Friday, April 29, 2005

I heard that!

From my first stop in the morning, CrimProf Blog:

State and federal prosecutors applied for 1,710 wire taps last year, a dramatic increase over prior years. Wiretap applications are similar to search warrants, and require a demonstration of probable cause that incriminating conversations will be recorded. Every single wiretap application submitted to a judge last year in this country was approved. Every single one? When I was a federal prosecutor, some judges would approve a wiretap application after a quick skim-read, as they can be lengthy and time-consuming. One federal judge, who shall remain nameless, looked at the size of the application and asked me, "Is there probable cause here?" When I said yes, he started to sign it without reading a word. I had to respectfully ask him to read it. But most judges really busted my chops on the probable cause issue. All 1,710 applications approved? Have our judges become rubber stamps after 9/11? Story . . . [Mark Godsey]


Am I the only one who read this and said "Woo hoo!"? Every app was accepted! That's outstanding!

First of all, ignore the fact that there were 1,710 wiretaps and concentrate on the fact that on 1,710 occasions, we conducted a "search" with total due process from the court. This isn't even a story about law enforcement playing fast and loose with search and seizure considerations. This is 1,710 cases of the system doing what the system is supposed to do.

Some people may worry that innocent people will be tapped. I'm okay with that. If nothing else, it will help prove your innocence that much quicker. Also, I highly doubt that Gladys Abernathy, octogenarian from Macon, Georgia will have her phone tapped by the big mean FBI. I suspect it will be males ages 18-34 with names like Mohammed, Ackbar, and Bin Laden, who make frequent calls and trips to the Middle East and who just signed up for flight school.

And you know something? If I moved to Japan and then one day 20 young white Christian males who watched professional wrestling with unhealthy fervor suddenly blew up Tokyo, I would expect to have my phone tapped too. Hell, I'd probably request to have my phone tapped just so that I'm totally above board.

Besides, they are going to be very bored listening in on my calls. I hate the phone.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

And the problem is...?

CrimProf blog quotes TalkLeft.com when they say:


1 of every 138 U.S. residents are in jail.

The prison population grew by 900 inmates per week between 2003 and 2004.

8,000 more prisoners were admitted to federal prisons than were released.

2.1 million people are housed in our prisons and jails."

And the problem is...? Last time I checked, you have to get this thing called due process before you are deprived of your liberty. It's not like people are just being thrown into jail for no reason. They are committing crimes. They are violating their agreement with society. That fact that more and more of them are being removed from society is a good thing.
The violent crime rate decreased 3.9% from 2002 to 2003. From 1994 to 2003 the rate fell 33.4%.
The property crime rate decreased 1.2% from 2002 to 2003. From 1994 to 2003, the rate fell 23%.

Here, have some more stats that match these.

I think the real story is that despite the fact that we put a lot of people behind bars, there is still an iPod stealing epidemic in New York.

You know what that means? We're going to be increasing that prison population again!

Hooray!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

This town ain't big enough for the both of us...

From your fav and mine, CrimProf Blog:

From NPR.com: "With sex offenders accused of two recent high-profile murders in the state, the city of Miami Beach, Fla., is considering a law that would effectively run registered offenders out of town. The city's mayor -- and the opposition -- talk about balancing public safety and civil liberties." [Mark Godsey]
Civil liberties... remind me about that civil liberty that forces good and innocent people to live next to sex offenders. I'm sure it's somewhere in the constitution, but the article escapes me. What about people's right not to be raped and murdered? Do we have that right at least?

Sex crimes really represent a break with humanity in some sense. Molesting a child, raping a woman and the like really show an inhumanity in the offender. They show a brokenness inside the person. This isn't simple theft, it's not even something really bad like a fatal DUI. This is a person who has shocked our most primal sensibilities. It indicates a sickness that, to my knowledge, is never really cured.

And we want to let them move next door.

We apparently tell honest, law-abiding citizens that if they don't like it, they can leave because we want to make sure that the child molestor can live where he wants. Real nice.

My philosophy is this: local government sets the local rules. If the city of Brea doesn't want to be a home to sex offenders, they shouldn't have to be. With any luck, we can force all sex offenders to move out to some desert camp somewhere where they can molest cactuses and leave the rest of us alone.

A man can dream, can't he?

Monday, April 25, 2005

A story from the Sun Sentinel out of Florida



DELRAY BEACH -- The father of a teenager shot and killed by a rookie police officer plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, his attorney said.A Palm Beach County judge recommended Thursday that Delray Beach Police Officer Darren Cogoni be charged with manslaughter for the death of 16-year-old Jerrod Miller. Cogoni, 23, finished police training three weeks before the shooting. Willie Gary, the attorney for the teen's father, Kenneth Miller, did not say Friday how much money he would seek in damages. But in a letter to city officials, Gary said he is also suing for more supervision of rookie police officers, better training in the use of deadly force, more minority recruiting and a community police liaison.City Manager David Harden declined to comment on the pending lawsuit. Jerrod Miller was shot in the back of the head Feb. 26 as he drove across the Delray Full Service Center high school campus. Cogoni asked to see Miller's driver license, and the teenager, who did not have one, drove off erratically, scattering students gathered outside the school gym, according to witnesses. Cogoni said he fired to protect bystanders mingling in the path of Miller's car. State Attorney Barry Krischer is expected to decide in the next two to three weeks if Cogoni will be charged, a spokesman said.
Usually I post a story about a cop on trial and I explain why we should cut the cop some slack. Usually, I stick up for cops in deadly force situations, giving them the benefit of the doubt. This time, I just can't see how this is defensible. It doesn't even make any sense!

Officer Cogoni fired a gun towards a car speeding away from him in order to protect people in the path of the car? That means that the bystanders were in the path of his bullets! Not to mention the use of force issues involved in shooting a car that's not coming at you, not to mention the fact that killing a driver will not immediately stop the car anyway. If we have a driver trying to run down a cop, then you have assault with a deadly weapon and it makes sense to use deadly force to combat the deadly force being used against you. When you have some brain-dead idiot teenager trying to escape, it's not anywhere near the same thing.

I know Florida has different peace officer standards and training, but I seriously doubt this is how officers are trained. As much as I hate the idea of suing cops and departments, in this case, I don't blame the dad. I'm willing to bet that Cogoni acted outside his training and his department policy, and you just can't do that.


x

I'm sure there's a joke about shooting craps in here...

Sorry for the delayed post. I had to get a rental car taken care of because some lovely person backed out of a parking space and right into me!

Anyways, Alex from
Law and Ordnance sent me this nifty news item:

SAN ANTONIO -- This is one story they'll be telling around the San Antonio Police Department for a long time. An off-duty officer was at a San Antonio auto auction house yesterday when nature called, a police spokesman said. Officer Craig Clancy strolled to the appropriate facility and was lowering his trousers when his pistol fell from his waistband. When Clancy fumbled for the falling firearm, it went off, twice. One of the bullets nicked a bit of floor tile into the leg of a man who was washing his hands nearby. That man was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Police internal affairs is investigating.

What can you say?

If you drop a gun, don't fumble for it. Chances are it will NOT go off if you let it fall. Chances are it WILL go off if you fumble around with it.

Lesson learned.

Friday, April 22, 2005

No Child Left Unsearched

From CBC news:

MONTREAL - Police in Montreal are raising concerns about the involvement of young children in gang activity. They say children as young as nine or 10 years old are being recruited into street gangs. A 14-year-old was sentenced on Tuesday for the brutal stabbing of 65-year-old Martha Taylor Gregory last January. The teen was only 13 when the incident occurred. Police say he's been known to them since he was 10.

"We do have examples of very young children as young as 10 that have been associated with street gangs," said Yves Riopel, the commander of the anti-gang section of the organized crime division for the Montreal police. Riopel says the recruitment of young children has not reached alarming proportions, yet. Harry Delva, the youth projects co-ordinator at La Maison D'Haiti, says street gangs find younger recruits particularly attractive "because they know that the police and other people won't search the younger ones.

"Mostly what they do is take the kids and put them on the bus and then they become carriers. So they are going to carry drugs and sometimes they are going to carry weapons." Delva believes gang violence is on the upswing in Montreal and that this summer could be a difficult one.



Lesson Number 1 for all you law enforcement out there: search them all. Especially the women and the youngsters. Those gangbangers think you're stupid. They think you're just going to slouch through your whole career and that they can bamboozle you. Don't prove them right. Know their tricks and show 'em who's smarter and more cunning.

There are a number of things we need to consider in thinking about why this happens at all: first of all, too many kids don't have a good dad at home. Over here in the States, over 70% of black kids are born out of wedlock. That's an incredible figure. And when we talk about crime being more prevalent in the minority community, it's more like crime is prevalent in the fatherless community. What is frustrating is that no one can really do anything about this. Until we issue a license to breed, people are going to do what they do without thought of social consequences.

It also doesn't help that hip-hop/gangster/thug culture is the new chic style today. Even suburban white kids are listening to hardcore gangsta rap. It's everywhere and the culture permeates all races and groups. Unfortunately, it is one of the most despicable cultures we've seen in awhile. It glorifies crime, mayhem, and violence and it venerates pimps and thugs. Hip-hop culture idolizes victimizers if you want to get right down to it. So we see that the dominant cultural climate is that is pro-crime, anti-woman, and (last but not least) anti-cop. And we wonder how 10 year olds end up as gang mules.

Those are two problems that really can't be solved by the ingenuity of men. As to what actions we CAN take, I have no idea. I think about it a lot. I brainstorm ideas, but at 22 I don't think I have the experience to even scratch the surface. Maybe someday we'll figure it out. If you have any ideas, let's hear em.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Slightly Embarrassing

From The Herald Sun:

THE reputation of Papua New Guinea's capital as one of the world's most crime-ridden cities has been given an unwanted boost with news that Port Moresby's police chief was assaulted and robbed within sight of a major police station.

Assistant Commissioner Tony Wagambie was held up and assaulted on Wednesday by six armed men who stole his vehicle, a mobile phone and a small amount of cash, a police spokesman said today. Mr Wagambie was in uniform just 400m from Port Moresby's Gordons Police Station, where Australian police assigned to help battle lawlessness in the former Australian colony are based. The incident also came just days after Mr Wagambie denied newspaper reports that there had been an upsurge in armed robberies in Port Moresby since the detachment of 145 Australian police arrived in January as part of a $US600 million ($782m) five-year aid program to fight crime and corruption in PNG.

Oops! That can't be spun in any redeeming way for that police department.

It goes to show you, though, how if police do not possess a good command presence both individually and as a department, crooks don't care. Not everyone is afraid of our pretty uniforms, shiny badges, and bad-ass guns. Many of them have cooler guns than we do anyway!

I don't know how to solve crime in Papua New Guinea, but this does serve as a lesson to departments here in the US: Don't lose your edge. Don't give up your command presence. Don't let criminals think you are pushovers. Otherwise, your chief might get robbed less than a mile from your station.

(HT: CrimProf Blog)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Two interesting court cases

From the fine gentlemen at CrimProf Blog:


U.S. Law Week notes that the Supreme Court granted review in two criminal cases yesterday:

1. Maryland v. Blake, No. 04-373 -- When a police officer improperly communicates with an in-custody suspect after the suspect has invoked his right to counsel, does the rule of Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477 (1981), against reinitiation of custodial interrogation permit consideration of curative measures taken by the police to conclude that a suspect's later initiation of communications with the police was voluntary?

2. Georgia v. Randolph, No. 04-1067 -- When two persons have equal use and control of a residence, may one occupant give the police permission to conduct a warrantless search of the common areas of the premises over the objection of the other occupant? [Mark Godsey]

I don't know what number 1 really means, so perhaps one of you law talking guys can explain it to the rest of the class. What it sounds like it's trying to decide is whether or not police can give evidence that in-custody suspects voluntarily reinitiated interrogation after they invoked their rights. If that's the case, I obviously have no problem with that.

Number two is of more interest to me. According to my academy training, at least in California, occupants of a home can consent to searches of common areas. I don't see why this should be problem. It makes sense that if Jim and Tim share a house, Jim can't give consent to search Tim's room. It doesn't make sense that Jim couldn't give consent to search the kitchen.

My one beef with consent searching is that parents cannot give consent to search their child's room. I don't think children should have that kind of right to privacy that supercedes their parents. I was raised under the banner of "My House, My Rules", so if dad wants to let the police look through Junior's stuff while Junior is living in dad's house, he should be allowed to. If Junior doesn't like it, he can pay rent on the room and make it "his". But apparently precedent is not on my side.... yet... ;)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

He makes criminals go bananas! (stupid joke sorry)

From My Way News:

MESA, Ariz. (AP) - The Mesa Police Department is looking to add some primal instinct to its SWAT team. And to do that, it's looking to a monkey.

"Everybody laughs about it until they really start thinking about it," said Mesa Officer Sean Truelove, who builds and operates tactical robots for the suburban Phoenix SWAT team. "It would change the way we do business."

Truelove is spearheading the department's request to purchase and train a capuchin monkey, considered the second smartest primate to the chimpanzee. The department is seeking about $100,000 in federal grant money to put the idea to use in Mesa SWAT operations. The monkey, which costs $15,000, is what Truelove envisions as the ultimate SWAT reconnaissance tool.

Since 1979, capuchin monkeys have been trained to be companions for people who are quadriplegics by performing daily tasks, such as serving food, opening and closing doors, turning lights on and off, retrieving objects and brushing hair. Truelove hopes the same training could prepare a monkey for special-ops intelligence.

Weighing only 3 to 8 pounds with tiny humanlike hands and puzzle-solving skills, Truelove said it could unlock doors, search buildings and find suicide victims on command. Dressed in a Kevlar vest, video camera and two-way radio, the small monkey would be able to get into places no officer or robot could go.


Remember how I said yesterday that the new guard is more attuned to rapid progress? Well, there you have it. (Unless using animals to do human work is not considered progress. Except, I can't think of a single people-group prior to 1969 that used animals to do work more efficiently. Nope, not even one. Progress it is!)

In any event, I think we should have a whole menagerie of animals in law enforcement. We can use rhinos to batter down doors, we can send in police panthers which are faster than dogs, we can have police falcons snatch weapons from the hands of crooks, and we use police killer whales for the harbor division.

Can any of you think of any uses for animals in law enforcement?

Monday, April 18, 2005

It's no good to have it and not use it...

From the Toledo Blade:

At least six traffic stops. Five driver's license renewals. One night in jail.

At any of those times, Toledo's most elusive murder suspect could have been nabbed in a four-decade-old electronic, nationwide web for fugitives - had Toledo police entered the arrest warrant into an FBI database. Now, the arrest of David Delacruz raises a key question: Are there other fugitives whose warrants have not been entered into the proper electronic databases?

Toledo police have 8,476 active warrants, dating to 1954, court records show. A third of those are felonies - the more serious category of crime. Toledo police say they don't have a system in place to ensure fugitives' names have been entered into the correct databases.

While such information has been automatically sent to databases since the late 1980s, old warrants had to be typed in. And police have no central repository for those old paper warrants, particularly from the 1970s. Court records show Toledo police have 512 active felony warrants issued before 1980.


Police technology is a great thing, but you have to actually use it for it to be effective.

To be fair, I think many old American institutions are still playing catch-up to modernity. Businesses have to be a technologically advanced as possible because they make their money from efficiency and customer service. If a business is behind the times, it's going to lose money and go out of business.

Cops, on the other hand, don't make profit from their business savvy. Whether they have lots of technology or very little, it doesn't make a huge difference to their bottom line. Some departments still make their officers hand write all their reports! Clearly efficiency isn't on some department's radar screen.

Eventually it will get all worked out. Not to rag on police veterens or anything like that, but I think that now that the old guard is passing on and younger generation are becoming the Captains, Commanders, Chiefs, Commissioners, and Mayors, we are seeing the birth of a real techno-boom in policing. This is not to say that the old guard is holding us all back or being obstinate (though perhaps some are), but rather that I think Generation X is just more culturally attuned to rapid progress. It's a socio-cultural thing rather than an ego thing. I'm certainly not eager to lose many of our vets because they have so much wisdom to impart. I mean, some of our instructors were out patrolling before cops carried radio packs. Can you imagine policing downtown LA without access to a radio? That takes some real courage and some real skills.

Anyways, it's an exciting time to be entering law enforcement. For all the stupid lawsuits and ridiculous vitriol against cops, all the new toys we get to play with that help us put bad guys in jail totally make up for it.

Friday, April 15, 2005

A little thing called tact...

I found this story on this site.

Lori came home to find her daughters fighting that Monday evening. Her 12-year-old had kicked a hole in the door, and the girls were hitting and throwing things at each other. She feared one or both would be seriously hurt.

She called 911 and asked for help. Her 12-year-old daughter was out of control, she told the call-taker."OK. Do you want us to come over to shoot her?" the dispatcher asked, according to a recording released this week.

For five seconds, the line went dead."Are you there?" the call-taker asked."Excuse me?" Lori said.Mike Forbess, a dispatcher of five years for the Watauga Department of Public Safety, then told her he was joking and apologized. But Lori cannot get his comment out of her head.

Hmmm... Something tells me that might have been inappropriate. But in Forbess' defense, he did apologize immediately and owned up to his supervisor immediately. That's not good enough for Lori though. She wants blood.

"This is a slap in the face that my child was not important enough, my call for help, my 911 call was not important enough that he had to make a joke about it," Lori said Monday. She asked that her last name not be used to avoid identifying her daughters, one of whom has emotional problems.

Forbess immediately told his supervisor about the call. He received a letter of reprimand two days later. Forbess received a second letter of reprimand from Chief David Van Laar on Monday, the same day the Star-Telegram obtained a copy of the 911 call recording, and of Forbess' disciplinary records. The mother, however, said her faith in the 911 system remains shaken. She said she plans to file a formal complaint. "I do not have words to tell you how shocked I am that someone is allowed to do this," she said. "You don't do people like this, and then get a slap on the wrist."

In his letter to Forbess, Van Laar wrote: "This type of response cannot be tolerated, and this letter shall serve as notice that any future unprofessional responses while answering the 911 line will be cause for termination."But the reprimand is not enough, the mother said.The next time she has an emergency, she said, she won't feel safe calling 911.

"This man does need to be disciplined," Lori said. "How can a person in this line of work be so unfeeling that he asked a person who needed help, 'Would you like us to come over and shoot your child?'"That's an interoffice disciplinary action," she said of the reprimands. "That doesn't do anything."

Wow, way to be reasonable lady. Yeah, Forbess was a moron for cracking a joke on a 911 line. He probably thought he was helping calm her down or diffuse some rage and instead he put his foot in his mouth. We all do it, it's part of life. He received reprimands and his job is on thin ice. That's plenty. But this lady acts like she is going to boycott 911.

Also, she talks about him being unfeeling in her time of crisis, but she has to realize that it looks like she is calling 911 to step in and parent for her. Her child is acting up and she gets afraid and calls the cops. Some people are bound to take it a little less seriously than, like, a fire, a murder, a rape, or a robbery. Have a little perspective Lori.

So if you guys were the Chief, what would you have done about this?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Anticop Legislation in Texas

Very disturbing story on GritsForBreakfast today:



"Talk about a strange coalition," said state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, when he realized the ACLU and the National Rifle Association both supported banning so-called "consent searches" at trafic stops. Sen. Juan Hinojosa sponsored HB 1195, which was heard and left pending in yesterday's Senate Criminal Justice Committee. (See MSM coverage here and here.)That bill would disallow officers from requesting consent to search people's vehicles at traffic stops without cause.


First of all, what the hell is the NRA doing with the ACLU? That's troubling right off the bat.

Several other states, including Rhode Island, New Jersey, Minnesota, Hawaii and the California Highway Patrol already disallow such searches. About 35% of all searches at traffic stops in Texas are consent searches, according to figures reported as part of departments' racial profiling statistics.Both advocates and law enforcement agreed that consent searches are only rarely "productive," meaning officers don't often find contraband when they conduct them.

"You are right that in the vast majority of the time, we found nothing,"a police union representative told the committee. That seemed to bolster Hinojosa's claim that consent searches are a "waste of law enforcement's time." Nobody thought there would be a significant law enforcement impact. A representative from San Antonio PD defended consent searches by saying it was officers' job "to ask questions," but admitted that "I don't believe we'll be hindered in the majority of our job. ... The sky isn't going to fall" if the bill passes, she said.


Maybe I'm nuts but I don't think the idea behind searches is that they yield fruit 95% of the time. It's to find the 5% of people with illegal stuff. Most people are good people. Hell, I could have even told you that you won't find things on most searches. Why remove a useful tool from our bag of tricks just because it doesn't catch a bad time many times.

Also, I reject the notion that it is unproductive. It's actually quite productive: it removes any question about whether they have illegal stuff! Once the search is over, everyone is on the same page and we all know whether or not the driver is a criminal. Everyone wins (except crooks)! How is that not productive? It's produces a good analysis about what is going on.

Sen. Seliger, R-Amarillo, in particular thought the threat of arrest invalidated the ability to deny consent. He seemed to be searching for a compromise, and at one point suggested that requiring written consent might be the way to go. That would make a big difference. The City of Austin began requiring written consent last year, and the number of people allowing their vehicles to be searched declined by 63%

Well gee, that's something to be proud of! "I made sure that cops got to do their jobs less effectively almost 2/3 of the time!". And he's a Republican! That's what I get for praising Republicans in my previous post. Ha ha, very funny.

Anyway, at this rate, pretty soon, we'll have to get written consent from the suspect and the UN before we can arrest anyone, and we won't be able to use cuffs, batons, guns, or stern language. I'm starting to forget why I want to get in this line of work...

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

News Bits

From NewsDay.com:



DALLAS -- A set of numerals written on the back of a dead man's hand turned out to be a license plate number that led police to his suspected killers. Police noticed the numbers as they looked over the body of 18-year-old Francisco Lopez, who was shot near his home on Sunday.

On Saturday night, Lopez had noticed a blue Monte Carlo cruising around his home. Lopez thought the men riding in it might try to steal his Cadillac, so he wrote their car's license plate number on his hand, police said.

The next day, Lopez and his girlfriend were returning home when Lopez saw the car again, confronted the men and was shot to death, police said. Brothers Javier Izaguirre, 21, and Reymundo Izaguirre, 20, were arrested and charged with murder.


This somewhat goes back to my monday post about fighting back, being aware of what's going on, and doing something about crime. This victim paid attention and used his head and even though he was killed, the two cockroaches who did it are behind bars now.

And from the SF Gate:



Parole violators will be sent back to prison rather than to drug treatment programs or home detention beginning Monday under a sweeping change to California's troubled parole system.

State corrections officials said they decided to do away with diversion programs that served as an alternative to prison because there was no evidence the lesser sanctions work. The policy had been pushed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration as a way to rehabilitate ex-convicts and to save money by reducing the prison population. In his weekly radio address, Schwarzenegger stressed the state's concern and aid for crime victims after his administration abandoned the program, which was
under fire from crime victims' advocates and parole agents.

The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday that the Schwarzenegger administration had dropped a program that allowed jail-based drug treatment, halfway house programs or home detention with electronic monitoring as an alternative to prison for some low-level parole violators.

The state adopted the alternative programs under former Gov. Gray Davis and expanded them about a year ago after a nonpartisan watchdog agency called the state's parole system "a billion-dollar failure" because 67 percent of ex- convicts returned to prison.

Gee, another feel-good-do-nothing program bites the dust. And what a shock it was a Republican who had to clean up an expensive and useless mess made by a Democrat. What do you want to bet that Governor Arnold will be called "insensitive" and "anti-rehab" and "typical Republican jerk"? Never mind that it was an ineffective program that wasted valuable resources. "Oh it's always about money with you Republicans... what about humanity? What about giving people a second chance?"

Not interested, because in this case, the criminal has squandered his second chance. No need to waste the money. Let's spend it on researching alternative energy. That'll be a little more useful.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

South African Police Need Help

Funny story out of everybody's favorite Dutch-African country:

Cape Town's dumbest crook award must surely go to the man who stole an activated security camera from a building in Woodstock, leaving video footage of himself taking his loot.

But in spite of having the damning footage, Cape Town central detectives have been unable to solve the crime in more than four months.The owner of the building in Newmarket Street, fearing for her safety, has only given her first name, Carol. She said she was turning to the Cape Argus to publish images from the video in the hope that someone may recognise the culprit.

She said the incident happened late at night on November 4 last year, when three men pulled up in a car outside her club in Newmarket Street. "They first lurked around a bit and then one of the guys lifted his friend up so that he could reach the camera."It was reality TV all the way. He looked straight into the lens, probably thinking that it had not been connected, or else he was just plain stupid,"


What can you say about this? You just laugh and move on.

Thank God none of us have ever totally made fools of ourselves out on the job...

Monday, April 11, 2005

Stand Your Ground In Florida

CrimProf, as usual, has something interesting up on their site:


The legislature has enacted a statute permitting a person assailed outside their home to stand their ground rather than retreat before using deady or non-deadly force.


This is great step in the right direction for what I would call an attitude of nonvictimization. I don't think the State should force people to cower, to hide, to run, to back down, to surrender, to retreat, to not fight back when they are attacked. I think too often we cultivate an attitude of "Oh, I'll just let big people terrorize me and as long as I don't stand up for myself, I'll be okay". Sometimes, this works. But as we all know, many crooks are violent little jerks who will wound or kill even submissive victims. You have to remember that people who have decided to spend their time victimizing people aren't right in the head. They aren't predictable. They don't do what normal people do.

I wouldn't want to counsel people with a blanket statement of "always fight back", but by the same token, I will never tell you to lay down and be a good victim. I don't believe in it. It's one thing if it's you versus 5 ex-cons with shotguns. In that case, it would be suicide to try and fight the guys directly. But always have a plan. Always be thinking of how you can escape quickly or, if all else fails, how you can kill as many of them as possible before they get you. And when it's one on one, seriously put some thought behind standing up for yourself. You don't know what this animal is capable of and I think you need to prepare yourself to do violence if at all possible.

For me personally, when I'm driving around or when I have time to think as I'm walking around alone, I always go through mental exercises about what I would do if I was attacked. For example, this last Thanksgiving I was in downtown Vancouver on a vacation by myself. I walked everywhere, so I had a lot of time to think. I spent most of that time thinking of how I would respond to various attacks. I thought about where I would strike, how many times, and with what (it was raining nonstop, so luckily I had a heavy umbrella the whole time). I thought about how I would deal with two or three attackers. I kept an eye on where public places were and where police stations and other safe havens were. I always had a plan, and that plan rarely included submission. But again, that's just me.

It reminds me of a story one of my instructors told us. He was working in the a major US city that, at the time, was the bank robbery capital of the world. A reporter asked him for an exclusive interview and he agreed. The report asked him, in his professional opinion, what would stop all these bank robberies. My instructor said, in that gruff and salty way of his, "You wanna know what'll stop these bank robberies? I'll tell you, then... All we need to do is kill a few more of them and word'll spread that if you rob a bank here, you're gonna die". He went on to tell us how after that, they bought some information about a bank robbery team planning one in the area. They set up an ambush and that entire clan was wiped out. And sure enough, robberies in the area dropped for awhile.

For me this says something: If it becomes dangerous to be a crook, they'll go somewhere else. What if half of all muggings in downtown Vancouver ended with a dead or paralyzed mugger? Do you suppose muggers would move on to less dangerous areas?

Just a thought...

Friday, April 08, 2005

Two tidbits from CrimProf Blog

First we have an interesting statistic:

From the DPIC: "According to a new report issued by Amnesty International, the United States is among four countries that carried out the vast majority of the 3,797 executions around the world in 2004. Amnesty's report states that the nations carrying out the most executioners last year were China (3,400), Iran (159), Vietnam (64), United States (59), Saudi Arabia (33), Pakistan (15), Kuwait (9), Bangladesh (7), Egypt (6), Singapore (6), and Yemen (6). The report notes that the increase in executions in China is partly due to a new way of estimating such executions since the government does not publicly release this data. The use of the death penalty declined in the U.S. in 2004 compared to 2003." To obtain the report, click here. [Mark Godsey]



I like how the headline of the Amnesty Int'l report says "the United States is among four countries that carried out the vast majority of the 3,797 executions around the world in 2004" when we were responsible for exactly .01% of them.

I also find it misleading to give data for Islamofascist countries like Iran because most of the countries don't execute their criminals with due process, they murder innocent people who have no due process. For the U.S. it tooks years of hard work to kill the 59 criminals that we did. I would love to see a report of how long it takes on average to get someone executed in the U.S. compared to other countries. I'd be willing to bet we take waaay longer than other countries.

And we also have a fascinating little story here...

A defendant was charged with felony murder after his accomplice in a burglary was killed by a victim fleeing in a car. [Jack Chin]

And if you click on that link, you get this explanation:

A West Palm Beach man was arrested on burglary and second-degree murder charges on Wednesday, more than two months after his alleged accomplice was run over and killed by the victim along Interstate 95.Christopher Dean, 25, drove the getaway car during the Jan. 12th break-in, allegedly committed with Eric Flint,
officials said.

Dean was trying to pick up Flint when Gregory Marlow, driving a Chevy Suburban, hit and killed Flint, officials said. Dean is being held responsible for Flint's death.

You have to admit, that's a creative reading of the law. I wonder if it will stick...

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Euphemisms solve nothing

New Euphemism:
Heard on local NPR station WAMU: "Most murders in DC are caused by 'loosely-knit neighborhood groups.'"

You mean, ummh, gangs?

As an avid and passionate linguophile, I cannot tolerate euphemistic language when it attempts to lessen the stigma of crime or bad behavior.
"Loosely knit neighborhood groups"? Why on Earth would NPR wish to make GANGMEMBERS look any better? What purpose does it serve? Euphemisms are useful when you want to put difficult information in a tactful way to someone you respect. I have to question why NPR wishes to garner the respect of gang members.
What other criminal euphemisms can we come up with?
Hypervelocitators = Speeders
Aggressively Unrequested Intercourse = Rape
Nonmedical Nonconsentual Devitalization = Murder
Politically-oriented decisive action groups = Terrorists
Unbalanced Landscaping Tool Enthusiast = Axe Murderer
Feel free to post your own. The winner of the best one will be awarded a career on a left-of-center radio show.





Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Say Hi to your big brother for me...

An article from the fine gentlemen at CrimProf Blog:

Public officials in Bellwood, IL, a village of 21,000 residents covering 3.5 square miles in Greater Chicago, have decided to join the growing list of cities using surveillance cameras to deter crime. Only Bellwood is taking their initiatives one step further. As reported in the Chicago Tribune, within two years, officials plan for Bellwood to be the first town in Illinois (and quite possibly the first in the entire country) "to have every public thoroughfare, sidewalk and alley under the watchful digitized eye of the Bellwood Police Department...[In response to criticism from the ACLU,] Bellwood's mayor said he welcomed the suggestion that his town might be considered something akin to a Big Brother-land. 'I wish we could create that image. I would love that,' Mayor Frank Pasquale said with a chuckle. Although village officials say their town is
not unsafe, and in fact crime has dropped in the last two years, they are aiming for a crime-free future. 'Let this be a warning to our criminals,' Pasquale said. 'Be aware. We have you covered. So go elsewhere.'

The cameras, which police will monitor at the department's call center and can access through laptops in their cars, are the latest technology. They're wireless and sound-activated. Any excessive noise prompts the cameras to tilt and point toward the sound, enabling the department to hone in on a crime even as it is happening. The images are beamed to the department and the laptops through highly encrypted Internet servers and can be downloaded to compact discs to be used as evidence. High-ranking department officials eventually will be able to access the cameras via hand-held PDAs.

In a demonstration Wednesday, a camera set on a lamppost in the Bellwood Police Department parking lot was able to zoom in on the license plate of a car parked about five blocks away. When a gun was fired into the air, the camera took less than one second to shift toward the sound and zoom in on the demonstrator. 'We can look for chain-link fences rattling, gunshots obviously, car alarms, burglar alarms,' said Steve Daugherty, president of Current Technologies, the Naperville-based company that built and will install the cameras for Bellwood. 'Any sound that's discernible, we can
find it, sense it and point a camera at it.'


I, for one, welcome our new camera overlords. Here's the deal with security versus privacy: the public streets belong to the public corporately. They aren't my streets or your streets, they are our streets. Because we have a collective claim, it is more important to focus on the safety of the public than on it's privacy. We all have individual privacy in our homes. If we want to do something private, we can do it within our home. Out in public, however, the need for safety and security is more important.

Personally, living in a Big Brother community would be right up my alley. I don't do weird or criminal things out in public, thus, I'm not ashamed to be watched by the local police. There's nothing I do that I need privacy for on a public street.

I wonder about how people who have never been victimized differ from those who have been victimized when it comes to privacy vs. security. Personally, I've never been the victim of anything other than ridicule, but I don't want to ever have to be one. Out in public, privacy is a luxury that we unfortunately cannot easily afford anymore. There are a lot of sick people out there looking to victimize the weak. The strong among us could perhaps afford a little more privacy in public, but we ought to be looking out for the week. Honestly, who needs privacy out on a public street? What good is it? What would you do with it? What's your compelling interest?

That having been said, if they wanted to install a camera in my bedroom, I would be rather upset about that.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Criminal Chemistry

A story out of Israel:

The Jerusalem Police yesterday uncovered a sophisticated system of smuggling drugs that served to bring cocaine into the country in recent months, investigators suspect. Using a chemical process and other materials, the members of the smuggling ring managed to turn the cocaine into elastic sheets that were then slotted into the sides of suitcases used by the drug couriers.

According to Chief Superintendent Hanoch Cohen of the Jerusalem Police, the members of the ring in Israel were to have detached the elastic sheets from the sides of the suitcases and put them through a second chemical process to turn them back into cocaine.The chemical process employed by the ring made it impossible for police to locate the drugs by means of existing technological tools, and the bust was facilitated by a sting operation involving two undercover police agents.


Well, well, well... if you build a better mousetrap, they'll build a better mouse.

If we can use the magic of science to turn cocaine into all manner of useful substances, why don't we invent a mist that ruins cocaine and just pump it into airplanes, bus terminals, subways, tunnels, and any other place that criminals tool around with drugs?

How 'bout it, science?

Monday, April 04, 2005

Sorry about the delay

BlogSpot decided to refuse to post my posts for the last four days or so. Great way to kill my momentum guys!

Anyways, here's the two days of back posts below. I think they are swell.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Sad tale of a fallen hero...

I watched a pretty horrific video in class yesterday. It was the video footage of the death of Lance Corporal Coates, a South Carolina Highway Patrolman. Coates was on a "routine" traffic stop for a driver who was later shown to be armed and dangerous. AT the time though, the driver seemed friendly and docile. It was only after Coates decided to pat down the driver that he pull out the small gun and fired at Coates. They wrestled for the gun as Coates drew his own .357 revolver. The driver was shot five times in center mass. Coates stood up and reached for his shoulder radio to call for help. The driver fired, the .22 caliber bullet going through Coates' arm and into his chest, severing an aorta. Coates died on the scene. The killer survived.

There were many officer safety lessons to be learned from the video. However, the video showed an interesting thing that happened after Coates was shot. Another patrolman received the call of an officer down and sped to the scene. Before he got there, two truckers who had seen the gunfight stopped to help the fallen officer, one of them brining their gun in case the driver still wanted to fight.

The other officer drives up and sees two men standing over Coates' body, one of them holding a gun. The officer flew out of the car and put down the truckers at gunpoint. It was a few minutes later before the true story came out about who had done the shooting. Luckily, the truckers weren't hurt. In the interview later, the arriving officer had said he was so consumed with rage that if they had moved wrong even an inch, he would have killed them. That's some scary stuff!

Beyond lessons of officer safety, it teaches us another lesson: Know what is going on. Things aren't always as they seem. Scenes can appear one way and be another. In the video, the arriving officer put himself in an unsafe position because while he was proning out the two truckers, the real killer was lying off to the side. If he had more ammo and wasn't bleeding from massive chest wounds, this could have been a double tragedy.

So stay safe out there and remember that there are no routine stops and things aren't always obvious.