A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘United Police States of America’ tag

The Minneapolis Police Department’s Useless Body Cameras

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The City of Minneapolis spent $4 million to equip its law enforcers with body cameras. You might think that Minneapolis invested that money to hold its officers accountable but you would be wrong:

The Minneapolis Police Department is not tracking whether all officers are routinely activating body cameras and has not fully staffed the office tasked with reviewing body camera footage, despite the City Council’s directing it to do so last fall.

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Deputy Chief Henry Halvorson told the council last week that such a comprehensive report would be too labor-intensive. Someone has to check several databases and watch the video to decide whether each officer followed department policy, he said. Instead, Halvorson said, the police will analyze 2 percent of officers’ body camera usage for each quarterly audit starting in the second quarter.

Mr. Halvorson’s excuse is pathetic. There is no need to manually watch all of the footage collected by an officer’s body camera to know whether or not they used it. The camera should create a record every time it is turned on or off. If the records shows that an officer didn’t turn their body camera on or turned it off during their shift, inquiries should be made. The technical solution is dead simple and requires almost no additional manual labor.

But body cameras aren’t about holding law enforcers accountable. If that were the case, Bob Kroll and his police union buddies would stopped their adoption. What body cameras are about is collecting evidence that a law enforcer can use against you in court. Since nobody is reprimanding officers for failing to keep their body camera on, they can turn it off while they’re executing an unarmed black man then turn it back on when they’re arresting somebody for possession of pot.

Minneapolis’ body camera program demonstrates once again that any solution offered by a government body will only benefit that body.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 22nd, 2018 at 10:00 am

Another Day, Another Cop Escaping Punishment

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A couple of years ago there was some controversy in Minneapolis when a police officer responding to a brawl opened fire on a car full of innocent people. Fortunately, nobody was killed but one cannot let an entirely reckless act like that go without some amount of punishment, right? Apparently you can if the reckless shooter is a cop:

After a gray sedan collided with his Minneapolis police SUV amid the downtown chaos, officer Efrem Hamilton figured it was the same car used in an earlier shooting and went into defense mode.

What he didn’t realize was that the carful of late-night partyers was trying to get away from the scene he was racing toward. The BMW’s 23-year-old driver testified in court that she never even saw the officer’s flashing lights.

But because Hamilton, 43, was reacting to a perceived threat in the moment, a Hennepin County jury on Tuesday cleared him of any wrongdoing for firing the single shot at the vehicle during the melee two years ago.

Imagine if a citizen without a badge had done the same thing. They almost certainly would have had a list of charges brought against them including a charge for unlawfully discharging a firearm within city limits.

According to the founding mythology of the United States, everybody is supposed to be equal under the law. However, agents of the government tend to be more equal than others. Laws that apply to us nongovernmental individuals often don’t apply to them. Spending a few moments pondering this state of affairs will probably lead one to the realization that this environment attracts the power hungry. If I want the hold power over others without suffering consequences, I will seek a position that grants me power over others and doesn’t hold me accountable.

People often ask how modern law enforcement got to the point its at. I’m not entirely sure but I think the lack of accountability has played a significant role since it likely attracted power hungry individuals. While the officer in question in the story may not have been a power hungry individual, the fact that he avoided punishment for something most nongovernmental individuals would be punished for sets another precedence for law enforcers being above the law.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 21st, 2018 at 11:00 am

Just More Heroes Doing Hero Things

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For the life of me I can’t figure out why our heroes in blue have such a dismal reputation:

BALTIMORE — The officers’ job during some of the bloodiest years in Baltimore was to get guns off the streets.

Instead, they plundered money, jewelry, drugs and weapons and gouged the cash-strapped city for overtime and hours they never worked, according to their own admissions and testimony in ongoing criminal cases.

Over the past four years, some members of the Gun Trace Task Force stole more than $300,000, at least three kilos of cocaine, 43 pounds of marijuana, 800 grams of heroin and hundreds of thousands of dollars in watches from suspected drug dealers and civilians, according to officers’ plea agreements and statements in federal court.

They admit to putting illegal trackers on the cars of suspected dealers so they could rob their homes and sell off any drugs and guns they found.

This sounds an awful lot like the Minneapolis Gang Strike Force. In both cases officers were assigned to specific duties and used their newfound positions of authority to rob people left and right. Moreover, it appears as though the Baltimore Gun Trace Task Force followed in the footsteps of the Minneapolis Gang Strike Force in that it committed so many crimes that they could no longer be effectively swept under the rug.

I’m sure Minneapolis and Baltimore aren’t unique. After all, what else could be expected of a group of officers given tremendous powers, in addition to the tremendous powers they already have, and almost no oversight? Such an environment is custom made for corrupt behavior.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 9th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Pretending to Do Something

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There is never a shortage of government busybodies when something has to be done and people have been demanding that something be done in response to the Las Vegas shooting. So the law enforcers in Mesa, Arizona have answered those demands by arresting and charing an individual show the shooter purchased ammunition from:

U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- Authorities have charged Douglas Haig, 55, of Mesa Arizona with selling “armor-piercing ammunition” to Las Vegas killer Stephen Paddock according to court documents acquired by the Associated Press. Haig works full time as an aerospace engineer and part-time as a manufacturer of reloaded ammunition.

This would be like arresting the head of Ford in response to somebody using an F-150 to run down a group of people. Haig made a product and sold it. After that he ceased to have control over it and therefore ceased to be responsible for it. But that doesn’t matter because the government wants to show the world that it’s doing something in response to the shooting.

The lack of Haig’s involvement with the crime doesn’t matter as illustrated by the charges against him. He’s not be charged with anything relating to the shooting. Instead he’s being charged with violating an unrelated regulation against manufacturing “armor piercing” ammunition (which, itself, is a nonsensical legal definition) without a license. Since none of the Las Vegas shooter’s victims were wearing body armor, the ability for the ammunition he used to penetrate body armor is irrelevant (and that’s not what the legal definition of “armor piecing” is even based on). But the arrest gives the law enforcers something to show the public and that’s all that matters.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 8th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Just Another Hero Doing Hero Things

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A Tennessee hero has made headlines for ordering a hero under his command to heroically execute an unarmed man:

A sheriff in rural Tennessee was inadvertently caught on police body cam footage ordering deputies to shoot an unarmed man engaged in a slow speed chase, NewsChannel 5/WTVF reported.

The body cam revealed Sheriff Oddie Shoupe’s conversation with a deputy after the fatal shooting of Michael Dial, who was struck in the head after refusing to pull over his 1976 pickup truck when officers attempted to pull him over for driving with a suspended license.

Of course this situation was tragic and the brave sheriff wishes it could have gone differently…

“If they don’t think I’ll give the d*mn order to kill that motherf*cker they’re full of sh*t,” Sheriff Shoupe added. “I love this sh*t. God I tell you what, I thrive on it.”

Or not.

I have my doubts that Sheriff Shoupe’s attitude is unique. I would actually bet money on the fact that a lot of people who share his attitude are drawn to law enforcement because it allows them to act on their urges without concerns for consequences. Granted, because this was actually caught on video the sheriff may end up having to step down. However, I doubt that he or the officer who was “just following orders” will face the criminal charges they so deserve.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 8th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Cellular Phones Aren’t the Only Way to Track People

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A lot of privacy advocates have a habit of developing tunnel vision. They’ll see an obvious privacy violation and fail to see dozens of others. For example, I know a lot of privacy advocates who have developed tunnel vision for cellular phones. Some of these individuals will even leave their cellular phone at home when traveling somewhere thinking that doing so will make invisible to surveillance. However, there is more than one way to track an individual’s movements. How many people who leave their cellular phones at home then immediately get into a uniquely identifiable vehicle?

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has officially gained agency-wide access to a nationwide license plate recognition database, according to a contract finalized earlier this month. The system gives the agency access to billions of license plate records and new powers of real-time location tracking, raising significant concerns from civil libertarians.

Every vehicle is legally required to have a uniquely identifiable license plate. Image recognition technology has advanced to the point where reading the unique identified on these plats is trivial. Now it’s trivial to create a vehicle tracking system with nothing more than strategically placed cameras that can talk to a central tracking system.

If you want to protect your privacy, you need to take public transportation, right? While this might seem like an obvious answer since public transportation mixes a lot of people together, most public transit systems include video surveillance and facial recognition is now at the point where uniquely identifying somebody’s face is pretty easy. Given enough surveillance cameras, it’s possible to track somebody walking in a city thanks to facial recognition technology.

Surveillance has always been a cat and mouse game. Right now the cat has some new tactics that give it an edge. In order to survive, the mouse must evolve too. The mouse won’t evolve if it succumbs to tunnel vision though.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 2nd, 2018 at 11:00 am

The Freest Country on Earth

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Where else besides the freest country on Earth can a sporting event turn an entire city into an open-ended military presence:

With Super Bowl festivities swinging into full gear, so have the massive security measures that have lent downtown Minneapolis a distinctly military ambience.

Police officers with bomb-sniffing dogs patrol skyways and downtown streets. Rifle-toting deputies in Army fatigues and helmets stand watch over Nicollet Mall, which has been swamped with visitors to the Super Bowl Live event. Video feeds from 2,000 cameras are monitored in a law-enforcement command center near U.S. Bank Stadium.

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In the time it took Lisa Cook to walk across the Hennepin Avenue Bridge to her job downtown, she had counted two “convoys” consisting of three “armored vehicles and a variety of marked and unmarked vans and trucks,” along with dozens of officers from departments around the metro, she said.

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There are unseen elements, too: snipers perched on rooftops and in buildings in strategic places around downtown and plainclothes officers blending into crowds. A reporter visiting Nicollet Mall on Monday was approached by a plainclothes officer identifying himself as “NFL security,” who asked why the reporter was taking photographs and asked to see his media credentials.

It’s rather fascinating to me that so many people living here in the United States still consider themselves among the freest people on Earth. While the Bill of Rights; with its guarantee of press freedoms, free speech, the right to bear arms, etc.; certainly looks impressive, it is little more than a fiction. All of the so-called rights describe in that document can be revoked by the government at its whim. Consider the reported mentioned in the above excerpt. What if he didn’t have press credentials? My guess would be that he would have been removed. I’m also fairly certain that your right to free speech is pretty limited in Minneapolis at the moment, especially around the building hosting official Super Bowl events. Your right to bear arms isn’t going to get past the military goon squads that have setup the various checkpoints.

I’m fond of saying that your rights end where a politician’s perception of safety begins. An addendum to that is that your rights also end when a multibillion dollar organization decides to host an event in your area.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 31st, 2018 at 10:00 am

Getting Away with Murder

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Yesterday Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced that Officer Noor will be getting away with murder:

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman has convened a grand jury to compel testimony and gather evidence in the July 2017 officer involved shooting death of Justine Damond.

For those wondering why I’m so sure Officer Noor won’t be charged it’s because grand juries have an extremely strong tendency to side with officers and that’s because grand juries are designed to intimidate jurors into siding with officers. Grand juries are usually just officious rituals tacked onto the act of dismissing charges against an officer.

Another point of interest in this decision is that it goes against one of Freeman’s previously made promise:

In recent years, Freeman has said he would no longer use grand juries to decide whether officers would be charged in police shootings, saying he would make those decisions himself to provide more accountability and transparency.

I understand that Freeman is caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand he’s an employee of Hennepin County. As a government employee he has a conflict of interest. Officer Noor, like himself, is also a government employee and government employees are supposed to have each other’s backs. But if Freeman just declared Noor innocent there would likely be civil unrest. By reneging on his promise he can effectively let Noor off while claiming he did the best that he could but the decision was in the hands of a grand jury.

Welcome to the United States of America, the freest country on Earth… if you have a badge.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 25th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Prosecutors are Scum

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If one mindlessly accepts the bullshit fed to them by public schools and other government propaganda departments, they believe that governments exist to protect the people by ensuring justice is served. After even a minor amount of analysis though one is left realizing that the purpose of government is to rob wealth from the masses. A good example of this is how government approaches justice.

For justice to be served there must first be a crime. A crime necessarily involves a victim. The government gets around this by espousing a nonsense belief that society, a concept that exists solely in our imaginations, can be a victim. It uses this belief to charge people with victimless crimes such as being in possession of a plant or firearm that has been arbitrarily declared verboten. Another factor that must exist for justice to be served is that only a person guilty of a crime is punished for it. Prosectors, however, are primarily concerned with conviction rates, not justice:

Prosecutors are supposed to disclose any information they uncover that might help the defense. But enforcing that obligation — and punishing those who ignore it — has been no easy task. After Mr. Thompson was freed, he won a $14 million judgment, only to have the Supreme Court reverse the award in 2011, ruling that prosecutors can be held financially liable only if they are shown to have a pattern of unethical behavior. He received nothing.

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This time, lawyers for Mr. Jones and experts at the Innocence Project have pored over court records to compile evidence of a pattern.

“This was a galling disregard for the constitutional rights of defendants,” said Michael L. Banks, a lawyer with the Philadelphia firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. “From the top of this office, there was a culture of winning. And winning meant getting convictions. And that’s why there’s such a striking pattern of wrongful convictions.”

Once again we see the redundancies built into the government to protect its power. Withholding evidence from the defense is supposed to be a crime itself but the Supreme Court ruled that it’s only a crime if there is a pattern of such behavior. What constitutes a pattern? Who knows. But it ensures that yet another barrier exists between corrupt prosecutors (a redundant term) and their victims so business can continue as usual. And that’s the way government works.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 25th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Just Another Day Ending in “Y”

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It’s another day ending in “y,” which can only mean that another dog has been executed by a law enforcer. But this incident contains an added bonus. Not only was a dog injured but so was a 9-year-old kid who was in the room:

On the evening of Dec. 30, Danielle Maples was making nail polishes with her children. The atmosphere in her home changed when her husband threatened to hurt himself. Maples called 911 to get help.

Then after police arrived – as she and her husband stood outside their home unarmed – she heard two gunshots from inside.

A Wichita police officer fired at her dog – in a small living room occupied by her four children, ages 6 to 10.

Suddenly, the already stressful evening turned into a nightmare.

When the officer shot at the family dog in the same room where her four children were gathered, a bullet fragmented and ricocheted off the concrete floor beneath the carpet where her 9-year-old daughter sat. The girl suffered wounds above her eye. At the hospital, Maples saw a bag with three fragments taken from her daughter’s forehead.

Bullet ballistics are the closest thing to magic that this universe offers. It’s hard to predict all of the ways that discharging a bullet in an uncontrolled environment can go wrong. In this case an officer was trying to perform a routine dog execution that resulted in a child being hit. And what response did the family receive?

An officer later told the family that “it could have been worse,” she said.

I’m not sure if that was meant to be a thinly veiled threat or just the typical hand waving towards violence individuals detached from anything most would recognize as a conscience exhibit. Either way, this story isn’t an isolated incident. Officers perform executions on dogs so frequently that there is now a database of collected reports.

What compounds this incident is that the officer wasn’t even responding to a violent situation. A family member was suffering from a mental crisis. There is no reason that the officer should have been so tooled up. But this incident does serve to illustrate an important lesson. Never call 911 if somebody is suffering a mental crisis. If you do, law enforcers will likely be dispatched and when they show up they may decide to “help” by shooting somebody (maybe even the person suffering the mental crisis).

Written by Christopher Burg

January 19th, 2018 at 10:00 am