Police State


Secret police? Virginia considers bill to withhold all officers’ names.

fuck

26th Feb 2016

Although police supporters fear the use of publicly available records against them, “that’s largely based on a total lack of data,” Worrall said. “There’s no data on retaliatory actions against police officers. And even if the problem exists, I’m not convinced that hiding their names is the solution.”

Worrall and others noted that keeping officers’ names secret seems to conflict with the idea of community policing and building trust with citizens. “I don’t know how you have community policing,” Gastañaga said, “when nobody knows your name.”

Should the Virginia bill become law, the practical implications still aren’t clear. Some worry it would allow an officer who pulls over a driver, or stops someone in the street, to refuse to provide his or her name. Officers’ names would still appear on traffic tickets or court documents.

Police would still have the discretion to release any officer’s name if they wanted, and police officials said they would not withhold names without specific reasons. Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. said he and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors remains “committed to increasing our transparency.” He said that officers would never be removing their names from their uniforms, as some have suggested the bill would allow, and that he would withhold a name only to protect a particular officer’s safety or the sanctity of an ongoing investigation. Fairfax police waited 16 months to release the name of the officer who shot an unarmed Springfield man, John Geer, in 2013. The release came only after a judge ordered it.

Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, said police in the commonwealth already have the option to withhold names, and Cosgrove’s bill merely codifies that discretion. She and Carroll, the police union president, both noted that 1,500 Virginia state employees had fraudulent tax returns filed last year, which officials think originated with an online database of employee names and salaries.

“We do not expect this to be abused,” said Schrad, who sent an email to state police chiefs saying: “We caution all of our agencies to use discretion in exercising this exemption. In order to build a trust relationship with communities, agencies should make sure that the communities know who their officers are. This exemption should only be exercised when trying to protect the identity of an undercover officer or when protecting the integrity” of an internal affiars investigation.

Schrad and Carroll helped launch the bill after the Virginian-Pilot newspaper and the state Department of Criminal Justice Services reached an agreement last summer for the state to release the names, agencies and dates of employment of every law enforcement officer in Virginia. Schrad opposed the release because she said the database was old and inaccurate, saying that providing the mass data was her chief reason for pursuing the bill.

Virginian-Pilot reporter Gary Harki said he wanted to check tips he had received that officers who were fired from one department were simply rejoining a police force elsewhere, similar to the reporting done by the Boston Globe on reassignment of pedophilic Catholic priests in Massachusetts. The newspaper negotiated an agreement with the state to obtain the names of only current officers, not to publish the entire database or share it with anyone, and to indemnify the state from any legal claims.

After the agreement was signed, Schrad and Carroll objected, and the state changed its mind. No deal. But the state failed to cite a legal exemption for its refusal in the required time under the state Freedom of Information Act, and a Norfolk judge ruled that the data had to be given to Harki. The judge also ruled that police names are personnel records that can be exempt under FOIA, but he said the state had already agreed to release them. The ruling at the circuit-court level does not have the weight of legal precedent and so Schrad and Carroll sought to put it into law.

“The public has a right to know who their police officers are,” Harki said. “To me, it’s just a fundamental principle of democracy [to know] who our public officials are.” He said that the database he got was “just a piece of a larger puzzle to a problem that may or may not exist” and that he hasn’t published anything about it since the Virginian-Pilot won the court ruling in November.

When Harki worked as a reporter in West Virginia, a similar investigation of troubled officers moving between departments resulted in legislation adding oversight to the movement of officers.

Megan Rhyne of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government noted that many public servants take actions that could anger citizens — prosecutors, social service workers, judges — but their names remain public. She also said that withholding names would result in a lack of accountability for a variety of unsavory acts, such as profligate spending or hiring friends and family, actions that often are caught only when names are linked to illegal deeds.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing Thursday afternoon before a subcommittee of the House General Laws Committee, chaired by Del. James M. LeMunyon (R-Fairfax). He declined to offer his views on the bill, but he said if it passed, it would be heard again next Thursday before the entire committee, then possibly sent to the full House.

 

 

source:https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/true-crime/wp/2016/02/24/secret-police-virginia-considers-bill-to-withhold-all-officers-names/

TSA Hit With Lawsuit After Nixing Body Scanner Opt Out

airport scanners

27th Dec 2015

The TSA has been hit with a lawsuit just days after it quietly introduced new rules that banned the ability of travelers to opt out of the agency’s controversial naked body scanners.

“In a document published earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security outlined an update to the Advanced Imagery Technology protocols used by the TSA at US airports, adding a clause which allows officers to insist travelers go through the controversial machines,” reported SlashGear.

The federal agency now insists it has the right to “direct mandatory AIT screening for some passengers,” even if they refuse.

Activist Jonathan Corbett, who famously exposed TSA body scanners to be completely useless in detecting items concealed in hidden pockets, wasted no time in filing a lawsuit in an attempt to restore a traveler’s right to opt out of the scanner.

The TSA shall receive on Friday a petition that asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit to consider: 1) whether the body scanner program is constitutional when the option to opt-out is removed, and 2) whether the TSA must engage in “notice & comment rulemaking” before making such a change.

You all may remember that in 2013, the TSA “invited” (after being forced to by the Court of Appeals as a result of EPIC’s lawsuit) the public to submit comments regarding the nude body scanner program. Over 5,500 of us replied, and well over 95% of the comments were in opposition. The TSA still hasn’t responded to those comments, but yet feels that it can remove the opt-out procedure without again asking the public or considering our feelings regarding the scanners even with the opt-out option.

Given the timing, Corbett even personally gift-wrapped the lawsuit for the TSA.

gift wrapped

Earlier this year, Corbett also lifted the lid on a hitherto secret TSA program which mandates that airlines operating outside of the U.S. conduct invasive security interviews of travelers before allowing them to return to America.

Read the lawsuit in full via the links below.

Corbett v. TSA IV – Petition (.pdf)

Corbett v. TSA IV – Motion for PI with Exhibits (.pdf)

 

 

source:http://www.infowars.com/tsa-hit-with-lawsuit-after-nixing-body-scanner-opt-out/

Ron Paul Warned About This: TSA Removes Opt-Out From Full Body Scanners

Ron-Paul

Never let a crisis go to waste. That is the motto of every government agency and every bureaucrat. Citing “heightened tensions over terrorism,” the Transportation Safety Administration has unilaterally decided that fliers can no longer “opt-out” of the potentially cancer-causing and completely useless full body scanners in favor of a pat-down from a TSA agent. There was no debate in Congress. Not even an executive order. It was just a rule made by an unelected and unaccountable body, as one might expect in a dictatorship. 

The TSA decision is a psychological defeat for liberty as well. Removing the option to “defy” the agency’s demand that travelers submit to the scanners takes away that little bit of what America once was, the independent spirit of a free people. Now, head down, we must march through like cattle as our rude overlords bark out orders. It didn’t have to be this way. Ron Paul saw this coming and introduced in several Congresses the American Traveler Dignity Act, which would have curtailed TSA powers and made TSA agents subject to the same assault laws as the rest of us. Here is a clip to remember while being corralled through the TSA cancer machines this Christmas season:

New Study Finds That State Crime Labs Are Paid Per Conviction

1st Dec 2015

I’ve previously written about the cognitive bias problem in state crime labs. This is the bias that can creep into the work of crime lab analysts when they report to, say, a state police agency, or the state attorney general. If they’re considered part of the state’s “team” — if performance reviews and job assessments are done by police or prosecutors — even the most honest and conscientious of analysts are at risk of cognitive bias. Hence, the countless and continuing crime lab scandals we’ve seen over the last couple decades. And this of course doesn’t even touch on the more blatant examples of outright corruption.

In a new paper for the journal Criminal Justice Ethics, Roger Koppl and Meghan Sacks look at how the criminal justice system actually incentivizes wrongful convictions. In their section on state crime labs, they discover some astonishing new information about how many of these labs are funded.

Funding crime labs through court-assessed fees creates another channel for bias to enter crime lab analyses. In jurisdictions with this practice the crime lab receives a sum of money for each conviction of a given type. Ray Wickenheiser says, ‘‘Collection of court costs is the only stable source of funding for the Acadiana Crime Lab. $10 is received for each guilty plea or verdict from each speeding ticket, and $50 from each DWI (Driving While Impaired) and drug offense.’’

In Broward County, Florida, ‘‘Monies deposited in the Trust Fund are principally court costs assessed upon conviction of driving or boating under the influence ($50) or selling, manufacturing, delivery, or possession of a controlled substance ($100).’’

Several state statutory schemes require defendants to pay crime laboratory fees upon conviction. North Carolina General Statutes require, ‘‘[f]or the services of’’ the state or local crime lab, that judges in criminal cases assess a $600 fee to be charged ‘‘upon conviction’’ and remitted to the law enforcement agency containing the lab whenever that lab ‘‘performed DNA analysis of the crime, tests of bodily fluids of the defendant for the presence of alcohol or controlled substances, or analysis of any controlled substance possessed by the defendant or the defendant’s agent.’’

Illinois crime labs receive fees upon convictions for sex offenses, controlled substance offenses, and those involving driving under the influence. Mississippi crime labs require crime laboratory fees for various conviction types, including arson, aiding suicide, and driving while intoxicated.

Similar provisions exist in Alabama, New Mexico, Kentucky, New Jersey, Virginia, and, until recently, Michigan. Other states have broadened the scope even further. Washington statutes require a $100 crime lab fee for any conviction that involves lab analysis. Kansas statutes require offenders ‘‘to pay a separate court cost of $400 for every individual offense if forensic science or laboratory services or forensic computer examination services are provided in connection with the investigation.’’
In addition to those already listed, the following states also require crime lab fees in connection with various conviction types: Arizona, California, Missouri, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

Think about how these fee structures play out in the day-to-day work in these labs. Every analyst knows that a test result implicating a suspect will result in a fee paid to the lab. Every result that clears a suspect means no fee. They’re literally being paid to provide the analysis to win convictions. Their findings are then presented to juries as the careful, meticulous work of an objective scientist.

No wonder there have been so many scandals. I’m sure we’ll continue to see more.

 

 

source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2013/08/29/in-some-states-crime-labs_n_3837471.html?ir=Australia

Councils and taxman to be given power to view your internet history

nsa-spying-keyhole

2nd Nov 2015

Councils, the taxman and dozens of other public bodies will be able to search the internet and social media activity of everyone in Britain, The Telegraph can disclose.

Technology firms will be required to keep records of the websites and apps which people have used and details of when they accessed them for 12 months under new powers unveiled this week.

The new powers, contained in legislation which is published on Wednesday, will primarily be used by police and the security services in pursuit of suspected terrorists and serious criminals.

They will not be allowed to see which pages people have viewed or their searches while on the websites and apps, or the content of any messages, without a warrant.

However, The Telegraph understands that a total of 38 bodies will also be entitled to access the records for the purpose of “detecting or preventing crime”.

A government source said that access will be “limited, targeted and strictly controlled” and overseen by a new Investigatory Powers Commissioner.

Ministers are also planning to introduce a new offence to deter the abuse of powers which will result in significant fines. Councils will also be required to get requests signed off by a magistrate before they are authorised.

‘It is a serious amount of information. I don’t think that the British public want councils to have access to this’ David Davis, Conservative MP

However David Davis, a senior Conservative MP, warned that the wider access to the information was potentially “dangerous” and could lead to abuse.

Town halls were granted permission to access private communications data 2,110 times last year, more than GCHQ and MI6 combined.

Mr Davis said: “It is a serious amount of information. I don’t think that the British public want councils to have access to this.”

Ministers have abandoned several of the most controversial elements of the so-called “snoopers’ charter” in an attempt to persuade Labour and Tory rebels to back the plans.

However Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is likely to face significant opposition if she refuses to give judges, rather than ministers, the power to sign off interception warrants.

According to reports, Mrs May is considering a “two stage” approval process in which ministers are responsible for the initial decision to sign off surveillance warrants, a decision which then has to be approved by a senior judge.

Both David Davis, a senior Conservative MP, and Keir Starmer, the shadow home affairs minister, said that judges should be involved in the decision from the “get go”.

Mr Davis suggested that without full judicial authorisation Mrs May would struggle to get the bill through both the Commons and the Lords.

It came after Mrs May insisted that the government has abandoned plans to allow police to access people’s full browsing history.

Internet companies will instead be required to record details of the websites which people have visited and the apps they have used, with the time they have accessed them.

The authorities will be able to see which websites were visited, but not the exact page that hey viewed.

The intelligence agencies, police and the National Crime Agency will be the most prolific users of the new powers.

But other bodies including the Financial Conduct Authority, HMRC, councils, the Health and Safety Executive and the Department for Work and Pensions will be able to access the information.

Mrs May told BBC One’s Andrew Marr show: “As people move into the digital age they no longer always communicate on telephone, they communicate over the internet.

“So, what we’re talking about is just knowing that first step, that who has been contacted [by whom] or did this particular device access WhatsApp at 13.10 or Facebook at 14.05 – it doesn’t go beyond that.

“It’s precisely this area of catching paedophiles and dealing with child abuse that is precisely one of the reasons why we want this ability to look at these internet connection records.”

Mrs May also confirmed that authorities will not be given new powers to limit encryption used by the biggest technology companies, despite previous suggestions by David Cameron that they could.

 

source:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/11968999/Councils-and-taxman-to-be-given-power-to-view-your-internet-history.html

Australia to trial cloud passports in world-first move

big brother facebook

29th Oct 2015

Australia is looking at trialling passport-less travel in a move Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop predicts will go global.

The idea of cloud passports is the result of a hipster-style-hackathon held at the Department of Foreign Affairs, which culminated in an X-Factor style audition before the secretary Peter Varghese, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, Assistant Minister Steve Ciobo and Chris Vein from the World Bank.

“We think it will go global.”

Earlier this year the call was put out to the diplomatic corps in Canberra and the 110 missions around the world for any idea that would provide a radical rethink of business as usual.

More than half the department’s staff responded by submitting, or by voting or commenting on one of the 392 pitches to the “DFAT Ideas challenge”.

The top 10 were presented to the quartet of judges, who favoured the idea of passport-less travel. Under a cloud passport, a traveller’s identity and biometrics data would be stored in a cloud, so passengers would no longer need to carry their passports and risk having them lost or stolen. DFAT says 38,718 passports were registered as lost or stolen in 2014-15, consistent with the 38,689 reported missing the previous year.

Australia and New Zealand are now in discussions about trialling cloud passports. Ms Bishop acknowledged there were security requirements that would have to be met in order to store biometrics in the cloud, but told Fairfax Media: “We think it will go global.”

The minister revealed the idea at the InnovationXchange headquarters in Canberra. InnovationXchange is a brainchild of the minister, dreamed up to disrupt the traditional ways bureaucrats distribute the aid budget, which the Coalition has severely cut since coming to office.

With its low slung chairs and beanbags for seats, standing desks and low hanging lightbulbs that wouldn’t look out of place in a converted warehouse in New York, Ms Bishop says the headquarters “would be at home in Silicon Valley”.

Staff dress casually and are encourage to shun suits. But the serious results they are already achieving in InnovationXchange’s short life are attracting attention from other departments, which have visited the team of nine staff to observe how they are challenging the cultural norms of bureaucracy.

Another initiative InnovationXchange is pioneering includes a US$100 million data collection service in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg sits on InnovationXchange’s reference group.

His organisation will tip in $85 million with the Australian government contributing $15 million.

“That’s my idea of public-private leverage,” Ms Bishop said.

Data for Health will collect basic births and deaths data in 20 countries. The so-called health census data will be open source and available to governments, NGOs and the media.

Demerits for 1km/h over limit

gtf

28th Oct 2015

The State Government needs to stop apologising for enforcing speed limits and introduce a demerit point penalty for drivers who flout the laws by even 1km/h, says a leading road safety adviser.

As fresh Department of Transport figures revealed that by mid-September 12,639 motor-ists had received driving bans this year for exceeding their points, Max Cameron called for a demerit-penalty — rather than just a fine — for speeding less than 10km/h over the limit.

The Monash University Accident Research Centre professor said the demerit system encouraged motorists to change their behaviour because they feared losing their licences.

But the system was less effective in WA because it was the only State without a demerit penalty for low-level speeding, he warned.

A police officer hands out a speeding ticket in a school zone. Picture: Mogens Johansen/ The West Australian

“Some people feel they can keep speeding at those low levels because they can afford to pay the fines and they’re not threatened with losing their licence by accumulating demerit points,” Professor Cameron said.

At least 35 per cent of WA’s more than 1.9 million registered drivers, including P-platers and learners, have demerit points, which take three years to clear.

By mid-September, 5708 people were waiting for a suspension notice after accruing the maximum 12 points and another 6563 were clinging to just one point.

Last year, 19,072 motorists, including 3285 novice drivers, were issued demerit point suspensions.

The State Government has not changed its position from when it ignored Road Safety Council advice to include a demerit penalty for low-level speeding during a review last year.

Road Safety Minister Liza Harvey said then that low-level speeding was not linked to the worst crashes, so she was not convinced it warranted a demerit penalty despite being one of the most common offences.

Professor Cameron said that with no demerit point for the offence, it was “almost saying the de facto speed limit is 10km/h above the posted limit”.

“That’s not a message the road authorities want to get across,” he said.

“It’s time all Australian States stop apologising for enforcing speed limits — they are road crimes.”

 

source:https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/29924248/demerits-for-1km-h-over-limit/

U.S. Will Require Drones to Be Registered

18th Oct 2015

The federal government will announce a new plan requiring anyone buying a drone to register the device with the U.S. Department of Transportation, NBC news has learned.

The government has been concerned about the rise in close calls between unmanned drones and aircraft flying into and out of some of the nation’s biggest airports. The plan is expected to be announced Monday.

In July, there was a dangerously close encounter between a drone and a passenger jet with 159 people aboard setting up to land at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The unmanned aerial vehicle was just 100 feet away from the passenger jet at an altitude of 1,700 feet; normal safe separation distance is between aircraft is at least 1,000 feet.

Private drones were also blamed for hampering aerial firefighting efforts over a California blaze in July.

Firefighting aircraft trying to attack the fast-moving blaze in the Cajon Pass had to leave the area for around 20 minutes over safety concerns, officials said. The fire swept over a busy freeway and torched 20 vehicles.

Under the plan, the government would work with the drone industry to set up a structure for registering the drones, and the regulations could be in place by Christmas.

Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed a $1.9 million fine against Chicago drone company SkyPan, which was alleged to have flown dozens of unauthorized flights over Chicago and New York since 2012

 

 

Source:http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/u-s-will-require-drones-be-registered-n446266

NYPD has super-secret X-ray vans

radiation

14th Oct 2015

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton won’t let the NYCLU — or anyone else — bully him for details on the NYPD’s super-secret X-ray vans.

 

The top cop was asked Tuesday about the counter-terror vehicles, called Z Backscatter Vans, in light of the NYCLU’s request to file an amicus brief arguing that the NYPD should have to release records about the X-ray vans.

“They’re not used to scan people for weapons,” Bratton insisted. “The devices we have, the vehicles if you will, are all used lawfully and if the ACLU and others don’t think that’s the case, we’ll see them in court — where they’ll lose! At this time and the nature of what’s going on in the world, that concern of theirs is unfounded.”

He declined to give more specific details about the devices themselves.

“Those are issues I’d prefer not to divulge to the public at this time,” Bratton said. “I will not talk about anything at all about this — it falls into the range of security and counter-terrorism activity that we engage in.”

The website ProPublica filed suit against the NYPD three years ago after an investigative journalist’s requests for police reports, training materials and health tests related to the X-rays were denied.

Modal Trigger

New York State Supreme Court Judge Doris Ling-Cohan ruled that the department should have to turn over the records, despite the NYPD’s arguments that disclosing that information could interfere with investigations.

“While this court is cognizant and sensitive to concerns about terrorism, being located less than a mile from the 9/11 site, and having seen firsthand the effects of terrorist destruction, nonetheless, the hallmark of our great nation is that it is a democracy, with a transparent government,” the judge wrote in the December 2014 decision.

The NYPD appealed that decision — and now the NYCLU has requested to file an amicus brief urging the appeals court to uphold the lower court’s original ruling.

“People should be informed if military-grade X-ray vans are damaging their health with radiation or peering inside their homes or cars,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “New Yorkers have a right to protect their health, welfare and privacy.”

Little is known about how the NYPD uses the high-tech machines, which reportedly cost between $729,000 and $825,000.

The vans are also employed by US Customs and Border Protection to scan for drugs and explosives.

 

source:

Border Force to check people’s visas on Melbourne’s streets this weekend

28th Aug 2015

Border Force officers will check people’s visas on the streets of Melbourne this weekend, the Federal Government has revealed.

In a statement, the Australian Border Force’s regional commander for Victoria and Tasmania, Don Smith, said his officers would be positioned at various locations around the city and would speak “with any individual we cross paths with”.

“You need to be aware of the conditions of your visa; if you commit visa fraud you should know it’s only a matter of time before you’re caught out,” he said.

The statement said border force officers would work with, “a diverse team of transport and enforcement agencies to target crime in the Melbourne Central Business District (CBD) as part of Operation Fortitude”.

“Tonight and tomorrow evening [Friday and Saturday] Metro Trains, Yarra Trams, the Sheriff’s Office, Taxi Services Commission and the ABF will join Victoria Police as part of the inter-agency operation.”

“With a particular focus on people travelling to, from and around the CBD, the group of agencies will work together to support the best interests of Melburnians, targeting everything from anti-social behaviour to outstanding warrants.”

Victorian Police released a statement saying the public transport system would “be at its safest … as a diverse team of transport and enforcement agencies take to the streets as a part of Operation Fortitude”.

“There is a lot of truth to the saying that there is strength in numbers,” Transit and Public Safety Command acting superintendent Campbell Mill said.

“From a policing perspective we will have Protective Services Officers, Passive Alert Detection Dogs, police, booze buses and automated number plate recognition vehicles deployed this Friday and Saturday night.

“While we are all separate organisations, we all have something in common – a responsibility to keep our community safe.

“In order to do that, we need to ensure that people are behaving appropriately.”

 

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-28/border-force-to-check-visas-on-the-streets-of-melbourne/6732086