Tag Archives | Law Enforcement

NYPD’s New Facial Recognition Unit Using Instagram And Facebook Photos To Identify Suspects

Social networking sites are a great way to meet and connect with new people, such as cops. DNAinfo New York writes:

Police are searching for suspects’ photos on Instagram and Facebook, then running them through the NYPD’s new Facial Recognition Unit to put a face to a name, DNAinfo New York has learned.

Detectives are now breaking cases across the city thanks to the futuristic technology that marries mug shots of known criminals with pictures gleaned from social media, surveillance cameras and anywhere else cops can find images.

[An] official explained how the new technology worked after a recent street robbery where a woman reported her jewelry stolen by her gal pal’s boyfriend. She did not know his name, only that he was likely in photos on his girlfriend’s Facebook page. “We did not have his name, but we found a photo and the Facial Recognition Unit got a hit.”

The new investigative entity was formally launched late last year, with eight cops working in teams of four manning the operations.

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Supreme Court Considers Whether Government Has Right To Log DNA Samples Of Anyone Arrested

Does your arrest allow the government to access your genetic information? Conservatives, and the Obama administration, say yes. Via CNN:

The U.S. Supreme Court offered a surprising amount of concern about states laws allowing police to collect a DNA sample of anyone arrested — but not yet convicted — of serious crimes. A ruling will be issued within a few months, and could have wide-reaching implications in the rapidly evolving technology surrounding criminal procedure.

Privacy rights groups [say] the state’s “trust us” promise not to abuse the technology does not ease their concerns that someone’s biological makeup could soon be applied for a variety of non-criminal purposes.

“There is something inherently dangerous about DNA collection that is not the same as fingerprinting,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “How far do we let the state go each time it has some form of custody over you in schools, in workplaces, wherever else the state has control over your person?”

And civil liberties groups worry inadequate DNA testing by overwhelmed lab technicians can lead to errors, such as the one that sent Dwayne Jackson to prison for armed robbery.

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Have US Police Forces Become Too Militarised?

International news agency Al-Jazeera (which also happened to recently purchase Current TV here in the states, y'all) asks whether the United States' police forces have become too militarized. For those of us who get our news from independent, mostly online sources, this seems obvious. Anyone who was involved with or follows the Occupy movement has seen how local and state law enforcement have refitted themselves as paramilitary organizations. Each week, seemingly every day, there are dozens of stories of police harassment, abuse, brutality, and infringement on civil rights; usually against people of color. It may not be that this is a trend on the rise, but as others have suggested, that there are simply more cameras and recording devices out there facilitating our constitutional right to keep the cops accountable. But there can be no doubt that the addition of SWAT tactics, zero tolerance, racial profiling, stop-and-frisk, warantless surveillance and wiretapping, armored tank-like vehicles, severe use of 'nonlethal' weapons, and the trigger-happy cowboys themselves have increased faster than you can say 'counter-terrorism' or 'fusion center.' Add in some DHS-supplied drones and you've got a local militia with a fraternal code of silence and protection from the very laws they were once sworn to uphold.
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Notorious For-Profit Prison Company Doing ‘Drug Sweeps’ Of Arizona Public School Students

Corrections Corporation of America, recently sued over its collaborating with violent gangs, is now partnering with police to conduct “lock down sweeps” in which high schoolers are locked in their classrooms while canine units search their possessions for illegal contraband. Via PR Watch:

An unsettling trend appears to be underway in Arizona: the use of private prison employees in law enforcement operations.

The state has graced national headlines in recent years as the result of its cozy relationship with the for-profit prison industry. Such controversies have included the role of private prison corporations in SB 1070 and similar anti-immigrant legislation disseminated in other states; a 2010 private prison escape that resulted in two murders and a nationwide manhunt; and a failed bid to privatize nearly the entire Arizona prison system.

And now, recent events in the central Arizona town of Casa Grande show the hand of private corrections corporations reaching into the classroom, assisting local law enforcement agencies in drug raids at public schools.

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Handcuffs Of The Future Administer Shocks And Drugs To The Detained

CNET reports on handcuffs that practically do the police’s work for them:

A patent for next-generation handcuffs offers a future in which the detained can be zapped directly from their restraints, and even injected with a medication, sedative, irritant, paralytic, or other fine substance. The patent is called “Apparatus and System For Augmented Detainee Restraint” and is the brainchild of Scottsdale Inventions.

The augmentations it offers are truly quite something. The handcuffs are “configured to administer electrical shocks when certain predetermined conditions occur.” These shocks might be “activated by internal control systems or by external controllers that transmit activation signals to the restraining device.”

These handcuffs might also be used to inject the detained with a substance in the form of “a liquid, a gas, a dye, an irritant, a medication, a sedative, a chemical restraint, a paralytic, a medication prescribed to the detainee, and combinations thereof.” Yes, you really did read the word “paralytic.”

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California Law Enforcement Battles Controvery Over Move To Use Drones

Oakland, a hotbed of political activism, may serve as the model city for the deployment of police spy drones, Ars Technica reports:

Since Congress passed legislation in February ordering the FAA to fast-track the approval of unmanned aerial vehicles (i.e. drones) for use by law enforcement agencies, police and sheriff departments across the country have been scrambling to purchase the smaller, unarmed cousins of the Predator and Reaper drones which carry out daily sorties over Afghanistan.

California’s Alameda County (which encompasses Berkeley and Oakland) has become one of the central battlegrounds over the introduction of drones to domestic police work. Earlier this year, County Sheriff Gregory Ahern raised the hackles of local civil libertarians by declaring his intention to purchase a drone to assist with “emergency response.”

Were Alameda County to purchase a drone, it would set a precedent in California, which has long been an innovator in law enforcement tactics: from SWAT teams (pioneered in Delano and Los Angeles) to anti-gang tactics such as civil injunctions.

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Researchers Developing Robotic Police Officers

With municipalities desperate to reduce budgets, use of remotely-controlled robots for some law enforcement duties is an inevitability. CNET reports:

Researchers at Florida International University’s Discovery Lab are working with a member of the U.S. Navy Reserves to build telepresence robots that could patrol while being [remotely] controlled by disabled police officers.

Students and professors at the Discovery Lab have been working with the two-wheeled, military-grade IHMC robots built under a $2 million DARPA initiative. The patrol bot prototype, which will have two-way video and audio, will be based on them.

They would work as patrol officers, operating wheeled telepresence robots and doing everything from responding to 911 calls and writing parking tickets to ensuring the security of nuclear facilities. Remote-controlled robots are already used in military, medical, and business applications, and the lab believes law enforcement is a natural next step.

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Local Cops Now Paid With Federal Money To Troll IRC

Picture: Liam Cooke, Flickr (CC)

In an era where the Rand Corporation claims links between IP theft and terrorist activity (ignoring a 2011 major international study that found “‘no evidence’ of systematic links between piracy and serious organized crime”), your tax dollars are being used to put cops in chat rooms to track down the degenerate digerati.

Via  at Ars Technica:

In a speech before an assembled crowd of law enforcement officials in Maryland this week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the winners of a new federal grant that will send hundreds of thousands of dollars to 13 agencies in an effort to step up enforcement of copyright and trademark laws.

The Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Grant Award, which became available in January 2012, was given to a wide variety of local law enforcement groups, including the City of Austin, the City of Orlando, the County of Sacramento, the Virginia State Police, and most oddly, the City of Central Point, Oregon (population: 13,000).

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