Posts tagged: police
From a 2009 post on the lockpick/encryption/RF site Blackbag:
German SSDeV member Ray is known all around the world for his impressive collection of handcuffs and his fun ways of opening most of them. On top of that he gives great presentations and always manages to add a lot of humor into them!
At HAR he pulled another stunt: He used a 3D printer to print handcuff keys. And not just any ordinary handcuff key … no, it’s the official handcuff key from the Dutch police!
Full Story: Blackbag: Printing police handcuff keys
What’s more, Ray released an STL file (the standard format for 3D printing and prototyping) of the key.
Ray ended up clarifying various points in the comments on Bruce Schneier’s blog.
(via Cat Vincent)
By his own admission, Daniel Chong planned to spend April 20 like so many other college students: smoking marijuana with friends to celebrate an unofficial holiday devoted to the drug.
But for Mr. Chong, the celebration ended in a Kafkaesque nightmare inside a San Diego Drug Enforcement Administration holding cell, where he said he was forgotten for four days, without food or water.
To survive, Mr. Chong said he drank his own urine, hallucinated and, at one point, considered how to take his own life. By the time agents found him on the fifth day and called paramedics, he said he thought he could be dead within five minutes. […]
A spokeswoman for the D.E.A. said the case was under investigation, but confirmed that Mr. Chong had been “accidentally left in one of the cells” from April 21 until April 25, and that he had not been charged with a crime.
For the last two years, ProPublica and PBS “Frontline,” in concert with other news organizations, have looked in-depth at death investigation in America, finding a pervasive lack of national standards that begins in the autopsy room and ends in court.
Expert witnesses routinely sway trial verdicts with testimony about fingerprints, ballistics, hair and fiber analysis and more, but there are no national standards to measure their competency or ensure that what they say is valid. A landmark 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences called this lack of standards one of the most pressing problems facing the criminal justice system.
Over the last two decades, ACFEI has emerged as one of the largest forensic credentialing organizations in the country.
Among its members are top names in science and law, from Henry Lee, the renowned criminalist, to John Douglas, the former FBI profiler and bestselling author. Dr. Cyril Wecht, a prominent forensic pathologist and frequent TV commentator on high-profile crimes, chairs the group’s executive advisory board.
But ACFEI also has given its stamp of approval to far less celebrated characters. It welcomed Seymour Schlager, whose credentials were mailed to the prison where he was incarcerated for attempted murder. Zoe D. Katz – the name of a house cat enrolled by her owner in 2002 to show how easy it was to become certified by ACFEI — was issued credentials, too. More recently, Dr. Steven Hayne, a Mississippi pathologist whose testimony helped to convict two innocent men of murder, has used his ACFEI credential to bolster his status as an expert witness.
Remember as you read this that people are being put to death, or put in prison for decades, because of the testimony of forensic experts.
This post rounds up a lot of past coverage of Hayne and the situation in Mississippi.
Combine bad forensics with the psychology of false confessions and what do you get? A recipe for sending innocent people to prison.
Long piece from Foreign Policy about the FBI’s attempted infiltration of the “Patriot Movement” during the 90s:
Despite the fact that PATCON was set up as an intelligence-gathering operation, no evidence has emerged to date that information from the operation came into play during the bombing investigation, despite the links between some of McVeigh’s contacts and the organizations targeted.
The dilemmas of PATCON point toward current debates over the use of infiltration, particularly in cases such as the NYPD’s monitoring of Muslim communities in New York, investigations predicated on the need to collect intelligence rather than build prosecutions on specific criminal activities. The value of the intelligence collected by PATCON is unclear in the final analysis. The only PATCON targets ever prosecuted were already under investigation by the Army, and none of the specific terrorist plots alleged in the FBI’s records ever came to fruition. Meanwhile, the perpetrator of the worst act of right-wing violence in U.S. history was in contact with several targets of the FBI’s investigation but apparently flew under the radar.
(via Innovation Patterns)
The New Yorks Times ran a story on the psychology of false confessions. Here’s an excerpt, but the whole thing is worth reading:
If you have never been tortured, or locked up and verbally threatened, you may find it hard to believe that anyone would confess to something he had not done. Intuition holds that the innocent do not make false confessions. What on earth could be the motive? To stop the abuse? To curry favor with the interrogator? To follow some fragile thread of imaginary hope that cooperation will bring freedom?
Yes, all of the above. Psychological studies of confessions that have proved false show an overrepresentation of children, the mentally ill and mentally retarded, and suspects who are drunk or high. They are susceptible to suggestion, eager to please authority figures, disconnected from reality or unable to defer gratification. Children often think, as Felix did, that they will be jailed if they keep up their denials and will get to go home if they go along with interrogators. Mature adults of normal intelligence have also confessed falsely after being manipulated. […]
In experiments and in interrogation rooms, adults who are told convincing fictions have become susceptible to memories of things that never happened. Rejecting their own recollections through what psychologists call “memory distrust syndrome,” they are tricked by phony evidence into accepting their own fabrications of guilt — an “internalized false confession.”
That is what happened to a shaken Martin Tankleff, and although he quickly recanted, as if coming out of a spell, he was convicted and drew 50 years to life. He spent 17 years in prison before winning an appeal based on new evidence that pointed to three ex-convicts. But they have never been tried. Whoever killed the Tankleffs remains at large.
(via Social Physicist)
I wonder if this remains true even if the test subject is just carrying a gun, but not holding it in their hands (ie, if it applies to cops with holstered guns):
The researchers varied the situation in each experiment – such as the having the people in the images sometimes wear ski masks, changing the race of the person in the image or changing the reaction subjects were to have when they perceived the person in the image to hold a gun. Regardless of the situation the observers found themselves in, the study showed that responding with a gun biased observers to report “gun present” more than did responding with a ball. Thus, by virtue of affording the subject the opportunity to use a gun, he or she was more likely to classify objects in a scene as a gun and, as a result, to engage in threat-induced behavior, such as raising a firearm to shoot.
I’ve seen some skeptical comments questioning whether firearm training would reduce this effect. But Scientific American reports in its coverage of this study that 1/4 of all police shooting involve unarmed suspects. Police receive more than a little (though some argue not enough) firearm training.
The AP also covered the story and notes: “Past research suggests that people can be more likely to perceive a poorly seen object as a gun if it’s held by a black person than by a white person, experts say.”
See also: Priming.
Last year in three high schools in Florida, several undercover police officers posed as students. The undercover cops went to classes, became Facebook friends and flirted with the other students. One 18-year-old honor student named Justin fell in love with an attractive 25-year-old undercover cop after spending weeks sharing stories about their lives, texting and flirting with each other.
One day she asked Justin if he smoked pot. Even though he didn’t smoke marijuana, the love-struck teen promised to help find some for her. Every couple of days she would text him asking if he had the marijuana. Finally, Justin was able to get it to her. She tried to give him $25 for the marijuana and he said he didn’t want the money — he got it for her as a present.
A short while later, the police did a big sweep and arrest 31 students — including Justin. Almost all were charged with selling a small amount of marijuana to the undercover cops. Now Justin has a felony hanging over his head.
Not mentioned in the article is that not only does Justin have a felony hanging over his head, if he’s found guilty of a drug related crime he won’t be eligible for federally subsidized financial aid. So he’ll come out of prison at a remarkably young age with fewer job prospects, thanks to a felony record, and have a hard (perhaps impossible) time going to college or trade school to actually get any sort of degree or skills to help him get a job, increasing the chances that he’ll turn to a life of crime. The system if effectively turning otherwise bright kids into lifelong criminals.
(via Boing Boing)
Over $7.2 million in drugs and 161 weapons were confiscated after a year long investigation by the Washington D.C. Police and the Bureau the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which operated as fictional rap label.
According to the Washington Post, D.C. police and ATF agents acted as undercover officers and “music industry insiders” during the year-long sting.
The police created the “Manic Enterprisess” studio in Northeast Washington, for fictional rap artist Richie Valdez in November of 2010.
Agents then told the underground world and black market that they were seeking to purchase weapons and drugs.
Over the course of the year, agents confiscated 161 firearms (including a rocket launcher), 29 assault weapons, 80 pounds of methamphetamine, 21 pounds of cocaine, 1.25 gallons of PCP, 24 pounds of marijuana, heroin and Ecstasy.
(via Hump Jones)
I originally posted this as an update to my earlier post, but I think it’s worth its own post:
I’d been avoiding posting anything about speculation that the Department of Homeland Security had anything to do with coordinating the police raids on occupy until there was some real evidence. I thought Wolf had some new sources but, as Kenneth Huey points out in the comments, it turns out Wolf’s sources rely on that same old anonymously sourced Examiner story. But there is currently no evidence that Congress or the White House ordered or coordinated the raids, and the White House has specifically denied this. If anyone knows of any particular mayor or police chief denying DHS involvement, please let me know.
There are many other problems with Wolf’s account of the story, as detailed here. That The Guardian is still running this story from Wolf without any updates or corrections is disappointing.
It’s worth noting that another source of national coordination regarding the Occupy movement has emerged. Wes Unruh pointed me towards this story in the San Francisco Bay Guardian which reveals that the international non-governmental organization The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) coordinated raids nationally. Police chiefs in several major cities participated in a series of conference calls distinct from the 18 mayor call mentioned by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. PERF has also been involved in coordinating crackdowns on anti-globalization protests. The executive director of PERF, Chuck Wexler, is also on the advisory council of DHS, leading some to refer to the organization as “having ties to” DHS (including the San Francisco Bay Guardian), but I wouldn’t (yet) read too much into this relationship.
It might also be worth mentioning that according to Tom Henderson DHS vehicles were spotted at the Occupy Portland eviction, but as Tom notes the Occupy Portland spilled into federal park, so we can’t read too much into that.
One final note on the potential federal involvement in the Occupy crackdown. I’ve noticed that Portland Mayor Sam Adams almost always mentions drug use in the camp when explaining why he flip-flopped from supporting Occupy Portland to ordering its eviction. Since 1981 there has been an ongoing erosion of military and civilian law enforcement, particularly with regards to drug law enforcement. Here’s an excerpt from Diane Cecilia Weber’s paper Warrior Cops: The Ominous Growth of Paramilitarism in American Police Departments:
In 1981 Congress passed the Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Officials Act. That law amended the Posse Comitatus Act insofar as it authorized the military to “assist” civilian police in the enforcement of drug laws. The act encouraged the military to (a) make available equipment, military bases, and research facilities to federal, state, and local police; (b) train and advise civilian police on the use of the equipment; and (c) assist law enforcement personnel in keeping drugs from entering the country. The act also authorized the military to share information acquired during military operations with civilian law enforcement agencies.
The overlap between civilian and military law enforcement was furthered in 1986 when President Reagan issued a National Security Decision Directive declaring illegal drugs a threat to national security. You can find more on this in Radley Balko’s book/white paper Overkill.
The possibility of federal involvement remains speculative, but returning to the line about drugs again and again could be a tactic to justify the invovlement of the feds, at least at the level of funding.
With regard to psychopaths, “We think the ‘uhs’ and ‘ums’ are about putting the mask of sanity on,” Hancock told LiveScience.
Psychopaths appear to view the world and others instrumentally, as theirs for the taking, the team, which also included Stephen Porter from the University of British Columbia, wrote.
As they expected, the psychopaths’ language contained more words known as subordinating conjunctions. These words, including “because” and “so that,” are associated with cause-and-effect statements.
“This pattern suggested that psychopaths were more likely to view the crime as the logical outcome of a plan (something that ‘had’ to be done to achieve a goal),” the authors write.
And finally, while most of us respond to higher-level needs, such as family, religion or spirituality, and self-esteem, psychopaths remain occupied with those needs associated with a more basic existence.
Bruce Schneier writes: “I worry about people being judged by these criteria. Psychopaths make up about 1% of the population, so even a small false-positive rate can be a significant problem.”