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Police State

Police StateJeff Soyer on 31 Jan 2015 04:23 am

I think that this article is a good example.

Police StateJeff Soyer on 31 Oct 2014 03:01 am

We read about these incidences all the time. You’d think that cops would double-check their information first. This story, though, has a decent ending. From WFTV:

Kissimmee resident King Baker said he was startled from his sleep Thursday afternoon by the sounds of SWAT members bursting through his door and the sight of a gun to his head. It turns out the officers were in the wrong apartment.

“All I see is guns pointed at me, officers coming through the door. I hear, ‘boom, boom, boom,’ two to three times,” said Baker.

[ . . . ]

“When I told them my name and they was like, ‘Oh (expletive), we have the wrong house,’” said Baker.

Kissimmee officials told Channel 9’s Ryan Hughes that they messed up.

“Unfortunately a huge mistake was made and our SWAT team went into the adjacent apartment,” said Stacie Miller, with the Kissimmee Police Department.

[ . . . ]

Police broke some windows and a door jamb during the raid. They quickly made repairs to Baker’s residence.

The Kissimmee Police Department paid for a hotel room for Baker and his family overnight.

At least the Kissimmee Police Department quickly admitted their mistake, put Baker in a hotel, and repaired the damage. That’s a whole lot more than most police departments do when they fuck-up on these raids.

Police StateJeff Soyer on 30 Oct 2014 01:03 am

It really is sad that it’s come to this.

Police StateJeff Soyer on 20 Oct 2014 08:29 am

From The Hill:

FBI Director James Comey has launched a new “crypto war” by asking Congress to update a two-decade old law to make sure officials can access information from people’s cell phones and other communication devices.

The call is expected to trigger a major Capitol Hill fight about whether or not tech companies need to give the government access to their users.

“It’s going to be a tough fight for sure,” Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the Patriot Act’s original author, told The Hill in a statement.

He argues Apple and other companies are taking the privacy of consumers into their own hands because Congress has failed to pass legislation in response to public anger over the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

“While Director Comey says the pendulum has swung too far toward privacy and away from law enforcement, he fails to acknowledge that Congress has yet to pass any significant privacy reforms,” he added. “Because of this failure, businesses have taken matters into their own hands to protect their consumers and their bottom lines.”

Comey argues that trend will make it harder to solve crimes.

“If this becomes the norm, I suggest to you that homicide cases could be stalled, suspects walked free, child exploitation not discovered and prosecuted,” he said last week.

And since congress-critters on both sides of the aisle always put the constitutionally protected interests of citizens first… Oh wait! They never do that. Look for your “representatives” to fold like cheap cameras and grant Comey whatever he wants.

Somewhat related:

In a rare decision, the Florida Supreme Court ruled last Friday that law enforcement must get a warrant in order to track a suspect’s location via his or her mobile phone.

Many legal experts applauded the decision as a step in the right direction for privacy.

Meanwhile in Virginia:

While revelations from Edward Snowden about the National Security Agency’s massive database of phone records have sparked a national debate about its constitutionality, another secretive database has gone largely unnoticed and without scrutiny.

The database, which affects unknown numbers of people, contains phone records that at least five police agencies in southeast Virginia have been collecting since 2012 and sharing with one another with little oversight. Some of the data appears to have been obtained by police from telecoms using only a subpoena, rather than a court order or probable-cause warrant. Other information in the database comes from mobile phones seized from suspects during an arrest.

Emphasis mine.

Remember, the government, including the police, will gladly abuse any rights you are not willing to defend.

Police StateJeff Soyer on 13 Sep 2014 01:11 am

Talk about chutzpah. From TechDirt:

Reaping what you sow doesn’t seem to be an operative metaphor in the law enforcement world. Years of excessive force and biased policing by the Seattle PD resulted in a Dept. of Justice investigation. The final outcome was a series of reforms being ordered to address these issues [pdf]. These reforms — including a new use of force policy — went into effect at the beginning of 2014. And probably not a minute too late. 2013 saw the Seattle police officers performing 20% of the city’s homicides (6 out of 29 total).

But some officers on the force seem to prefer excessive force and discriminatory policing. The Oregonian reports that a group of Seattle police officers has set up a crowdfunding campaign to finance its legal battle against these reforms, which they say “violate” their “rights.”

Read the whole thing for many more details and arguments against what they’re doing.

Police StateJeff Soyer on 27 Aug 2014 12:28 pm

It’s not just the militarization of the police, but also civil-asset forfeiture laws that need reining in:

In March, Chris Sourovelis’ son was caught selling $40 of heroin to an undercover police officer.

Officers from the Philadelphia Police Department responded by raiding the Sourovelis’ north Philadelphia home, with guns drawn — one of them pointed at the head of the family dog — and found small amounts of the drug in the 22-year old’s bedroom. Chris and his wife, Amy, knew nothing of their son’s drug habit and it was the first time he had been busted for possessing narcotics.

A few weeks later, the cops were back to tell the Sourovelis family they had to gather their things and leave the property. The home was being confiscated under civil forfeiture rules, leaving the family homeless and forced to sleep on a neighbor’s couch.

Read the whole thing.

Police StateJeff Soyer on 24 Aug 2014 07:30 am

If you live on Long Island, NY, and recently got a traffic camera speeding ticket, this might interest you:

Nassau County of New York is forgiving thousands of speeding tickets issued this summer from malfunctioning speed cameras, totaling about $2.4 million in fines.

The Long Island county executive, Edward Mangano, said cameras from Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions near six schools were unreliable and issued tickets even when school was not in session. Traffic speeds are reduced dramatically during school hours.

“I don’t have a high confidence level that the cameras were operating at statutory levels,” Mangano told Newsday Friday. “So we are declaring amnesty with all tickets issued this summer.”

More at the link. Did you know that in Vermont, cops don’t need a radar gun to ticket you for speeding? They can just “estimate” how fast they THINK you were going. Frankly though, I’ve never heard of that actually happening.

Police StateJeff Soyer on 17 Aug 2014 05:48 am

A handy interactive map of what counties in the U.S. are receiving surplus military equipment. You can filter it by “type” with the icons above it.

Police StateJeff Soyer on 24 Jul 2014 04:43 am

I’ve never lived in a state that requires even a thumb print. A photo of my face was always good enough and in Vermont they’ll even retake the picture if you don’t like the way the first one came out. From Techdirt:

The Texas Dept. of Public Safety has apparently decided that if you’d like to be allowed to drive a vehicle in the state, you’d also perfectly fine with a criminal booking-style fingerprinting and having those immediately uploaded to a criminal database (that reps swear isn’t a criminal database).

[ . . . ]

Not only that, but since 2010, Texas law enforcement has been running facial recognition searches on DPS license photos with its Image Verification System.

When Lieber exposed this, thanks in part to a former DPS employee (who noted the full set of prints are uploaded to AFIS [Automated Fingerprint Identification Service], creating a record in criminal databases if no previous record exists), a spokesman for the agency said it was perfectly legal plus pretty awesome at fighting crime.

Yeah, I know, “If you have nothing to hide…”

Government Corruption and Police StateJeff Soyer on 06 Jul 2014 11:14 pm

Except the police:

As state officials across the country grapple with how to prevent mass killings, some are turning to a gun seizure law pioneered in Connecticut 15 years ago.

Connecticut’s law allows judges to order guns temporarily seized after police present evidence that a person is a danger to themselves or others. A court hearing must be held within 14 days to determine whether to return the guns or authorize the state to hold them for up to a year.

[ . . . ]

Police statewide filed an estimated 183 executed gun seizure warrants with court clerks last year, more than twice the number filed in 2010, according to Connecticut Judicial Branch data. Last year’s total also was nearly nine times higher than the annual average in the first five years of the gun seizure law.

Connecticut police have seized more than 2,000 guns using the warrants, according to the most recent estimate by state officials, in 2009.

Be very careful of what you say to people, or what you write online. All it takes is a “he said she said” call to the cops. The judges go along with whatever flimsy evidence cops present to them.

Police StateJeff Soyer on 09 May 2014 02:19 am

Albuquerque, New Mexico cops have earned a reputation as overly aggressive. Changes are in order:

The Albuquerque Police Department will require officers to use only department-issued firearms, reversing a policy criticized by the Department of Justice that allowed officers to use personal weapons as long as they had been certified to use them.

Officers received a memo Thursday that stated the department is in the process of getting new handguns, including Smith & Wesson 9 mm and Glock 9 mm handguns. The memo said that officers will be required to carry those weapons while on duty.

The DOJ report, issued last month, said that part of APD’s “aggressive culture” was that officers were buying expensive, high-powered guns for use on duty and viewed them as “status symbols.”

Well, it’s a start.

Not really related, but have you purchased a Sig Sauer .40 caliber pistol recently? From Fox40, CA:

The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office pulled its deputies off the streets Thursday afternoon and asked other local law enforcement agencies to respond to calls of service after a number of newly purchased duty weapons failed gun range testing, officials said.

“We recently purchased over 300 Sig Sauer .40-caliber handguns, and during qualification on the range, a couple of them failed,” said Deputy Les Garcia, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman. “Our range master contacted Sig, and Sig identified a part in this gun that will potentially cause them to malfunction.”

Government Corruption and Police StateJeff Soyer on 27 Mar 2014 02:29 am

The shocking, disturbing behavior of the cops, prosecutors, and judge in this case give all the reason needed for a . . . well for something to happen in this country of ours. The Washington Times’ Emily Miller has covered the story well, so for those of you who haven’t followed along, based upon what was later determined to be a meritless charge by his ex-wife, 30 (yes, 30) police officers executed a search warrant at his DC home. here’s some history:

After entering the house, the police immediately went upstairs, pointed guns at the heads of Mr. Witaschek and his girlfriend, Bonnie Harris, and demanded they surrender, facedown and be handcuffed.

[ . . . ]

His 16-year-old son was in the shower when the police arrived. “They used a battering ram to bash down the bathroom door and pull him out of the shower, naked,” said his father. “The police put all the children together in a room, while we were handcuffed upstairs. I could hear them crying, not knowing what was happening.”

[ . . . ]

The police shut down the streets for blocks and spent more than two hours going over every inch of his house. “They tossed the place,” said Mr. Witaschek. He provided photos that he took of his home after the raid to document the damage, which he estimated at $10,000.

The police found no guns in the house, but did write on the warrant that four items were discovered: “One live round of 12-gauge shotgun ammunition,” which was an inoperable shell that misfired during a hunt years earlier. Mr. Witaschek had kept it as a souvenir. “One handgun holster” was found, which is perfectly legal.

“One expended round of .270 caliber ammunition,” which was a spent brass casing. The police uncovered “one box of Knight bullets for reloading.” These are actually not for reloading, but are used in antique-replica, single-shot, muzzle-loading rifles.

Fast-forward to yesterday. Witaschek was convicted:

In a surprising twist at the end of a long trial, a District of Columbia judge found Mark Witaschek guilty of “attempted possession of unlawful ammunition” for antique replica muzzleloader bullets.

Judge Robert Morin sentenced Mr. Witaschek to time served, a $50 fine and required him to enroll with the Metropolitan Police Department’s firearm offenders’ registry within 48 hours.

While it’s true that the judge did not “throw the book” at Witaschek, he should have thrown the book into the trash and dismissed the charges:

The 25 conical-shaped, .45 caliber bullets, made by Knight out of lead and copper, sat on the judge’s desk. They do not have primer or gunpowder so cannot be propelled. The matching .50 caliber plastic sabots were also in the box.

There was much debate over whether the bullets were legal since D.C. residents are allowed to buy antique replica firearms without registering.

The judge seemed inclined to throw out this charge since he repeatedly asked how the bullets could be illegal if the gun that they go in was not.

During lunch, the government came up with a list from ATF of types of muzzleloader rifles that could be converted to use rimfire ammunition. Not that Mr. Witaschek owned one of these nor was modern ammo at issue in the trial.

Nevertheless Judge Morin said, “I’m persuaded these are bullets. They look like bullets. They are hollow point. They are not musket balls.” He then ruled that Mr. Witaschek had possessed “beyond a reasonable doubt” the copper-and-lead, conical-shaped pieces in D.C.

The judge, however, still seemed to think this was a strange issue for a court. “It’s taken four lawyers all afternoon to get through an interpretation of whether or not these are lawful,” he noted.

Right then and there, he should have dismissed the case. If for lawyers need a day to figure out what is legal and what isn’t, how is the average citizen supposed to interpret the thousands of gun laws on the books?

Read the full articles at the links for a lot more about the injustice done to Mark Witaschek. His lawyer says they will appeal. Let’s hope so, and that a higher court uses more common sense. BTW, I wonder what the cost to taxpayers was for this entire travesty?

Oh, and here’s the hypocrisy of the prosecutor’s office:

The D.C. attorney general on Friday declined to charge the host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” for displaying an empty ammunition magazine on national television, saying that doing so would not make the District safer.

[ . . . ]

In a letter to NBC, Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan admonished Gregory for knowingly flouting the law, but Nathan said he decided to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” and not pursue a criminal case. “Prosecution would not promote public safety in the District of Columbia, nor serve the best interests of the people,” Nathan wrote.

But the prosecution of Witaschek did?

We’re coming to a tipping point in this nation — one that could easily set off a rebellion of some sort. I’ll say nothing more than that.

Police StateJeff Soyer on 13 Feb 2014 03:42 am

From The Blaze:

Police had received 47,916 applications for “assault weapons certificates” and 21,000 incomplete applications as of Dec. 31, Lt. Paul Vance told The Courant.

At roughly 50,000 applications, officials estimate that as little as 15 percent of the covered semi-automatic rifles have actually been registered with the state. “No one has anything close to definitive figures, but the most conservative estimates place the number of unregistered assault weapons well above 50,000, and perhaps as high as 350,000,” the report states.

Needless to say, officials and some lawmakers are stunned.

Yes, it must be disturbing when the lemmings don’t all jump off the cliff.

Police StateJeff Soyer on 16 Jan 2014 02:58 am

From CBS Atlanta, GA:

A businessman was thrown in jail for carrying a gun and loitering on his own property.

Eric Lee, the owner of a furniture store on in Lithonia, Ga., said he went outside to check on people making noise on his property. That’s when police showed up, cited him for loitering, towed his truck and arrested him on his own property, WSB-TV reported.

More details here.

The police, everywhere, are out of control.

Police StateJeff Soyer on 14 Jan 2014 05:09 pm

Several (as in more than two) police departments are seeking applicants to carry out the duties usually assigned to patrol officers, sheriffs, and staties. The jobs include conducting evictions, transporting people to jail, make arrests, the usual. For instance, Wichita, Kansas is looking for:

In Wichita, Kansas, they are looking for someone to not only make arrests, but to take prisoners to jail as well as conduct “specialized investigations and raids.” The position “involves an element of personal danger,” so applications should have the “ability to accurately and effectively discharge a rifle, shotgun, and handgun with both left and right hands” and should also be able “to react quickly and calmly in emergencies; to record details about names, faces, and incidents quickly, clearly, and accurately.”

All these jobs are dangerous and involve carrying a deadly weapon. They entail giving a human being the power to detain another human being, and the benefit of the doubt if they should shoot one. And all the positions are unpaid.

No training required. After all, what could you possibly need to know about state law, proper investigation of a crime scene, conducting witness interviews, and all of that other useless stuff that professional — passed a state certification training course — policeman have to pass, to qualify for these unpaid internships?

Flippancy aside, the newspapers lately are filled with instances where actual — allegedly professional — police officers don’t seem to have had any training themselves. They — not all, of course — are increasingly violent, militarized, unable to distinguish real and not real threats, and have adopted a shoot first and ask questions later mentality. They are abusive in both action and language in situations (such as traffic stops) that don’t call for such tactics. They seem hell-bent on escalating incidents instead of diffusing them.

Police StateJeff Soyer on 11 Jan 2014 03:28 am

You can watch it here.

Seems to be happening more often these days. Or, maybe more law abiding folks are simply taking advantage of their right to open carry. Further or (English teachers cringing), maybe more folks are open carrying and hoping for a challenge from cops.

Police StateJeff Soyer on 27 Dec 2013 05:37 am

The Daily Caller catalogs a dozen of the worst cases. You could have a list of the worst 100 incidents and still not scratch the surface.

Police StateJeff Soyer on 18 Dec 2013 04:20 am

If you registered a firearm in the District of Columbia any time between 1976-2010, you must register it again. Warning: Auto-start video at the link.

Big changes for gun owners in the nation’s capital will impact tens of thousands of law-abiding citizens, many of whom have no idea the change is coming.

The new requirement for gun owners in the District goes into effect next year and failure to comply could land you in jail.

Starting Jan. 1, all registered gun owners in the District must re-register their firearms within 90 days. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said notices will start going out to gun owners soon.

That’s nice, but for the guy who registered his shotgun in the ’70’s, maybe he’s moved since then?

Oh, by the way, the new law says you’ll have to re-register it every three years from now on. Not that they’re keeping tabs on you. . . .

Police StateJeff Soyer on 09 Dec 2013 05:19 am

I wasn’t even aware that Washington registered handguns. From KHQ:

Washington residents are buying handguns too fast for police to keep up.

The state’s firearms database is months behind. The Department of Licensing began November with a backlog of about 106,000 pistol transfers to enter into the database used by city, county and state authorities to find owners of handguns that turn up during investigations.

According to the article, they’re still entering transfers from last March.

Police StateJeff Soyer on 29 Nov 2013 07:02 am

I’ve seen this story kicking around for a day or two now. From the Blaze:

New York City has reportedly started sending out confiscation notices ordering gun owners to “immediately surrender” rifles and/or shotguns capable of holding more than five rounds of ammunition. It is illegal to possess a rifle or shotgun with the capacity to hold more than five rounds in the city, according to NYC Administrative Code 10-306 (b).

An alleged notice sent to an NYC resident, dated Nov. 18, offers the gun owner the following options:

1. Immediately surrender your Rifle and/or Shotgun to your local police precinct, and notify this office of the invoice number. The firearm may be sold or permanently removed from the City of New York thereafter.

As far as I know, NYC has always had such a restriction; they’re simply enforcing it now, possibly because the NY State “SAFE Act” is about to kick-in. You can see, though, how easily registration leads to confiscation.

And, you know, bolt-action rifles are the preferred “assault weapons” for mass murderers . . .

I feel for my NY readers, but I think back to the words my cousin told me when I was considering moving to Vermont, from N.J. 20-or-so-years ago: “You can live where the money is good, or you can live where the environment is good.” By environment, he wasn’t just referring to the pretty Green Mountains. I’ll grant, it’s not always an easy choice when you have a family depending on you. I didn’t, and I wanted to leave the crime, crowds, and gun restrictions behind me. I’ve never regretted it.

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