Tag Archives | Law Enforcement

Gazing Into Police Culture Through Cop T-Shirts

Cop t-shirts: For when merely acting like an abusive asshole doesn’t send a strong enough message. Via the Huffington Post, Radley Balko runs down a litany of disturbing examples of custom t-shirts enjoyed by cops which hint at a problematic dynamic in law enforcement culture:

Earlier this week, an anonymous public defender sent Gothamist a photo of an NYPD warrant squad officer wearing a t-shirt with a pretty disturbing quote from Ernest Hemingway [below]. There have been a number of other incidents over the years in which cops have donned t-shirts that reflect a mentality somewhat less lofty than “protect and serve.”

The Village Voice reports that the quote was also printed on t-shirts worn by NYPD’s infamous Street Crimes Unit, which was disbanded after shooting unarmed immigrant Amadou Diallo 41 times in 1999 as Diallo reached for his wallet.

cop t-shirts

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Why You Should Never Speak To The FBI Without A Lawyer Present

From the ACLU of Massachusetts comes words of wisdom from civil rights lawyer Harvey Silverglate, who explains quickly and clearly why activists (or anyone else) should never have a conversation with an FBI agent without a lawyer and tape recorder present. The reason? Because the FBI is capable of blackmailing almost anyone into becoming an informant:
Learn how the FBI can manipulate what you say and use it against you, and how to prevent them from doing so! With civil liberties and civil rights attorney Harvey Silverglate.
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The National Disgrace Of Marijuana Possession Arrests

marijuana arrestsThe New Inquiry, sociologist Harry Levine explains the terrible mechanics propelling apartheid-style law enforcement in America:

Police arrest mostly young and low-income men for marijuana possession, disproportionately blacks and Latinos. In the last 15 years, police and sheriff ’s departments in every major U.S. city and county have made over 10 million of these possession arrests. Most people arrested were not smoking. They were carrying tiny amounts.

Police make so many because they are relatively safe and easy arrests. All police have arrest quotas and often they can earn overtime pay by making a marijuana arrest toward the end of a shift. The arrests show productivity. Making many low-level arrests of all kinds is very good for training rookie police who gain experience doing many stops and searches of teenagers.

There is also a push nationally, to states, counties, and city police departments, to get as many new people as possible into the criminal databases.

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Man Arrested for Shooting Robot

Flickr users: ewen and donabel (CC)

Ohio man Michael Blevins, 62, has been arrested and charged for harming a robot. Is this the next logical news item we should expect to see in a world with cybernetic hate crime?

Via Noel Brinkerhoff of AllGov:

[Blevins] was holed up in his home in Waverly, intoxicated and armed with multiple firearms, when police responded to reports of shots being fired inside the residence.

Wanting to avoid a confrontation, local police sent two surveillance robots inside the home to find Blevins. Upon seeing the larger of the two robots, Blevins opened fire and damaged the roving technology.

Police later stormed the house and used an electronic stun gun to subdue and then apprehend Blevins without any human getting hurt.

He now faces two felony counts of unlawful possession of a dangerous ordnance and vandalism of government property, among other charges.

Go to AllGov for more, or the original coverage from the Chillicothe Gazette and the Singularity Hub.… Read the rest

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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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