Tag Archives | Law Enforcement

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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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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