Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts tagged police

Did you know police can just take your stuff if they suspect it’s involved in a crime? They can!
It’s a shady process called “civil asset forfeiture,” and it would make for a weird episode of Law and Order.
See?

Source.

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Seattle’s elected prosecutor says he’s dropping all tickets issued for the public use of marijuana through the first seven months of this year, because most of them were issued by a single police officer who disagrees with the legal pot law.

In a briefing to the City Council on Monday, City Attorney Pete Holmes said he is moving to dismiss approximately 100 tickets issued by the Seattle Police Department between Jan. 1 and July 31. His office also said it would be seeking a refund for those who have already paid their $27 ticket.

Through the first six months of the year, a single officer wrote about 80 percent of the tickets, addressing some of them to “Petey Holmes” or writing that he considered the pot law “silly.”

The officer, Randy Jokela, is now under official investigation by the department’s Office of Professional Accountability.

In one ticket, the officer wrote that he found two people smoking marijuana and made them flip a coin to decide which person would be cited.

“(Suspect) lost the coin flip so he got the ticket while the other person walked. (Suspect) was allowed to keep his pipe,” the ticket reads.

Others in the city are standing up for the officer.

A gallery of citations can be viewed online.

Komonews.

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Washington, D.C., police began wearing body cameras in a new pilot program that started October 1. They will test five camera modes in all seven police districts, in school security and special operations divisions.

Some will mount to a D.C. police officer’s collar or to the front of the officer’s shirt. Another model will be mounted to an eyeglass frame. But all will be ready to record the movements of 165 police officers as they interact with the public every day.

To help increase public trust between police officers and the city residents they are sworn to protect, District officers will begin wearing on-body cameras next week as they work. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier hopes to expand the pilot program to each of her department’s thousands of patrol officers in the coming years.

Many complaints, she said, include multiple witness accounts that must be collected and reconciled by department personnel. “Now we’ll have a video,” Lanier said. “This gives us that independent, unbiased witness. . . . This will make our officers safer. It will make our department more transparent. It will reduce the amount of time supervisors have to spend investigating allegations.

Under departmental policy described by Lanier on Wednesday, officers will be required to turn on the camera as soon as they receive a call for service or other request for assistance and will leave the camera rolling until they finish the call. Video that is not retained for a criminal or administrative investigation will be deleted after 90 days, Lanier said.

Questions remain about malfunctions as police have the ability to turn the devices on and off when they choose. This renders the devices useless for oversight when they can “malfunction” at will.

In Albuquerque, New Mexico a police officer has a history of malfunctioning cameras. In one instance he killed a 19-year old woman.

Their use has also sparked privacy concerns.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles Police Department, along with police in New York, Chicago and Washington, have launched pilot programs to test cameras for wider deployment.

But equipping police with such devices also raises new and unsettled issues over privacy at a time when many Americans have been critical of the kind of powerful government surveillance measures that technology has made possible.

For many departments, questions remain about when officers should be allowed to turn off such cameras — especially in cases involving domestic violence or rape victims — and the extent to which video could be made public.

Video from dashboard cameras in police cars, a more widely used technology, has long been exploited for entertainment purposes. Internet users have posted dash-cam videos of arrests of naked women to YouTube, and TMZ sometimes obtains police videos of athletes and celebrities during minor or embarrassing traffic stops, turning officers into unwitting paparazzi.

Officers wearing body cameras could extend that public eye into living rooms or bedrooms, should a call require them to enter a private home.

A recent federal survey of 63 law enforcement agencies using body cameras said nearly a third of the agencies had no written policy on the devices. (It is not known how many agencies overall currently use body cameras.)

For that reason, experts and privacy advocates have encouraged departments to adopt policies that include allowing victims and reluctant witnesses to be filmed only with their consent.

The newly released federal report also suggests that departments should clearly outline policies for how long they will keep video recordings before deletion; 60- or 90-day holding periods are common, unless the video is used as criminal evidence or has been flagged in a complaint.

Should police wear body cameras? Absolutely. Should they have the ability to turn them off? Not a chance. If you want the program to be effective, the control of footage should never be in the hands of the police. Anyone involved in being recorded should also have the ability to request a copy of the footage for a low and reasonable fee.

Other police departments that have begun wearing body cameras this month include New York City.

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It doesn’t actually fire but like a radar gun, but this new device can let law enforcement know who is using a device to text or talk while driving.

ComSonics, a company in Virginia, developed the technology for the Sniffer Sleuth II.

For now, the texting gun that weighs about 1.6 pounds awaits legislative approval. The gun is ready for the assembly line, but no release date has been attached to the innovation.

Makers say the gun is sensitive enough to determine if it’s the driver or passenger who is texting.

ComSonics says each Sniffer Sleuth would cost about $2,000.

More.

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Textbooks, free lunches for everyone, teachers and safe buildings up to code cost too much, but expensive military equipment that never needed to be built to begin with are acceptable and freely available in the United States.

Steven Zipperman, Chief of the Los Angeles School Police Department, told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO the department will give back three grenade launchers while keeping a a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored vehicle and dozens of rifles it received through the program.

While much of the military hardware at the disposal of LAUSD police officers – including the 20-foot-long, 14-ton armored transport vehicles, much like the ones used to move Marines in Iraq combat zones – has never been used, Zipperman defended the decision to hang on to the MRAP.

“It is a vehicle that is available for a rescue in the event of a catastrophic incident that may occur within our region,” said Zipperman. “I believe it’s better to have some type of rescue vehicle than none at all.”

Does anyone else get the feeling that schools now are just training grounds for compliance and prison?

LA Unified is among at least 22 school systems across eight states that have received surplus military equipment, The Los Angeles Times reported.

There is never a reason for a school to ever have a need for military weapons and equipment.

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