is also the man who videotaped the 2002 police beating of Inglewood, California teen Donovan Jackson.  The officers in that case were suspended, fired, criminally charged (but not convicted), then later sued for racial discrimination, and were awarded $2.4 million in damages.  One is back on the force.

The "War on Cops" That Isn't.  [Scroll down]  It may well be true that the public is growing increasingly skeptical of law enforcement officers.  The Internet, cell phone cameras, and other technologies are making it easier for citizens to hold bad cops accountable.  Citizen-shot video is increasingly being used to show that officers lied on police reports.  There has also been some controversy during the last few years about police officers who arrest, threaten, and intimidate citizens who record them (see "The War on Cameras," January).  A bevy of watchdog websites has sprung up in recent years to document police abuses.

The Government's War on Cameras!  Police everywhere are cracking down on citizens using cameras to capture breaking news and law enforcement in action.  In 2009, police arrested blogger and freelance photographer Antonio Musumeci on the steps of a New York federal courthouse.  His alleged crime?  Unauthorized photography on federal property.

On photography, cops need to get a clue.  Last week, Buzzfeed reporter Benny Johnson went to work on a list of the seven ugliest federal buildings in Washington, D.C.  But what he found was even uglier than the buildings:  ignorant, heavy-handed law enforcement officers who told him — wrongly — that he couldn't photograph the ugly architecture.  Johnson repeatedly confirmed with the media-relations folks at these agencies that it was OK for him to photograph the buildings — as it is for any member of the public — but word hadn't filtered down to the guys with guns.

Big Brother Is Watching You.  In 1991, George Holliday filmed the LAPD's arrest and beating of Rodney King.  The videotape provoked national controversy.  If a similar incident happened today, it might provoke something else:  the arrest of George Holliday.  Cell phones and cameras with video-recording capability have become ubiquitous.  This has led to an increase in the filming of police officers, which has led to a backlash:  Cops have begun arresting those who film them, on charges such as interfering with an investigation — even when the filmer is not interfering and the officer is not investigating.

Activist Emily Good stunned by fallout from video.  Rochester activist Emily Good says she had no idea she would set off a firestorm when she stood on her lawn videotaping a police traffic stop on May 12.  She never expected to be arrested, handcuffed for nearly an hour, or taken to jail in her pajamas, either.

Charges Against Emily Good Dropped.  Her video has been seen by people across the country, now the Rochester woman who was arrested while shooting that video has her name cleared.  "People recognize me going down the street and they say 'wow, thank you for standing up to this,'" said Emily Good.  "Because this is happening everyday and people just don't pay attention."  It took less than a minute for a judge to dismiss an obstructing governmental administration charge against Good, saying there was no legal basis to move forward.

Reporter Arrested For Filming Public D.C. City Meeting.  Earlier this week, a shocking report from Reason Magazine revealed how one of its online producers had been arrested for filming the arrest of another reporter filming a public meeting of the D.C. Taxicab commission.  That reporter, Jim Epstein, appeared earlier this week on Fox Business's Freedom Watch and told host Judge Andrew Napolitano that, now released, he had still not been given adequate explanation from police as to why he was arrested.

See also The Photographer's Right - A Downloadable Flyer.  An explanation of your rights when stopped or confronted for photography.

Legal Rights of Photographers:  A clear explanation of what is legal to shoot and publish.

Police Chief Confirms Detaining Photographers Within Departmental Policy.  Police Chief Jim McDonnell has confirmed that detaining photographers for taking pictures "with no apparent esthetic value" is within Long Beach Police Department policy.  McDonnell spoke for a follow-up story on a June 30 incident in which Sander Roscoe Wolff, a Long Beach resident and regular contributor to Long Beach Post, was detained by Officer Asif Kahn for taking pictures of a North Long Beach refinery.

First Circuit Upholds Right To Videotape Arresting Officers.  The First Circuit on Friday [8/26/2011] issued an interesting opinion we thought worth mentioning.  The court ruled that the Constitution protects the right to videotape police officers making an arrest.

Court Denies Police Immunity in Video Arrest.  Declaring a First Amendment right to videotape police making an arrest in public, the federal First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston has denied a police claim of immunity and allowed a civil rights suit against three Boston police officers to go forward.  The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Boston on behalf of Simon Glik, a Boston attorney who was arrested on the evening of October 1, 2007 for using his cellphone to record police officers making an arrest on the Boston Common.  Glik's suit claims police violated his First Amendment rights by stopping him from recording and his Fourth Amendment rights by arresting him without probable cause.

You have a right to record the police.  All over America, police have been arresting people for taking video or making sound recordings of them, even though such arrests are pretty clearly illegal.  Usually, the charges are dropped once the case becomes public, and usually that's the end of it.  But sometimes things go farther, and in two recent cases, they've gone far enough to bite back at the police and prosecutors involved.

Cell Phone Video Contradicts Police, Leads to Acquittal.  A Compton, California, jury recently acquitted David Gipson, a 19-year-old charged with illegal gun possession, after cell-phone video cast doubt on the official version of his arrest at a South L.A. party last May.

Irony:
Oakland officer videotapes his killing of suspect.  In a Bay Area first, a fatal shooting by police in East Oakland was captured on video — not by a bystander with a camcorder or a smart phone but by the officer himself, who wore a city-issued camera on his chest.

ACLU sues over man's arrest for videotaping police.  The ACLU of Pennsylvania has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Hill District man who was arrested for recording an incident between his friend and police.  The suit, filed today [8/13/2009], stems from an April 29 incident between a friend of Elijah Matheny, 29, and University of Pittsburgh police officers. ... Matheny took out his cell phone and began recording the incident. ... Matheny was also charged with "possession of an instrument of crime" in regards to his cell phone, Walczak said.

The Editor says...
That's an interesting concept:  A cell phone can become an "instrument of crime" at any moment, whenever the cops decide to make it so.  Until they make that decision, it's just a telephone.  Do they also have the same discretion in regard to a shotgun or a stick of dynamite?  If you use a cell phone as an "instrument of crime," does that make all cell phones within some (arbitrary) radius "instruments of crime" as well?

Man Threatened with Arrest After Taking Photos of Police.  After taking several snapshots and without talking to the police, Parker said he left.  After driving three blocks, he realized he was being followed by six squad cars.  "I thought they were all just trying to pass me, so I pulled over.  They come running out of their cars at me," he said.

Convicted:  Woman 'disobeyed' illegal order.  An appeal is challenging a Christian activist's conviction for failing to obey a police officer's order to shut down her camera while she was filming fellow Christian missionaries at last year's Dearborn Arab Festival because the command apparently wasn't legal.  According to the Thomas More Law Center, whose attorneys have filed the appeal with the Circuit Court for Wayne County, Mich., the city ordinances in Dearborn require that if a police officer wants his orders followed he or she has to be acting "in the lawful performance of his duty."

Growing Number of Prosecutions for Videotaping the Police.  That Anthony Graber broke the law in early March is indisputable.  He raced his Honda motorcycle down Interstate 95 in Maryland at 80 mph, popping a wheelie, roaring past cars and swerving across traffic lanes.  But it wasn't his daredevil stunt that has the 25-year-old staff sergeant for the Maryland Air National Guard facing the possibility of 16 years in prison.  For that, he was issued a speeding ticket.  It was the video that Graber posted on YouTube one week later — taken with his helmet camera — of a plainclothes state trooper cutting him off and drawing a gun during the traffic stop near Baltimore.

Update:
Motorcyclist wins taping case against state police.  A Harford County Circuit Court judge ruled this afternoon [9/28/2010] that a motorcyclist who was arrested for videotaping his traffic stop by a Maryland State Trooper was within his rights to record the confrontation.  Judge Emory A Plitt Jr. tossed all the charges filed against Anthony Graber, leaving only speeding and other traffic violations, and most likely sparing him a trial that had been scheduled for Oct. 12.

Expert:  Photos erased from phone.  The attorney representing businessman James Adkins yesterday said an off-island expert has determined all photographs on Adkins' camera phone were completely erased, either through damage or by a master reset of the device.  Adkins has sued the police department for $3 million in federal court, alleging his civil rights were violated after Guam police arrested him for taking photos of an accident from inside his car on a public road.  They detained him and confiscated his phone.

AG:  Photos not free speech.  The government wants the federal court to dismiss the lawsuit of a local man who has accused police of violating his constitutional rights when they arrested him for taking photos of a traffic accident while on a public road.

In Australia, don't take pictures of the police.
Mobile phone seizure an 'abuse of police powers'.  A man detained and threatened with arrest under the Terrorism Act for filming police on his mobile phone says police abused their powers.  Nick Holmes a Court ... said police forcibly took his BlackBerry phone and threatened him with arrest both under the Australian Anti-Terrorism Act and for allegedly disobeying a police directive.

Man who clashed with cops over legal gun was also armed with audio recorder.  On a mild February afternoon, Fiorino, 25, decided to walk to an AutoZone on Frankford Avenue in Northeast Philly with the .40-caliber Glock he legally owns holstered in plain view on his left hip.  His stroll ended when someone called out from behind:  "Yo, Junior, what are you doing?"  Fiorino wheeled and saw Sgt. Michael Dougherty aiming a handgun at him.

Photography is Not a Crime.  Carlos Miller has an excellent collection of news items about videotaping the police.

NJ Cop Tickets Driver After Passenger Video Records Out Window.  A New Jersey state trooper pulled a driver over after his passenger was video recording out the window.  The cop told the occupants that it was illegal to video record on the Garden State Parkway because it was a "private roadway" or "semi-private roadway."  The driver ended up receiving a ticket for "videotaping on authority property."

New Jersey Cops Arrest Women For Videotaping Traffic Stop.  Ridgefield Park police hate cameras so much that they refuse to place them in their squad cars or anywhere within the police department, including interrogation rooms, jail cells or the general lobby.  So it's not surprising that they are accused of assaulting a pair of female passengers who attempted to video record them conducting a sobriety test.

Ohio Dems Order GOP Blogger To Stop Video Recording Town Hall Meeting.  Maggi Cook, a republican blogger from Ohio was video recording a woman who appears to be Alicia Reece, a democratic state representative.  I say appears because Cook didn't bother identifying the woman at the podium in her Youtube description.  However, the woman who confronted her, ordering her to stop recording identified herself as Bernadette Watson, a former Cincinnati councilwoman who became Reece's campaign manager last year.

Indiana Man Arrested After Photographing Traffic Accident.  All John Fearing wanted was test out his new camera when he decided to photograph a traffic accident a couple of blocks from his Indiana home last July.  It ended up getting him arrested.  Although the above video clearly shows he was not breaking the law, the judge denied his motion to dismiss the case.

Woman Arrested After Taking Photos Of Atlanta Police Beating Man Files Lawsuit.  When Felecia Anderson saw Atlanta police officers drag her neighbor out of his house in handcuffs, then kick him while he was down on the ground, she began taking photos.  The officers threatened to arrest her if she did not stop, so she began walking back into her house.  But one of the officers chased her down, demanding she hand over the camera.

Somewhat related:
How Big is Big Government?  I have family that lives up in Alaska.  They have told me that government rangers keep people out of plenty of public places all over Alaska.  They don't allow people on public lands.  But then, they either take friends and family there, or take payoffs to guide people to the places that they prohibit the public from in the name of the law.  If we are going to have public land, shouldn't the public be allowed on it?  So it doesn't surprise me when either big government, or companies try to stop photographers from snapping pictures of things they deem inappropriate.

What's the Law Say About Photographing Police?  Hearing a helicopter circling his neighborhood at low altitude, Mitchell Crooks noticed the Las Vegas Metro Police dealing with several suspects near his home.  Taking up his new, expensive video camera, Crooks stood in his driveway and filmed what appeared to be a completely unremarkable police action.  Officer Derek Colling, transporting two prisoners in the back of his car, saw Crooks and spotlighted him.  He stopped and approached Crooks, demanding that he stop filming.  When Crooks refused, Colling attacked, knocking his camera to the ground — it kept recording.  He hit, kicked, and taunted and threatened Crooks even as he lay bloody and unresisting, crying out for help.

The Erik Scott Case, Update 10.2:  Absent a specific statute, it is perfectly legal to video and audiotape the police as they go about their public, taxpayer paid business.  As long as the person filming is not obstructing the officers, or endangering them or others, officers may not prevent such filming, nor may they seize cameras, film, tape or similar items.  Case law is quite clear on this matter across the nation.  Officers working in their official capacity in view of the public have no reasonable expectation of privacy.  Indeed, professional, honest officers have absolutely nothing to fear and much to gain from such videotaping which should reveal reasonable, professional officers doing exactly what they are hired to do.

Memphis Police Delete Photographer's Cell Phone Pictures.  If you are on a public street and take pictures or video of Memphis Police with your cell phone, you could end up in the back of a squad car and your pictures could be deleted.  ABC 24 News photographer Casey Monroe said that's what happened to him Sunday morning [1/29/2012].  Police never charged Monroe with a crime, but this could happen to anyone with a cell phone camera.


Don't take pictures of the cops, and don't listen to their radios.
Police on radio scanner apps: That's not a 10-4.  If you're one of the millions of smartphone users who've downloaded scanner apps with names like iScanner, PoliceStream and 5-0 Radio Police Scanner, pay attention:  You might be breaking the law.




The use and abuse of Tasers:

America needs cops, but America does not need self-important trigger-happy goons.

SWAT Team Tasers, Pepper-Sprays Homeschoolers.  A Missouri homeschooling family is suing a sheriff and another officer who forcibly entered their home without a warrant, Tasered the father, pepper-sprayed the mother and put their children in the custody of social service workers.  A court already has ruled that the actions of Sheriff Darren White and Capt. David Glidden of Nodaway County, Missouri, violated the U.S. Constitution, resulting in the dismissal of charges of child endangerment and resisting arrest against the couple, Jason and Laura Hagan, of New Hampton.

Video: Cop tases 62-year-old woman — while she's walking away from him.  Via Becket Adams, it's been too long since we've had a food fight in the comments about tasers and excessive force. [...] The cops were in the neighborhood because they'd heard about drug-dealing going on, but per Adams, that's not what led to the confrontation.  Three people were walking in the street; they moved out of the way to let the cops' squad car pass, but once it did they drifted back into the road.

Tallahassee Police Launching Internal Investigation on Potential Use of Excessive Force.  A Tallahassee Police officer caught on cell phone video tasering a 62 year old woman has now been placed on administrative leave.  Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo announced during an overnight press conference that an internal investigation is now underway reviewing the actions of Officer Terry Mahan.  "We reviewed all of the information we have at this point and we're concerned about what the video depicts and how they may be perceived," Chief DeLeo said.

Traffic stop spirals out of control in Ohio.  'Stun gun' cop on paid leave.  [Video clip]

Former California transit officer cries while testifying about killing man at train station.  Johannes Mehserle testified Friday in federal court in San Francisco that he meant to use his Taser rather than his gun to subdue Oscar Grant on New Year's Day in 2009.

LAPD officer used Taser on handcuffed woman.  A Los Angeles police officer shocked a handcuffed woman with a Taser stun gun while joking with other officers at the scene, according to interviews and law enforcement records, adding to a series of controversial use-of-force incidents at the LAPD.  Officer Jorge Santander then appeared to lie about the December 2010 incident repeatedly in written reports.

Blind stroke victim shot in the back with 50,000-volt taser by police.  Police were accused last night of behaving like 'thugs with weapons' after firing a 50,000-volt Taser into the back of a blind man.  An officer mistook stroke victim Colin Farmer's white stick for a samurai sword and discharged the stun gun — leaving the retired architect writhing in agony on the ground.

McAlester Police Officer Uses a Taser on Woman in Custody.  A McAlester police officer is now facing disciplinary action after using a Taser on a woman in custody.

In Australia:
Police review wider Taser roll out.  ACT Policing are reviewing a further rollout of Tasers, as they welcome the Commonwealth Ombudsman's report about the use of the stun guns.  The stun devices were rolled out to frontline police sergeants in August 2011.  Acting Chief Police Officer David McLean says he and other officials are considering how Tasers are used overseas and around Australia.

The Taser's Edge.  Argue with a cop — indeed, do anything other than submit immediately to his any and every command — and you risk being shot through with 50,000 volts of "non-lethal" (but sometimes not) Attitude Adjuster.  It's happening all around the country, to people who likely never saw it coming or even conceived that such a thing could happen to them.

San Bernardino County man dies after deputies use Taser to subdue him.  A 43-year-old man died after San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies used a Taser gun to subdue him after a traffic stop, authorities said Wednesday [5/11/2011].  A deputy attempted to stop Allen Kephart, a disc jockey and teacher's assistant from Crest Park, after he allegedly ran a stop sign about 3:15 p.m. Tuesday on California 189 in Blue Jay, said Cindy Bachman, a Sheriff's Department spokeswoman.

Astro's arrest leads to Galveston PD internal probe.  Police have begun an internal investigation of a weekend confrontation between police and members of a wedding party that led to the arrest of Astros pitcher Brandon Backe.  Witnesses said Monday [10/6/2008] that police needlessly beat, Tasered and pepper-sprayed wedding guests who were trying to comply with police commands during an incident in which officers arrested 10 people, including Backe, at an outdoor bar at the San Luis Hotel on Seawall Boulevard.

Americans drop dead as police get Taser-happy.  Even though the news is inundated with stories of people dying after being stunned by Tasers, police departments all over the nation are adding the electric-shock weapons to their arsenals, convinced the benefits outweigh the risks.

San Bernardino County man dies after deputies use Taser to subdue him.  A 43-year-old man died after San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies used a Taser gun to subdue him after a traffic stop, authorities said Wednesday [5/11/2011].  A deputy attempted to stop Allen Kephart, a disc jockey and teacher's assistant from Crest Park, after he allegedly ran a stop sign about 3:15 p.m. Tuesday on California 189 in Blue Jay, said Cindy Bachman, a Sheriff's Department spokeswoman.

Tasering a little old lady. Police Hit Grandmother With Taser Gun Five Times.  Beverly Kidwell, 68, was in the waiting room of the police department in suburban Dayton when the incident occurred. … Kidwell said she waited a long time in the lobby and, when she got up to leave, the officer hit her with the Taser gun.

Illustration courtesy nbc4i.com

[That sounds like a one-sided story, but what could the other side possibly be?]

Police Use a Taser on a 75 Year Old Woman.  A Rock Hill [SC] police officer received a verbal warning and was required to attend a Taser retraining course after using a stun gun on an elderly woman.

Taser victim wins settlement over police abuse.  When the film of this ugly incident was put on Youtube an "official" investigation began.  Of course, such investigations are always shams.  They always turn out the same way.  People are [angry] so the cops announce they will investigate to calm everyone down.  Then once people have forgotten that our "finest" were once again acting like mentally-disturbed bullies the police announce that the thug in uniform was "cleared" of all wrongdoing.  [Expletive], the abuse can be blatant and filmed and they still go through the routine cover-up for a bad cop.  And that is what happened in Utah.  The police officer was cleared and the victim of his attack was forced to pay a traffic fine even though he didn't break the law.

To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Pelham Police Zap Wandering Cow With Taser, Owner Furious.  Pelham police say they were justified in using a Taser several times on a cow, despite a complaint from its owner.  Last Saturday [6/4/2011], one of Wendy Bordeleau's two cows got loose from her 30-acre farm.  About a dozen people were trying to coral [sic] 800-pound Houdini across busy Mammoth Road when police showed up with their tasers.

Cops Just Love Those Tasers.  Dayton police "mistook" a mentally handicapped teenager's speech impediment for "disrespect," so they Tasered, pepper-sprayed and beat him and called for backup from "upward of 20 police officers" after the boy rode his bicycle home to ask his mother for help, the boy's mom says.

The Editor says...
Since when is "disrespect" punishable by pepper spray and a taser?  Every one of those cops should be fired today.

ACLU sues Wilmington for info on police stun-gun use, phone tracking.  The ACLU of Delaware on Friday sued the city of Wilmington to gain access to information about how the police department uses stun guns and cellphone-tracking records.  Citing an anti-terrorism exemption in the Freedom of Information Act, the city has denied the local ACLU chapter access to both records.

The Editor says...
Oh, I see.  They only use stun guns against terrorists.

Why Talk When You Can Shock?  Tasers are not a replacement for guns; they're a replacement for talking, said author Naomi Klein at a town-hall meeting last night.  "If it happened in a cell, we would call it torture and if it happens on the street we should not be afraid to call it torture," said Klein, who is the author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.  The discussion on the police use of shock and stun guns was held at the University of Toronto in response to Toronto police Chief Bill Blair's request that 3,000 officers be armed with electroshock guns.

Video:  Police use Taser to Torture an Ohio Woman.

Video:  Driver gets the Taser for producing his license too slowly.

Video:  Are the police too trigger happy with tasers? 

Brief History of the Taser:
Death by Taser: The Killer Alternative to Guns.  In 1974, a NASA scientist named Jack Cover invented the first stun gun, which he named the TASER, or "Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle," after Tom Swift, a fictional young inventor who was the hero of a series of early 20th century adventure novels.  Because it relied on gunpowder, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms classified Tasers as registered firearms.  That changed in the early '90s.  According to Taser's corporate creation story, co-founder Rick Smith became interested in the device after friends of his "were brutally murdered by an angry motorist."  Smith contacted Cover in the hopes of bringing the Taser as a self-defense weapon to a larger market.  In 1993, with money from Smith's brother Tom, they created Air Taser Inc., which would later become Taser International Inc.  When Tasers were re-engineered to work with a nitrogen propellant rather than gunpowder, the weapon was no longer categorized as a firearm.

Other Taser news:
New Taser made to take down angry bears, moose.  Electric stungun manufacturer Taser International has brought out yet another new weapon, one which could perhaps eclipse even its existing technologies in terms of controversy and media brouhaha.  The new Taser X3W (Wildlife) model is intended to take down, comparatively harmlessly, such adversaries as charging bears or moose as opposed to humans.

The Stun Gun:  an all-purpose tool for every occasion.
Cops use stun gun on woman blocking McD's drive-thru.  North Carolina authorities say they used a stun gun on a woman motorist who blocked a McDonald's drive-thru for 20 minutes after employees refused to serve her because she cut in line.


"When the government fears the people, that is liberty.
 When the people fear the government, that is tyranny."

– Thomas Jefferson    



The use of Traffic Signals as Fundraisers:

This is an issue that has very little to do with public safety and a lot to do with capitalizing on other people's bad habits.  When red light cameras were first deployed, there was a steep learning curve and apparently a lot of accidents were caused by people stopping as quickly as possible in order to avoid a ticket.  In such cases, the cars without anti-lock brakes are at a disadvantage.  This would all be a lot easier to swallow were it not for the anecdotes about cities shortening the durations of the yellow light at the intersections where cameras are installed.

Personally, if I appear to have done something wrong, I would prefer to hear about it (immediately) from a bona fide police officer rather than from a robot (weeks later).

Chicago Will Keep $7.7M From Quiet Change In Yellow Light Standard.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration will not refund $7.7 million in red light camera tickets it collected after quietly lowering the yellow light standard, the city's transportation chief said Tuesday [10/28/2014].  The mayor told the Tribune earlier this month that he would consider refunds, but Chicago Department of Transportation chief Rebekah Scheinfeld made it clear that would not be happening — even though the city made a determination in September to restore the longer yellow light standard.

DuVal drove while his license was suspended.  Fred DuVal, the Democratic nominee running for governor, had his license suspended this year after he failed to pay a fine associated with a red-light ticket, his campaign consultant said Sunday.  DuVal's license was suspended in June, consultant Rodd McLeod told The Arizona Republic.  DuVal continued to drive during the suspension, McLeod said, but "had no idea the license had been suspended."

The Editor says...
You would think that "due process of law," required by the 5th Amendment, would necessitate some kind of notification when one's license is suspended — especially after a police action in which a machine is the only witness.  On the other hand, if Mr. DuVal was notified of the suspension by mail, one would have to be very careless to overlook it.

Arlington council takes no action on red light cameras.  The cameras at 19 intersections in Arlington were installed in 2007 and contribute $2 million a year to the city.

Push to get rid of Arlington red light cameras draws support.  An Arlington City Council member is getting a lot of support from citizens in his effort to get rid of red light cameras.  The red light cameras went live in Arlington in 2007, and they were installed after a unanimous vote by city council.  But now, at least one council member and a growing number of residents are calling for the cameras to be taken down.  There are 23 red light cameras at 19 intersections in Arlington.

Is traffic camera technology being misused?  This summer, officials in New York's Nassau County had to dismiss $2.4 million worth of tickets because of inconsistencies in their speed-detector cameras.  Some tickets for speeding through a school zone were issued when schools were closed, leading to about a quarter of the citations being invalidated.  The Long Island county nonetheless plans to move ahead with the system when schools reopen, and drivers who fail to slow down will receive $80 fines in the mail.

New Jersey May Shield Drivers From Other States' Red Light, Speed Cameras.  New Jersey may soon prohibit other states from issuing traffic citations to its residents for alleged violations caught on speed or red-light cameras.  Lawmakers in the Garden State have introduced a bill that would stop New Jersey's Motor Vehicles Commission from providing license-plate numbers or other identifying information to another state or an interstate information network for the purpose of doling out a fine.  "I've been getting loads of complaints from people," state senator Nick Sacco told The Star-Ledger, the state's largest newspaper.  "They drive to Virginia to visit relatives.  They go through Maryland.  They come back home and start receiving tickets in the mail.  And they swear that they're not speeding; that they're keeping up with the traffic."

Chicago mayor tries to contain furor over red-light cameras and unexplained spike in tickets.  Chicago city officials are scrambling to contain a controversy over the city's red light camera system, which may have issued thousands of tickets under questionable circumstances.

13 Ways The American Police State Squanders Your Tax Dollars.  [#12]  $84.9 million collected in one year by the District of Columbia as a result of tickets issued by speeding and traffic light cameras stationed around the city.  Multiply that income hundreds of times over to account for the growing number of localities latching onto these revenue-generating, photo-enforced camera schemes, and you'll understand why community governments and police agencies are lining up in droves to install them, despite reports of wide scale corruption by the companies operating the cameras.  Although nine states have banned the cameras, they're in 24 states already and rising.

Ambushing drivers in speed traps must stop.  When red light cameras were introduced, the private company selling this equipment convinced the decision-makers that red light cameras would improve safety, be self-funding and contribute funds to the police service based on the fines they collected.  As it ' turned out, drivers adjusted their behaviour, and fine revenue failed to yield the promised bonanza, but a poisonous seed was planted.  The rationale of public safety became confused with the goal of generating funds to support policing efforts.

Revenue Drives Red Light Cameras, Not Safety.  "Revenue seems to be driving the red light camera rage," said Eric Skrum, Communications Director for the National Motorists Association.  "If cities were truly concerned about intersection safety, their engineers would be applying sound engineering practices that improve compliance with traffic laws and traffic signals while reducing accidents rather than installing ticket cameras.  Skrum continued, "I find it very revealing that Lockheed Martin, one of the biggest manufacturers of red light cameras in the U.S., has included clauses in their contracts that prohibit city engineers from applying engineering practices that improve compliance and reduce accidents, apparently to maintain the flow of ticket camera revenue. [...]"

NMA Objections To Red Light Cameras.  [#1] Ticket cameras do not improve safety.  Despite the claims of companies that sell ticket cameras and provide related services, there is no independent verification that photo enforcement devices improve highway safety, reduce overall accidents, or improve traffic flow.  Believing the claims of companies that sell photo enforcement equipment or municipalities that use this equipment is like believing any commercial produced by a company that is trying to sell you something.

One traffic-ticket camera kickback scheme hits a red light.  Municipal managers everywhere assume the familiar grave tone to explain that these devices are for the public good.  "If it saves just one life," they say, trying to keep a straight face, "it's worth it."  It sounds so plausible.  Traffic tickets are deeply unpopular, so when a city writes 600,000 of them, as Chicago did last year, the cameras must yield great safety benefits.  Transportation officials produce charts in bright colors, with graphs and accompanying texts to show that streets are safer than ever.  It's mostly fibs, stretchers and other misrepresentations of the facts.

Angry motorists want to put brakes on red light cameras.  Angry motorists are fed up with having to shell out big bucks to pay fines generated by red light cameras and speed cameras.  Take Jim Mehlhaff, an elected municipal official in Pierre, S.D.  He got a speed camera ticket on busy I-29 in Sioux City, Iowa.  He was fined $168.  Complaints from Mehlhaff and others recently prompted South Dakota lawmakers to act.  They passed a bill to put the brakes on red light cameras in the state and to bar red light vendors from going after South Dakotans for citations from other states.  Republican South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed the bill into law last week.

Red light camera at Florida hospital ticketing those seeking emergency help.  Authorities installed red-light cameras near the emergency room entrance at University Hospital in Tamarac to nail traffic violators, but those rushing to the facility for medical attention are getting ensnared.

Stop the cash grab and bag the cameras.  In the South Florida city of Tamarac, officials placed a red-light camera at an intersection by the local hospital's emergency room.  According to the website Florida Watchdog, a man who thought he was having a heart attack was rushing for treatment at that hospital when he was stopped by a traffic light.  He said he waited several minutes at the intersection but the light didn't change.  He told Florida Watchdog he was feeling "desperate," so he ran through the intersection.  The Big Brother eye in the sky, pointed only in his direction, captured it all.  A few weeks later, the man received notice of a $158 fine, the standard under the state's red-light camera law.  He contested the fine and even showed his hospital discharge papers, but was told by the magistrate that a medical emergency didn't constitute a "sufficient excuse."

The Editor says...
It appears that the city set up an unusually long red light at the emergency entrance to the hospital, daring anyone to run the light, and from those who do, the city collects a hefty fine.  Once again, this has nothing whatsoever to do with public safety; it's all about fleecing the public.

Fired red-light camera executive: Company bribed officials in 13 states, including NJ.  A fired executive from one of New Jersey's red-light camera vendors contends in a lawsuit filed in Arizona that the company provided lavish gifts and bribes to government officials in 13 states — including New Jersey — to secure new contracts.  The brief but bombshell reference to New Jersey and other states in a 13-page counterclaim was made by Aaron Rosenberg, former nationwide lead salesman for Redflex Traffic Systems of Phoenix.  He did not mention specific municipalities from any of the states.

Speeding in Philly Changes Traffic Light to Red.  If you drive too fast on one particular street in Philadelphia, the light at the intersection ahead will turn red. [...] The city has put a series of sensors in the pavement to measure how fast a car is going, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Tuesday [11/19/2013].

Florida Police Jail Man For Protesting Red Light Cameras.  Police in Apopka, Florida arrested a man on Saturday morning for distributing a petition that would put the issue of ending red light camera use to a public vote.  Mark E. Schmidter, a 66-year-old commercial roofing contractor, stood on the side of the road waiting for the light to turn red at the corner of East Main Street and South Park Avenue.  Once traffic came to a stop, he would walk in between cars and distribute a double-sided sheet of paper.

Memphis Red Light Camera Has Southaven Family Seeing Red.  Mississippi has issued two tags (and probably many more) with the same numbers.  The one photographed by the red light camera in Memphis, TN was a handicapped tag with the prefix DB and the number 8699.  The person who received the automated citation has a normal usage tag of DB8-699.

[Synopsis provided by the RISKS forum.]

Afraid of refunds, Washington, DC and Salisbury, Maryland conceal evidence that could reveal camera inaccuracy.
DC, Maryland: Speed Camera Firms Move To Hide Evidence.  The firms operating red light cameras and speed cameras in the District of Columbia and Maryland are working to suppress evidence that could be used to prove the innocence of a photo enforcement ticket recipient.  In Washington, the Arizona-based vendor American Traffic Solutions has repositioned cameras and cropped photos so that it is impossible to determine whether another object or vehicle happens to be within the radar unit's field of view.

N.J. red-light cameras ensnaring motorists with quick yellow lights, lawmaker says.  A forensic video analysis of red-light traffic cameras in New Jersey has found what many ticketed motorists have long contended:  The yellow lights are too quick.  Working with an expert in video timing, state Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon (R-Monmouth) said today the yellow light times were shorter than what is required by law, causing drivers to be ticketed illegally.

New York City Gets Legislature's Nod to Install Speed Cameras.  New York State lawmakers voted on Saturday [6/22/2013] to allow New York City to install cameras to catch speeding motorists near schools.  The measure was one of many bills approved in the middle of the night just before the Legislature ended its annual session.

Does the Road to Hell Have Red Light Cameras?  Longtime Weekly Standard contributor Steven Hayward, in an item at the Powerline blog, draws our attention to a report by the Federal Highway Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on "Red Light Camera Operational Systems."  As is typical with government reports, the soporific wording of the title seems designed to deter anyone from finding the fascinating information inside.  The report looked at red light cameras around the country — justified in the name of safety — and found that they are actually hazardous to drivers.

Traffic cameras bring Ohio town to screeching halt.  Those traffic cameras drivers hate and municipal bean counters love have brought a small village in Ohio to a grinding halt.  Elmwood Place (pop. 2,188) has seen four of its six Village Council members resign amid public outrage over a flurry of fines issued by the cameras.  The devices have raised nearly $2 million for the tiny Cincinnati suburb, but angry drivers and shopkeepers complain the ticket blitz from above could turn downtown Elmwood Place into a ghost town.

New red light camera law could raise cost of appeals.  Appealing a red-light camera citation in Florida could be getting a whole lot more expensive.  Drivers who challenge camera citations and lose could pay as much as $408 under a new state law passed last week.

Red-light reversal? Lawmakers push to rein in traffic cameras.  It's the technology that, for years, local officials embraced and drivers loathed.  Red-light cameras have steadily popped up across the country, snagging supposed scofflaws and generating untold numbers of traffic tickets.  But despite the revenue boost, some state and local lawmakers are beginning to fall out of love with these electronic tattle-tales.  In Florida, a push to force the state to ditch its red-light cameras is gaining momentum in the legislature.

Baltimore issues speed camera ticket to motionless car.  An automatic speed camera citation was issued to a car owned by Daniel Doty for going 38 in a 25.  But there was a problem, as his car was standing still.  The Baltimore City speed camera ticket alleged that the four-door Mazda wagon was going 38 miles per hour in a 25-mph zone — and that owner Daniel Doty owed $40 for the infraction.

Residents who paid tickets want full audit of speed cameras.  It's a quandary that affects drivers throughout the city and the surrounding area.  Baltimore officials have acknowledged issuing at least 350 tickets in error, while the cameras' professed error rates suggest that many more have not been identified.  Legal experts say motorists like [Matthias] Manz can ask the courts to reopen their speed camera cases, even if they've already paid.

Maryland State Highway speed camera tickets spike overnight.  More than 40 percent of all speed camera tickets issued to drivers in Maryland highway work zones have been doled out between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., times when crews often aren't on the job.

Counties skirt intent of state speed camera law.  Some state lawmakers who authorized speed cameras in Maryland are calling that limitation a clear violation of the law's intent, while others think it's so egregious that they want each of the million-plus tickets issued by those jurisdictions to be refunded or dismissed.  "You have to prove guilt, and it sounds like the jurisdictions other than Baltimore City aren't doing anything to do it," said State Sen. James Brochin, a Baltimore County Democrat.  "When we wrote the law, the assumption was they were going to do it the proper way.  I guess you can't assume."

Drivers adapt to red-light cameras.  "A pilot program for red-light cameras in New Jersey appears to be changing drivers' behavior, state officials said, noting an overall decline in traffic citations and right-angle crashes.  The Department of Transportation also said, however, that rear-end crashes have risen by 20% and total crashes are up by 0.9% at intersections where cameras have operated for at least a year."

Red light cameras more of a 'Go' sign for state license plate re-do.  The economic future of Florida apparently relies on the redesign of our license plates.  I had no idea what a problem the current license plates have been.  But it turns out that they're wreaking havoc on what was supposed to be a lucrative business of photographing red-light violators at traffic intersections across the state.

The Editor says...
Maybe that explains why Texas has recently switched to plain black-and-white license plates with larger characters.  The previous series of plates had smaller black letters and numbers on an artistic background that looked nice but was completely illegible at night.

Whenever a tax proves to be unpopular, politicians always find a way to say, "It's for the children."
Speed-camera revenues figure in Emanuel's 'children first' budget.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday [12/10/2012] he's counting on up to $30 million in fines from speed cameras installed at roughly 40 schools and parks to help bankroll his "children first" budget.  The fast roll-out of a speed camera plan delayed by legal and technical complications helps to explain how Emanuel was able to keep his hands out of taxpayers' pockets for 2013 and still make a big investment in kids.  During a meeting with the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board, the mayor denied that the $30 million figure contradicts his longstanding claim that speed cameras are about saving lives — not about raising revenue.

Traffic Cameras in Chicago — For Safety or Money?  The experience of red-light enforcement cameras lends credence to the idea that Illinois municipalities are motivated by traffic cameras' revenue rather than safety.  The cameras are manufactured and installed by private companies such as RedSpeed Illinois, based in the Chicago suburb of Lombard, and the international safety camera conglomerate Redflex Group.  In a typical arrangement, the camera company monitors the cameras and mails tickets to those caught in an intersection on red, taking up to half the ticket revenue in the process.

Study slams traffic cameras.  New cameras snap hundreds of photos a day at red lights across the Tampa area.  Motorists are paying millions in fines.  But University of South Florida researchers say the devices do nothing to make the roads safer.

Red-Lighting Photo Traffic Enforcement.  Colorado State Senator Scott Renfroe is introducing a bill to ban photo traffic enforcement, including both speed and red light cameras, statewide.  Sen. Renfroe frames it properly:  "People need to be held accountable for their actions, but government should be about safety not revenue."

The speed-camera lie.  Traditional law-enforcement duties are best performed by men, not machines.  This is the case in Maryland, where speed cameras continue to pronounce the innocent guilty, regardless of mounting evidence that the measuring devices are faulty. ... "Not only are the cameras still not functioning properly, they are now producing violations for invisible vehicles going 76 miles per hour (violation #79) and bicycles going 38 and 57 miles per hour (violation #2790 & #2783)," Town Administrator David Warrington wrote in a July 26 letter to Optotraffic, the operator of the dodgy equipment.

Red-light violators will pay starting Tuesday.  Red-light cameras became operational Oct. 1 at 19 Tampa intersections, but the city agreed to issue only warnings for the first month instead of fines.  Since then, police have sent out nearly 4,000 warnings for drivers caught running red lights by cameras positioned at the intersections.  And because there's a delay between when the images are captured and reviewed, police so far only have analyzed potential violations through Oct. 11.

Judge Overturns Red-Light Camera Ban.  Houston residents have learned their vote may not matter after all.  A federal judge has overturned on a technicality the results of a ballot measure held last November that would have banned the City of Houston's use of red-light traffic enforcement cameras.  Camera opponents vow to continue the fight.

The District's spy network.  Washington's speed and red-light cameras, once ostensibly installed for safety, have a new purpose.  They're watching you. ... While mobile photo-radar vans and intersection cameras are known for their blinding flash when issuing citations, the devices don't just take Polaroid-style snapshots.  They're rolling digital video 24 hours a day.

Red Light Cameras, Highway Robbery.  Thankfully, people are fighting back against this legalized robbery of the citizenry.  Lawsuits have been filed in several cities not only claiming, but proving that some cameras have shorter yellow-light durations than state law requirements in order to catch drivers running red lights and boost ticket revenue.  The implications of those findings are frightening when you realize that a city can increase revenue enormously simply by tweaking the time frame by a split-second, thereby making violators out of lawful citizens and ripping them off with impunity.

Mayor Bloomberg pushes for traffic light cameras 'on every corner'.  Mayor Bloomberg wants to blanket the city with red light cameras — and maybe even publish the names of scofflaws who blow through intersections.  "I think we should have 'em on every corner if we could," the mayor said of the controversial cameras that trigger tickets to drivers caught running red lights.

Run a red light, win $1,000.  The lure of easy money can't be resisted.  It tempts the defenders of red-light cameras to say whatever it takes to keep the money-making machines running. ... Local governments around the country have been eager to hand over law-enforcement responsibilities to private companies that only care about exploiting public fears to make big money.

Red-light-camera flop.  The traffic-camera industry must be getting desperate.  The Los Angeles Police Commission unanimously voted on June 7 to end the use of red-light cameras in America's second-largest city.  Voters in Houston last year amended the city charter to compel a reluctant city council to unplug the devices, which had been generating $10 million in annual revenue.  Faced with the prospect of losing generous revenue streams in other major cities, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) on Thursday released a purportedly scientific study of public opinion on the matter.

Rejecting red-light cameras in L.A..  The traffic cameras cost the city of Los Angeles money while having dubious safety benefits.  A civilian board has voted to eliminate them, and that makes sense.

L.A. traffic cameras may get the red light.  The Los Angeles Police Commission has voted to kill the city's controversial red-light camera program, rejecting claims that the system makes streets safer while costing the city nothing.  Tuesday's vote means that the red-light cameras installed at 32 intersections throughout the city could stop operating within a few weeks unless the City Council takes the unusual step of stripping the Police Commission of its authority over the issue.

Red-light cash grab accelerates.  In 2009, Fairfax struck a midnight bargain with an Australian company, Redflex Traffic Systems, that will issue tickets in return for a cut of the profit.  Although officials insist "saving lives" is their sole motivation, data obtained from VDOT indicate their true interest lies elsewhere.  Cameras will be installed at Fairfax Circle and at the intersection of University Drive and North Street, where there was a combined total of 73 accidents between 2007 and 2009.  None of the incidents were fatal and only 10 were bad enough to have caused an injury.

Do Red Light Cameras Make Green (Money) Or Red (Blood)?  There is a fervor in many state legislatures and in regional referendums to ban "red light cameras".  The reason is that in some cases the devices seem to cause an increase in accidents at intersections.  How's that?  Most of the cars ticketed by the "red light cameras" are those that entered the intersection when the light was yellow and on the verge of turning red, many state legislators from Washington state to Florida have discovered.  When motorists fear a photo ticket in these intersections, they tend to slam on their brakes, increasing the number of rear-end collisions, and possibly deaths.

Red-light cameras switched on in Falls Church.  Commuters passing through Falls Church be warned:  Tuesday [1/18/2011] marks the first day that cameras along Route 7 (Broad Street) will stick red-light runners with a $50 ticket, delivered to mailboxes.  While the effectiveness of red-light cameras in deterring accidents remains up for debate, Robin Gardner, a Falls Church city councilmember for 11 years, said she's confident the city made the right decision to use them again after removing them several years ago.

DHS Conducts 'Drive-by' Surveillance. What's Next?  It was Adolf Hitler who first used science and technology to monitor people, places, and things.  Closed-circuit television, or CCTV, was developed for the Third Reich by Siemens AG to observe V-2 rocket launches and operators at the Peenemünde Research Center in Germany. ... Flash forward 70 years and surveillance systems have, like it or not, become broadly accepted as part of 21st century life — from traffic cameras, to nanny cams, to business cameras.

America's Worst Speed Traps.  If you've ever been pulled over for speeding, you know it feels like you're a gazelle that just got taken down by a lion.  And, while this recession, and the gaping budget holes that resulted, have turned most cities into a jungle for motorists, there are some cities that have far more speed traps than others.  And automated traffic cams have only egged them on.  Now, they can snag just as many motorists for speeding, if not more, with less manpower.

Normalizing the Surveillance Society.  The District of Columbia, like other metropolitan areas, has been using traffic cameras to catch motorists who speed or run red lights.  It has even deployed surveillance cameras in neighborhoods.  Moreover, if security officials have their way, both the number of cameras and the uses to which those cameras are put in the nation's capital will be ramped up.

Freedom 15, Big Brother 0.  It's time for elected officials to park the photo-radar vans and pull down the intersection spy cameras.  Aside from a gullible minority, you're not fooling anyone.  Republicans, Democrats and independents rarely agree on issues of public policy, but on this they speak with one voice.  State legislatures in Arkansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin have listened to the people and adopted statewide laws prohibiting automated enforcement.  It's time for the rest of the states to give Big Brother his walking papers.

The Stop Sign Mystery:  It turns out that the streets in the town of Cranston, Rhode Island, have 692 stop signs that the city government never approved.  The signs are there because the state government of Rhode Island wanted them there.  And that's only the beginning, because there seem to be even more signs on state roads in Cranston.  We are told that the "city's legal staff was researching the legality and enforceability of those signs installed by the state without city approval."

New Traffic Camera Checks Taxes, Insurance.  Cities increasingly rely on traffic cameras as moneymakers, even though the evidence suggests they increase accidents.  But there's so much more traffic cams could do.  Finland is testing a camera system that can scan the license plate to see if taxes and insurance are paid up.

The traffic-camera scam.  Proponents claim that traffic cameras enhance public safety, but two Georgia state Republican lawmakers are calling the safety bluff.  Last year, Rep. Barry Loudermilk, District 14 state House Republican, and Sen. Jack Murphy, District 27 state Senate Republican, introduced a bill to add a few restrictions on the use of traffic cameras.  One provision requires the addition of one extra second to the duration of the yellow warning period at any intersection where red-light cameras are used.  The law took effect three months ago, and the results underscore the revenue-orientation of photo-enforcement programs.

In Praise Of Inefficiency:  A Manifesto.  Huzzahs could be heard across the country this week when Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jerald Bagley ruled that Florida law doesn't allow cities to use red-light cameras.  The case involved the city of Aventura, but it has other Florida cities wondering whether their traffic cameras are legal.  Cash-starved municipalities are pushing the state legislature to change the law so that they can continue to use motorists as rolling ATMs.

Red Light Cameras Unconstitutional.  The Minnesota Supreme Court today [6/19/2007]delivered the highest-level court rebuke to photo enforcement to date with a unanimous decision against the Minneapolis red light camera program.  The high court upheld last September's Court of Appeals decision that found the city's program had violated state law.  The supreme court found that Minneapolis had disregarded a state law imposing uniformity of traffic laws across the state.

Four weeks, 10,000 traffic tickets.  City officials say they were shocked by the number of violations recorded during the first month of traffic-camera enforcement and decided to make it cheaper to protest multiple tickets.  More than 10,000 violations had been recorded by Heath traffic cameras through Tuesday [7/28/2009].  At $100 apiece, that would net the city a little more than $830,000 after paying the vendor, Redflex, its share.

Get the Feeling You're Being Watched?  Once a rarity, traffic cameras are filming away across the country. ... Cities and states say the devices can improve safety.  They also have the added bonus of bringing in revenue in tight times.  But critics point to research showing cameras can actually lead to more rear-end accidents because drivers often slam their brakes when they see signs warning them of cameras in the area.  Others are angry that the cameras are operated by for-profit companies that typically make around $5,000 per camera each month.

Red-light violators are a significant source of funding for Chicago.  [Alderman] Burke threw off any pretense that the cameras' primary purpose is to reduce the number of traffic accidents at dangerous spots where motorists run reds.  Revenue from the $90 fines at camera-guarded intersections "is budgeted in our annual appropriation ordinance," the alderman said.  "That is why all these cameras are being installed. … The reality is that people blow through these intersections and they are going to be caught and they are going to be fined.  It has become a big revenue source, absolutely."

Red Bank Red Light Cameras Make More Money Than Expected.  Since Red Bank [Chattanooga] installed cameras to catch drivers speeding through red lights last year, it expected to make $95,000.  Instead, the city made $450,000 from sending out tickets for $50 from red light cameras on Ashland Terrace and Signal Mountain Boulevard.

Red-light special:  Traffic cameras blossom in Texas.  Red light cameras, and the through-the-mail citations they generate, have caught on in cities and hamlets across the state.  More than a dozen municipalities, including Dallas and Houston, have them in place to catch red light runners.  And more than 60 cities joined an informal "red light camera coalition" that hovered over the Legislature this spring as it considered how to regulate the emerging trend.

Red-light cameras' revenue falls sharply.  Revenue from the District's red-light camera program fell steadily during the same period that many of the automated enforcement devices were broken, according to statistics from the Metropolitan Police Department.  About half of the city's 50 red-light cameras were reported out of service — some for as long as six months — before a new contractor began administering the program in March.

Red-light cameras cause more accidents.  Red-light cameras save lives but result in more crashes that cause property damage, a new study says, as drivers slam on their brakes at camera intersections to avoid tickets, causing chain-reaction crashes from behind.  Researchers at the University of Florida College of Public Health say the findings, based partially on statistics from Toronto's red-light cameras, show the program is flawed.

Woman's Lawsuit Threatens To Remove Red-Light Cameras.  In November 2005, [Kelly] Mendenhall got a ticket from a red-light camera.  It stated she was going 39 mph in a 25 mph zone on Copley Road in Akron. ... [Her husband] Warner Mendenhall is now representing his wife in the case before the Ohio Supreme Court, challenging all red-light cameras in the state of Ohio.  "It is big brother absolutely," Mendenhall said.

Read the "Cop in the Box" Complaint.

Red Light Cameras:  Public Safety Tool or Cash Cow?  The 2007 [Dallas] budget amendment that got the nod Monday morning includes the addition of $8.2 million in projected revenues from the city's soon-to-be-installed red light cameras.  This reliance on red light tickets, however, raises the question about whether the red light cameras are more a public safety tool or more a revenue generating tool….

The State Wants a Share of Red Light Revenue.  If you're caught running a red light, you get a ticket and pay a fine to the city.  But now, the city owes the state, because half of the red light-running revenue won't stay local.  "It's a shame the legislature saw it fit to take half of it away," said Plano [Texas] mayor Pat Evans.  "We're very disappointed."

The Editor asks...
If the red light cameras are only there to make the streets safer, why do the cities care where the money goes?  The state's interest in the revenue proves that the cameras are mainly intended to raise money.  If this is allowed to happen, the state will eventually demand a share of every municipal and county fine.

Bill's aim:  camera tickets.  Knoxville's use of cameras to ticket motorists who run red lights has come under attack in the [Tennessee] Legislature, with some lawmakers contending the system is designed to raise money rather than promote safety.

State May Share Revenue From Red-Light Cameras.  Sen. John Carona's (R-Dallas) legislation on the controversial use of red-light cameras took an unusual twist Feb. 21 at the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security committee meeting.  Carona, who told LSR last month that he wanted to take the profit motive out of the use of automated red-light cameras, has struck a compromise with cities and towns.  He has offered legislation that would allow the state and municipalities to share in the excess revenue generated from the use of photo radar cameras at intersections that catch red-light runners.

Court upholds ruling against traffic cameras.  The city of Minneapolis' use of unmanned traffic cameras to ticket owners of cars that go through red lights is illegal, the Minnesota Court of Appeals agreed Friday [9/22/2006].  The appellate judges upheld an earlier decision by Hennepin County District Judge Mark Wernick that use of the cameras is unconstitutional.  Wernick had found earlier that use of the cameras violated a state law, the Minnesota Highway Traffic Regulation Act, with conflicting burdens of proof of guilt.  People received tickets simply because they were the registered owner of the motor vehicle.

Red-light camera critic gets ticket, not lawsuit.  A critic of the city's red-light camera system today [9/17/2006] intentionally ran a downtown red light to get caught on camera so he could sue the city over the program — only to get ticketed by a Houston police officer instead.  That means he will have to face a criminal misdemeanor with a maximum $200 fine instead of the civil citation and $75 fine that's issued to violators caught on tape.

DC Red-Light Cameras Fail to Reduce Accidents.  The District's red-light cameras have generated more than 500,000 violations and $32 million in fines over the past six years.  City officials credit them with making busy roads safer.  But a Washington Post analysis of crash statistics shows that the number of accidents has gone up at intersections with the cameras.  The increase is the same or worse than at traffic signals without the devices.

AAA pulls its support for traffic cameras:  One of the foremost advocates of traffic safety has withdrawn support for the District's traffic camera enforcement program after city officials conceded revenue was a primary motivation.

AAA names D.C. as top town for traffic tickets.  The country's largest automobile-owner group warned its 46 million members yesterday [11/18/2005] that the District and its web of traffic-enforcement cameras is no place for speeders and red-light runners.

Here is a five part series about red-light cameras in the District of Columbia:

[Part 1]  Inside the District's Red Lights:  Red-light cameras are all over Washington — and coming to a city near you.  The science behind them is bad and the police are using them to make money, not save lives.  It's much worse than you thought.

[Part 2]  The Yellow Menace:  The police could make intersections safer with longer yellow lights.  But the city wouldn't make any money that way.

[Part 3]  The Safety Myth:  Photo-radar cameras are designed to catch speeders and save lives.  Only, there's not much evidence that the speed limit is any safer.

[Part 4]  Getting Rear-Ended by the Law:  Red-light cameras actually cause an increase in rear-end accidents.  The pro-camera forces know this and are trying to keep you from seeing the data.

[Part 5]  Fighting the Good Fight:  Camera advocates claim that most people like red-light cameras, but citizens across the country are taking to the barricades against them.

Same issue, but this is from Hawaii:
Speed Cameras Boost Crashes:  Two reports on vehicle safety suggest highly visible speed cameras could actually contribute to road accidents and seat belts offer far more protection in crashes than air bags.

Pinal County shelves speed-camera program.  Pinal County supervisors Wednesday bid goodbye to photo enforcement.  Their vote to terminate their contract with Redflex, the company that operates the cameras, came at the recommendation of the county's top law-enforcement official, new Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.  "I'm against photo speed enforcement completely," Babeu said, walking the three-member panel through a detailed PowerPoint presentation.  "Here in Pinal, it's failed miserably."

Armey takes on traffic-surveillance cameras:  Lawmaker says cities have shortened yellow lights to raise revenue.

Loophole threatens Virginia red-light program.  A loophole in Virginia's law on red-light cameras that states a summons must be hand-delivered to a motorist threatens to "completely undermine" the program, according to a new study.  "The average citizen is probably not aware of this … but if word were widely disseminated, such knowledge could completely undermine the effectiveness of red-light camera programs," said members of the study, commissioned by the state's Department of Transportation.

Radar camera is just the ticket.  [Washington DC's] newest photo-radar camera, near the entrance of Gallaudet University, has caught more than 10,000 speeding drivers in 15 days and is expected to generate millions in ticket revenue after the one-month warning period ends.

Some drivers fume, see red over cameras.  Red-light and speed-detection cameras have popped up in more than 100 communities across [Canada].

Part two:
Drivers find mixed success in appealing red-light citations.  Amanda Mandell couldn't believe her eyes when she opened her mail — a ticket from a red-light camera in Northwood. … Mrs. Mandell was among nearly 43 percent of the people who have fought and won appeals of Northwood cameras and vans used to catch speeders since the city began issuing tickets this year.

Zero tolerance comes to two Tucson intersections.  "From what I've seen the first three days, I'm not sure we have enough cops to take care of all the infractions," said one Tucson policeman after watching vehicle and pedestrian traffic at one of the targeted intersections.  They plan to issue citations for just about everything as part of a "traffic safety" campaign.

Hasty Speeding Tickets:  Lon Anderson, who does public relations work for AAA Mid-Atlantic, suggests that maybe speeding-ticket cameras should be getting tickets themselves.  They are too fast on the draw.  And they're too often being used to bring in revenue rather than to improve safety.

Smile, You're on Candid (Speed) Camera!  Companies hoping to supply traffic cameras to Arizona are bidding on a variety of services, not all of them exactly reminiscent of "the land of the free" in a general sense.  And, right on cue, a company in Australia is toying with automatic control of cars based on the speed limit.

Automotive "black box" data used in trial.  The Montreal Gazette recently reported that a man was convicted in a recent traffic accident case based on data from an automotive "black box".  "Eric Gauthier, 26, was sentenced yesterday [4/14/2004] to 18 months...." "...police [used] information culled from the data recorder, better known as a black box, from Gauthier's car."

The Editor says...
Like air bags and seat belts, the black box in your new car is something you must purchase, whether you want it or not.  You can't turn it off.  The manufacturer won't tell you how to erase it, defeat it, or even read it.  Additionally, I saw a report on television recently [5/13/2004] in which it was said that there are fewer collisions these days, but more cars are being "totalled" because airbags and on-board computers are very expensive to replace after an accident.  This, they said, is driving up auto insurance rates.

Rigging traffic lights hurts safety.  The use of shorter yellow intervals along with the adoption of automated camera enforcement has become a huge cash cow for municipalities, as well as for the private company that shares the revenue collected.  The District of Columbia, for example, estimated it will collect $16 million via camera enforcement.

Big Brother's Camera:  While such devices could be a useful tool in discerning traffic patterns or dangerous intersections, right now they're little more than Orwellian cash cows.  Camera technology has been used for years in countries like England and France to catch those who speed or run red lights.  A machine-generated ticket arrives in the mail with a de facto presumption of guilt, and in almost all cases it costs more to go to court than pay the fine.

A Different Sort of Zero Tolerance Tale.  Ambulance drivers dealing with emergencies have been known to put on their lights and sirens, followed by occasional speeding and the running of red lights.  Police generally do not pull over the ambulances and fine the drivers who are behaving in this fashion.  But police officers have human discretion, while cameras that automatically record speeding or red-light running offenses do not.

The risks of automated radar guns:  A Belgian motorist received a speeding ticket for traveling in his Mini at three times the speed of sound.  The ticket claimed the man had been caught driving at 3379 kph (2,100 mph) - or about Mach 3 - in a Brussels suburb, according to Belgian newspaper.

Red Light Cameras:  Protectors of Public Safety or Unconstitutional?  Red light cameras violate constitutional privacy and due process rights if you ask the American Civil Liberties Union and U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Tex.).  The cameras are "untrustworthy and unreliable," if you ask California Superior Court Judge Ronald Styn.  Or they're a great source of revenue and a promoter of safe driving if you ask local governments.

Rear-end crashes go up after red-light cameras go in:  When the nation's No. 1 cheerleader for red-light cameras admits there might be one teensy-weensy downside to the program, you just know it's going to be a lulu so large it couldn't be crammed under the carpet without making a bulge the size of a circus tent.

Traffic lights con cost drivers £5m.  Four people have been arrested and dozens investigated after Italian police smashed a doctored traffic light scam thought to have cost motorists more than £5 million in fines.  Detectives acting on a tip-off carried out a six-month operation on dozens of traffic lights on roads across Italy.  The scam involved the timing mechanism which should give a three-second delay between a green light and a red light.  The doctored lights went directly to red, triggering flash cameras which meant a 137 [Euro ?] (£107) fine for duped motorists.

Vigilante Drivers Disable British Speed Cameras.  A network of vigilante British motorists has vowed to continue its campaign of destroying and disabling automatic speed cameras despite calls to stop the vandalism.

Capability creep strikes again.  Private companies in the US are hoping to use red light cameras and speed cameras as the basis for a nationwide surveillance network similar to one that will be active next year in the UK.  Redflex and American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the top two photo enforcement providers in the US, are quietly shopping new motorist tracking options to prospective state and local government clients.

Business booming for Scottsdale speed-camera firm.  The Scottsdale company known for its speed-enforcement cameras has been doing some speeding of its own, at least in terms of business growth.  American Traffic Solutions Inc. has boomed with employees and clients over the past five years, executives told a business audience Thursday.

Drivers use GPS to avoid speed traps, high fines.  For Washington-area motorists who live in fear of the flash from a speed camera and the costly ticket that will surely follow, there is hope.  Joe Scott has an answer to their nervous prayers.  The 39-year-old D.C. resident has invented a GPS application that alerts motorists to speed traps and red-light cameras.  He is marketing his PhantomAlert software as a way to help motorists avoid becoming entangled in the rapidly expanding web of traffic-enforcement cameras.

Police chief denounces 'cowardly' iPhone users monitoring speed traps.  Area drivers looking to outwit police speed traps and traffic cameras are using an iPhone application and other global positioning system devices that pinpoint the location of the cameras.  That has irked D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier, who promised her officers would pick up their game to counteract the devices, which can also help drivers dodge sobriety checkpoints.

The Editor says...
It is very unlikely that the D.C. police chief will be able to "counteract the devices" without violating a number of FCC rules.

Red-light cameras raking in cash.  When the very first red-light camera was planted in the suburbs at 25th Avenue and Harrison Street in Bellwood, it instantly became more than just a traffic control device.  It became a cash machine.  That one device generates $60,000 to $70,000 a month in revenue from traffic fines for the western suburb, Bellwood Comptroller Roy McCampbell once declared as he likened the camera to "Lotto or casino type operations."

Jefferson Parish headed toward legal dispute with stop-light camera company.  Interim Jefferson Parish President Steve Theriot said Monday he finds it curious that Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. threatened a lawsuit just two days after the Parish Council approved his plan to audit the company's stoplight camera contract.

Graph of the Day for April 1, 2010.  Annual revenue from red-light cameras in Chicago:  $59 to $64 million.  Minimum yellow light duration suggested by the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices:  3.0 seconds.  Chicago's yellow light duration:  3.0 seconds.

Red light camera pact would need exemption from Arizona boycott.  On Tuesday [6/22/2010], the City Council is scheduled to consider — and appears likely to approve — an exception to the boycott allowing a 10-month extension of a multimillion-dollar agreement with Scottsdale-based American Traffic Solutions.  The firm operates cameras at 32 city intersections that catch tens of thousands of red light violators each year.

L.A. City Council Makes Exemption for Lucrative Traffic Camera Contract.  Los Angeles council members voted Wednesday [6/23/2010] to make an exemption to its self-imposed boycott of Arizona, opting to extend a contract with an Arizona-based company that operates enforcement cameras at Los Angeles intersections — a program that earned the city $6 million last year.

Controversy Over Red Light Cameras in Texas.  The Houston Police Department says the city's red light cameras have been effective.  Since they went up in 2006, the city says red light running and traffic fatalities have gone down.  Plus they've generated 18 million dollars in revenue for HPD's traffic division and per state law, another 15 million dollars for Texas trauma centers.  "That money is now gone," says Vicki King, HPD's assistant chief.

Drivers can disregard red-light camera tickets in L.A..  City officials debating the future of the photo-enforcement system recommend that citations stop being issued at the end of the month and that the program be phased out.

Red Light Cameras Out, Mobile License Plate Scanners In.  Arlington County, Va., tax collectors are using the mobile scanning of license plate numbers to search for individuals who owe the county money.  Once the tax or parking fine scofflaws are discovered, treasury department personnel are then able to take their license plates away.

Blinding Red Lights.  Jay Beeber, a San Fernando Valley writer and producer, began his uphill struggle against traffic light cameras in Los Angeles mainly out of curiosity.  "I had seen a news report that said these cameras actually increased accidents at these intersections," he says.  "I've never gotten one of these tickets.  I haven't gotten a moving violation in probably 20 years."  Yet Beeber's campaign to inform the Los Angeles City Council and L.A.'s civilian police commission about the case against traffic light cameras has come to a dramatic pass.  In June the commission voted unanimously to defund the city's cameras.  At press time the city council was split between camera defenders who are cozy with American Traffic Solutions, the city's camera supplier, and a growing number of skeptics who have converted to Beeber's position.

Speed-camera explosion.  Criminalizing ordinary, harmless conduct is the key to a high-volume ticketing enterprise.  In Prince George's County, parking and automated speeding tickets are handled, appropriately enough, by the Revenue Authority, which expects a total haul of $55,698,000 by the end of the fiscal year.  This reflects a doubling of income that will come from a boost in the number of speed vans from 55 to 72 and the number of red-light cameras from 25 to 50.

Maryland motorist takes his best shot at speed camera.  Bruce May got nabbed twice in recent weeks by Howard County speed cameras.  That might explain in part why the 50-year-old Ellicott City man is now facing second-degree assault, destruction of property and reckless endangerment charges.  Police on Wednesday [6/25/2012] said Mr. May used a slingshot to fire marbles from his moving minivan at a camera operator stationed alongside U.S. Route 144 near Manor Woods Elementary School.



Stage Two:  Stop Sign Cameras

Drivers' newest nemesis — stop-sign cameras.  On top of red-light cameras and speed cameras, some jurisdictions are starting to install stop-sign cameras in their seemingly never-ending quest to monitor drivers and catch them in the act of some ticket-able offense.  California has already rolled out cameras at stop signs.  Maryland and the nation's capital could be next.

Stop-Sign Cameras Ticket 70,000 in Los Angeles Parks.  Red-light cameras have been turned off in many California cities because data showed the costly tickets didn't make streets safer.  Last year, the presiding judge of Los Angeles Superior Court questioned the constitutionality of camera tickets, which rely solely on photos to prove who was driving.  Los Angeles shut down its red-light camera program in 2011, but the stop-sign camera controversy is just warming up in the Santa Monica Mountains.


Stage Three:  School Bus Cameras

Dallas green-lights school bus cameras to crack down on reckless drivers.  The Dallas City Council passed an ordinance Wednesday [5/23/2012] that clears the way for cameras to be installed on 1,700 Dallas County School buses.  The ordinance, two years in the making, will operate much like the laws that allow for red-light cameras.  Footage of the violation will be recorded and sent to law enforcement, and the vehicle's registered driver will receive a $300 ticket in the mail.

School Bus Stop Arm Cameras Up & Running.  As of Monday [8/27/2012], Dallas County Schools and the City of Dallas are now using a high-tech program to protect students getting on or off school buses.  Video cameras have been installed on the automated stop sign arm.  The cameras are set up to identify license plates.  The recordings are later reviewed by a licensed police officer and offending motorist is issued a $300 ticket by mail.

Dallas approves crackdown on stopped school bus violators.  The Dallas City Council Wednesday [5/23/2012] approved a crack down on drivers who pass stopped school buses.  The council passed unanimously a new plan to save lives — and make some money. [...] In a month-long study with just six camera-equipped buses, DCS found a driver illegally passed a stopped bus with its stop sign extended at least once every trip.

Ticket Cameras on School Buses?  The only difference (we have found) between this proposed bill and current law regarding red light and speed cameras is that if you don't pay school bus tickets you won't be able to renew your license until you do.  According to Alan Jones the director of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction out of 20,000,000,000 kids loading and unloading buses there are 8-10 deaths per year, nationwide!  That's a 1 in 2,000,000,000 chance that a child will be killed.  Your chances of being killed by an insect bite (1 in 30,589,556) are higher than that!

The Editor says...
Are there really 20 billion kids riding school buses?  The last time I checked, the population of the whole country was just over 300,000,000.

New school bus cameras to keep students safe.  Houston Independent School District officials have installed exterior cameras on 400 of the district's approximately 1,000 buses, all of which already were equipped with interior cameras, officials said Tuesday [8/21/2012].  HISD spokeswoman Erica Hilliard said the exterior cameras are mounted on the front, back and side of the buses.  It costs $2,000 to equip each bus with interior cameras, and an additional $400 to add the outside cameras, she said.



Related items:

Physicist Writes Mathematical Study to Avoid Traffic Ticket.  A physicist faced with a fine for running a stop sign has proved his innocence by publishing a mathematical paper, and has even won a prize for his efforts.

The ups and downs of parking meter rates.  The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which developed and is overseeing the program, is tracking demand via sensors embedded in the asphalt that shows when a vehicle is parked at a metered space.  The idea behind SFpark is to use pricing to influence where and when drivers park.  A perfect balance would be struck when there's always one parking space available on each block.

Citizen activist grates on state over traffic signals.  David N. Cox says he was merely exercising his right to petition the government, but a state Department of Transportation official has raised allegations that Cox committed a misdemeanor:  practicing engineering without a license.  Cox and his North Raleigh neighbors are lobbying city and state officials to add traffic signals at two intersections as part of a planned widening of Falls of Neuse Road.  After an engineering consultant hired by the city said that the signals were not needed, Cox and the North Raleigh Coalition of Homeowners' Associations responded with a sophisticated analysis of their own.

Citizens Must Know Their Place.  In North Carolina, some state functionaries and politicians believe citizens must be credentialed by the state in order to be allowed to analyze and criticize certain state government plans.  Absent those credentials, citizen transgressors should be investigated and potentially face criminal penalties.  Would anyone be surprised that those politicians were Democrats?  The issues have to deal with road-widening and traffic signals in the city of Raleigh, the kind of local matter that is mundane unless it involves the streets your children travel.

Big rigs may get speed control.  Federal transportation officials are weighing a proposal to require devices on commercial trucks that would limit their top speeds to 68 mph.  The idea is supported by many large trucking companies and opposed by many smaller, independent carriers.

[Please keep in mind that there are some sections of Interstate highway where the speed limit is 80 mph.]

Opticon user caught.  No green light for driver with traffic signal gadget.

This is a brilliant idea, except that it only works one time.
American cities try using fake speed bumps to slow motorists.  Cathy Campbell did a double-take and tapped the brakes when she spotted what appeared to be a pointy-edged box lying in the road just ahead.  She got fooled.  It was a fake speed bump, a flat piece of blue, white and orange plastic that is designed to look like a 3-D pyramid from afar when applied to the pavement.  The optical illusion is one of the latest innovations being tested around the country to discourage speeding.

New York's Video Vigilante, Scourge of Parking Enforcers.  He calls himself "Jimmy Justice," a self-styled "cop-arazzi," armed only with a video camera as he prowls the streets of New York looking for law enforcement officers who are breaking the law.  His targets are illegally parked city government vehicles — particularly cars of traffic cops blocking bus stops, sitting in "no parking" zones or double-parked.  Cop cars blocking fire hydrants make him particularly incensed.

DC Officials park where and when they please.  Members of Congress granted themselves special parking privileges in 1925.  This allows members of Congress to park at red meters, within 45 feet of an intersection, in bus zones, in residential parking permit areas and in business intersections — infractions that would cost a D.C. resident a total of $165 in tickets.

Somewhat related:
Smart Traffic Lights Could Double Fuel Efficiency.  Creeping along from red light to red light on your way from a major sports event or concert, or stopped by every red light on the way home late at night, on empty roads, you've probably wondered why traffic lights in the U.S. aren't a little more adaptable.  The short answer:  they're not at all smart, and at least here in the U.S. theyre horribly outdated.

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