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Posts Tagged ‘Leo’

DRONE-GUYKnown as “remotely piloted aircraft” or “RPAs” in military parlance, drones may well have a coming out party at this years 75th Sturgis rally.

Ellsworth Air Force Base is located approximately 10 miles northeast of Rapid City, South Dakota and about 30 miles from Sturgis. The 432nd Attack Squadron has 195 personnel dedicated to piloting drones to conduct surveillance.  It’s primarily focused on flying in foreign countries, but there are many different drones in the Air Force’s inventory and the question about use as a law enforcement tool during the Sturgis motorcycle rally was recently floated.

Drone_cover_imageI’m talking about something less threatening than the MQ-9 Reaper in the Sturgis sky, but something that will include live-feed video cameras, heat sensors and radar.

Advocates claim they can be used to quickly respond and solve medical problems, help untangle vandalism incidents, protect the hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash that transact each night with vendors, catch illegal behavior, and provide documentation for law enforcement.

Is 2015 the year of aerial drone surveillance during the Sturgis Rally?

20130515_drone2_33Well consider the fact that Arial land survey by drone is already in process in South Dakota.  The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is training students to use drones for rescue and hostage situations and South Dakota currently has no Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Legislation preventing the skies from being used for drone flight.

And then if you look just across the state border to North Dakota, a family was arrested with the assistance of a Predator drone.  Rodney Brossart was sentenced to three years in prison, of which all but six months was suspended, for a June 2011 incident in which police attempted to arrest him over his failure to return three cows from a neighboring farm that had strayed on to his property.  Mr. Brossart’s sons were located by a border-surveillance Predator borrowed from Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), which enabled local police to safely apprehend them, according to local newspapers or as reported by the LA Times.

Still skeptical?  Here are some additional drone facts:

  • Between 2005 and 2012, the amount in contracts the federal government awarded for drones: at least $12 billion.
  • Number of companies that are now in the drone business: more than 1,000.
  • Number of private-sector and government requests to fly drones that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved since 2007: 1,428.
  • Number of police departments that have asked the FAA for permits to fly drones: 12.
  • Number of commercial drones that the FAA predicts will be flying in domestic airspace by 2017: 10,000.
  • Price of a drone-proof hoodie being sold by the British company Stealth Wear, which also offers drone-proof scarves and burqas: $481

The question of whether aerial surveillance requires a warrant is ambiguous, with some court rulings ­including a 1986 Supreme Court decision ­allowing warrantless surveillance, while other rulings have found it to be unconstitutional.

Unmanned-aircraft-Coming-to-a-sky-near-youThere was a time when aerial surveillance was so expensive that privacy was a minor issue. But now drones are relatively cheap and can be equipped with sophisticated sensors, so they can vacuum up large amounts of camera imagery and other data, in the same way that advances in computers and communications enable the NSA to collect huge amounts of data from telephones and the Internet.

Law enforcement will clearly advocate that drones support most all of the “unobjectionable” police raids.  However, how long will it be before networks of linked drones and computers “gain the ability to automatically track multiple motorcycles and bodies as they move around a city,” much as the cell phone network hands calls from one tower to the next. The authorities would then combine drone video and cell phone tracking to build up databases of people’s routine comings and goings—databases they can then mine for suspicious behavior.

drones-shropshire-gettyv2And here I thought states using federal highway safety grants to fund discriminatory Motorcycle-only checkpoints was government over reach.

Most people who ride and stay in Sturgis know they are being financially exploited and that today’s “hard-core” Sturgis rider is grayer, and is much better behaved.  None of this is new.  What is new, is the potential use of drone surveillance which is teetering on a privacy razor’s edge.

Note: Oregon’s HB 2710 defines a drone as an unmanned flying machine, not including model aircraft. The law allows a law enforcement agency to operate a drone if it has a warrant and for enumerated exceptions including for training purposes. It also requires that a drone operated by a public body be registered with the Oregon Department of Aviation (DOA), which shall keep a registry of drones operated by public bodies. The law grants the DOA rulemaking authority to implement these provisions. It also creates new crimes and civil penalties for mounting weapons on drones and interfering with or gaining unauthorized access to public drones. Under certain conditions a landowner can bring an action against someone flying a drone lower than 400 feet over their property.  In addition, Oregon was chosen as one of six UAS test sites by the FAA.   More UAS information HERE.

Photos courtesy of internet.

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IMG_4034Is it me?  Is it you?

I didn’t wear a hoodie for Trayvon. I didn’t march to Save Our Girls or Kony.  I didn’t do the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” march for Mike Brown in Ferguson.  I didn’t do the “Can’t Breath” march for Eric Garner in NYC.

You won’t see me out there. Nope.

While I can’t deny that I’m Caucasian, I can say that as a motorcycle enthusiast I’ve experienced law enforcement arrogance that allows an armed “professional” to be less responsible of my rights than a typical citizen.  And I’ll acknowledge up front that I can’t represent or fully appreciate any of the issues through a racial lens or what African-American people feel.

It’s not that I don’t believe in any of these causes.  I’m not in denial that there are aggressive LEO’s out there who push the limits with their actions.  Just this week an Oregon State Police detective was prosecuted for destroying evidence and lying about it.  And a Clackamas County Sheriff was fired for mishandling and then lying about evidence, forcing the dismissal of 10 cases!  Clearly an affront to all Americans.

It’s just that I’m not convinced marching in 2014 is really going to make a difference.  But, let’s back up for minute before I explain why.

About four years ago I attended a day-long training session at the Oregon Public Safety Academy (DPSST) on law enforcement using deadly force in making arrests. You can read about it HERE.  I was in “Tactical Village” – a sprawling complex with faux buildings, roadways, cars, buses and the typical neighborhood debris you’d find in any urban environment.  We had Glock’s that fired paint-pellet bullets and went through various training scenarios to simulate real-world incidents.  I spent several hours responding to chaotic, dangerous or unpredictable situations in an effort to serve others or as they say… “walk in a LEO’s shoes.”  Suffice to say that my lack of split-second decisions got me killed repeatedly and made me realize how we all should talk about citizen retraining, so critics will at least wait until they have all the facts of a case before calling in the high-profile, paid-to-incite activists.

So, why do I sit behind my computer and criticize some of the marching or protest efforts?  This isn’t 1960 when the act of sitting in a restaurant sparked a nationwide movement that changed some things. It’s 2014 and we live in a “right now for the moment” world or I prefer to call it a bandwagon, hashtag advocacy society.  People create protest hashtag campaigns faster than a drive-thru burger joint.  Then along comes the funky complementary graphics they believe it provides everyone a sense of solidarity.  If its trending, we’re hashtagging it. Get your hashtag t-shirt or beanie now!

But, once the thrill is gone, so are we.

Think I’m trippin?  What happened to the girls everyone wanted to save a few months back? Where are they now? How many of those hoodies everyone posed in put Zimmerman in jail or helped to pay for legal fees for Trayvon’s family?  Where have all the occupy chanters gone?  What’s changed in 3- years?  So, how are these new protests around the country stopping cops from killing or from spraying mace in the faces of the marching kids today or tomorrow?  If you can answer that then I may reconsider my position.

People lose interest when they realize the issue is more complicated than a hashtag.  They can’t sit still long enough to ensure change before racing off to the next hashtag driven controversy.

I’m disgusted by much of what I’ve seen – on both sides.  We have constitutional rights to a legal system that treats all equally and fairly.

But, the real work happens when there’s no marching, or when there’s no protesting.  Do we really need high-profile, paid-to-incite activists flying in on carbon-spewing private jets to rally the disenfranchised?  The real work happens at the polls during the primaries or a non-presidential election. The real work happens as members of your community-based organizations, at your local city council town hall and in our churches. The real work is not on social media and a race to the next crowd gathering. Social media is great for promoting a message, but not change itself.  Where is the solidarity to do the real and very difficult work?!

Marching for a few hours or a couple weeks is not going to change anything.

Photo taken by author.

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Automatic License Plate Reader Technology

Automatic License Plate Reader Technology

Earlier today I received a notice from the Portland Police Bureau about their new patrol cars and the Police technology that will be on display for the general public.  It’s a “show-and-tell” exercise for the media.

The demonstration includes the latest in Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) technology.

Yeah, those quiet mass tracking devices that log license plates and perform driver surveillance!  Cruiser-mounted cameras can scan about 700 license plates an hour.  We’re starting to get a clear picture of the technology deployed for mass routine location tracking and surveillance.

Automatic license plate readers are the most widespread location tracking technology available to law enforcement. Mounted on patrol cars or stationary objects like bridges, they snap photos of every passing car, and motorcycle recording their plate numbers, times, and locations.

At first the captured plate data was used just to check against lists of motorcycles or cars law enforcement hoped to locate for various reasons (to act on arrest warrants, find stolen vehicles, etc.). Increasingly, however, all of this data is being fed into massive databases that contain the location information of many millions of innocent Americans stretching back for months or even years.  In addition, private companies are also using license plate readers and sharing the information they collect with police with little or no oversight or privacy protections.

I’m okay with law enforcement’s use of these systems to take pictures of plates to identify people who are driving stolen cars or are subject to an arrest warrant.  The technology makes it possible to check plates against “hot lists” of vehicles that are of interest to law enforcement. This can be done almost instantaneously and if the plates generate a “hit” I can understand the need to store the data for investigative purposes.

But, how long should the plate data be retained?

Automatic license plate readers have the potential to create permanent records of virtually everywhere any of us has driven.  It could radically transform the consequences of leaving home to pursue private life, and opening up many opportunities for abuse.

In Portland, Or., the data retention rules are a minimum of 30 days to a maximum of 4-years.  More information is HERE.  Like many, I don’t like this growing trend where the government is increasingly using new technology to collect information about American citizens, all the time, and is storing it forever — providing a complete record of citizens’ lives for the government to access at will.

Should you care?   Yes.  In New York City, for instance, police officers have reportedly driven unmarked vehicles equipped with license plate readers around local mosques in order to record each attendee.

What if entire motorcycle clubs/communities are targeted based on their associational makeup?

It’s a core principle that in the United States of America, the government does not invade its citizens’ privacy and store information about their innocent activities just in case they do something wrong.

Photo courtesy of firstcoastnews.com

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Digging Through Saddlebags

Digging Through Saddlebags

Yeah, it may well happen if you come across a motorcycle-only checkpoint.

I’ve written previously about how motorcycle safety outweighs individual liberty as state and local governments have begun to implement motorcycle-only checkpoints that unfairly target motorcyclists for inspection by law enforcement officers.

Specifically it’s called the “Motorcycle Law Enforcement Demonstration Grant” (DTNH22-10-R-00386) and the motorcycle-only checkpoints are funded by grants given out by the federal government, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  That’s correct.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is offering federal funds to expand the practice of creating motorcycle-only checkpoints by law enforcement agencies.

Initially started in New York State, the process involves setting-up checkpoints where only motorcycles are pulled over. Law enforcement officers will check for U.S. DOT-compliant helmets, legal exhaust systems, and compliance with licensing, registration and inspection regulations.  And they may decide to dig through your saddlebags!

What can you do?

Petition-PhotoSign this petition which calls for the cessation of the NHTSA’s direct and indirect funding of the motorcycle-only checkpoints through its grants and other measures, and asks that the laws for vehicle conformity and passenger safety be applied equally to motorcycles and automobiles alike.

Why This Petition Site?  The White House’s “We the People” website is the only one that sends a message directly to the president.  Once 25,000 signatures are reach, the petition is put in front of President Barack Obama, where he has to officially respond to the petition, which could include directing the NHTSA from funding motorcycle-only checkpoints.

I Live In A State With-Out Motorcycle-Only Check Points, Why Should I Bother To Sign?  Because there are a large number of motorcyclists in the U.S., yet overall our passion is shared by only a small portion of the population. This makes it relatively easy for laws, and those who enforce those laws, to target motorcyclists unfairly.  The motorcycling community needs to come together, regardless of how this one issue affects you, in order to ensure that the basic rights of motorcyclists everywhere are assured.

This Won’t Change Anything, So I’m Not Going To Waste My Time.  You might be right, but putting the issue in front of The President of the U.S. might do something, and if nothing else, it shows that the motorcycle-riding community is an active participant in what occurs in Washington D.C. and in the local legislatures. Doing nothing truly means that nothing will change.

Crap, I Have To Register To Sign This.  Are You Kidding Me?  The White House’s “We the People” website is the only site that sends a message directly to the president, and if there are enough signatures, the president has to formally respond to the petition.

I Don’t Want The Government To Have My Email Address.  Ahh… right, like they don’t already know where you live…

Please take the time and consider signing the petition.

Photos courtesy of Baggers Magazine and The White House “We The People” website.

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e-citationWe’ve all been there.

The riding posse jostles out of a parking lot or a fuel stop and spills out onto the freeway.  The front of the pack has merged onto the freeway as everyone behind must speed up so, we twist open the throttle and try and catch the front of the pack.  Everyone is doing the same thing.  Some cars are smart enough to let us have our way and some are not.  Then you glance down at the speed-o-meter just long enough to see it somewhere north of 70 mph and as the eyes return up to the front you glimpse a red/blue flashing light in the mirror.

Speaking of traffic enforcement…  in the state of Oregon, twenty-four hours a day, the Oregon State Police (OSP) issue traffic citations.  In fact, OSP issues a citation approximately every 2.6 minutes as they hand write more than 200,000 citations annually.  And after a copy is given to the person stopped by the trooper, copies are hand-delivered to the local court and another copy to the respective OSP field office.  It doesn’t stop there as transcriptions of a single citation will occur at the field office into the OSP Records Management System and again at the circuit or justice court.

Clearly all this “processing” leads to a considerable number of resources being dedicated to capturing information on the citations for the respective court system along with a certain percentage of transcription errors.

Enter the OSP Mobility + E-Ticketing Program.  A program which developed an electronic citation process to more efficiently move a citation from the law enforcement officer’s hand to circuit and justice courts all across the state.

Aren’t we lucky to have such visionaries cheerfully remove our wait burdens during the ticket processing?

OSP-EticketThe program started back in January 2011 when the OSP began exploring alternatives as part of a series of technology-based projects to transform how OSP troopers work and how the Department conducts daily business. The Mobility + E-Ticketing Program was successfully rolled out earlier this year as 39 circuit courts began moving from the delivery of handwritten citations to electronically receiving citations in “twitter speed” from the scene of the traffic stop.

It’s all about improving efficiency and automating the tedious act of an officer issuing a traffic citation.  OSP consulted with the Oregon Justice Department (OJD) and the Chief Justice of Oregon to ensure legal compatibility with all state statutes. And, multiple agencies and vendors worked collaboratively to deliver a fully integrated solution that automated OSP systems and helped the courts. By developing an electronic citation process that could be used by all law enforcement agencies across Oregon just think of the utilization metrics and nifty cost saving stats.  With a “we look forward to seeing you frequently” mind-set, E-Ticketing also helped implement the OJD Courts ePay process, allowing offenders to pay citations on-line within 24 hours instead of being involved in a process that could take more than 3 weeks to resolve.

The OSP Mobility +E-Ticketing Program cost approximately $2.5 million including hardware, software, equipment, installations, and other related costs.  The state used a federal grant to upgrade technology and installation of in-patrol-car computer systems. The mobile computers give troopers immediate data sharing capabilities with other law enforcement agencies while they are involved in a stop.

So, the next time you twist the throttle, know that the nice folks at the OSP, OJD and Trial Court collaborated to deliver you a citation efficiently with the intent of helping you move along to your destination as quickly as possible – of course within the legal posted speed limits!

Photo courtesy of OSP.

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That would be the 30th Laughlin River Run.

The earliest inhabitants of this Colorado River Valley town were the Mojave people, but this past weekend the valley was full of Harley-Davidson riders with all the necessities (read $$ in wallets) to create a prosperous event.

With 2012 marking the 30th anniversary of the River Run there was plenty of denim and leather on display and Casino Drive even had a fresh layer of asphalt and stripping!  And not one, but two law firms specializing in motorcycle accident cases attended the event with vendor booths.

The official stats have not been released yet, but early indicators from the Laughlin Tourism Board indicate that there was a 40% jump in attendance at the annual motorcycle event and was expected to give the town a $40M boost to the local economy.  In fact, the River Run is the city’s single biggest revenue-generating event and accounts for approximately 10% of the revenue for many hotels, bars and restaurants.

Yep, law enforcement was out in force during the event and at times seemed to outnumber the motorcycle enthusiasts.  There was a stepped up “no colors” policy which was highly visible through-out the valley on electronic reader boards and on signage at the casinos.

I was a day-tripper this year and the weather couldn’t have been better with temperatures in the mid-80’s.  Besides communing with other bikers our group attended the annual “pimpin shrimp” and “pig-from-a-pit” BBQ in Needles where Dave and Manny impressed everyone with their cooking skills.

It was good people, cold refreshments and lots of fun!

Photos take by author.

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Motorcycle enthusiasts in any given year will lobby and go to the mat on legislation issues that affect their hobby in the Northwest.

In Washington state one such bill was SB 5242  —  known as the biker profiling bill – it recently passed into law.   The bill prohibits singling out bikers for police stops without a legitimate reason. Motorcycle profiling is defined as when law enforcement officers single out people who ride motorcycles or wear biker “clothing,” stopping, questioning, searching or arresting them without legal grounds.

Motorcycle clubs who feel they have been singled out over the years see this as a major victory.  However, it’s a win for all motorcyclists in a way that the media isn’t really talking much about. Let me explain.

You might recall that I blogged about the NHTSA who recently made funds available to state, county and local law enforcement agencies to run “motorcycle only” checkpoints. The funds were recently applied for and granted in Florida, and as you can imagine during Daytona Bike Week there was a motorcycle only checkpoint in operation and the bikers-as well as the AMA- went ballistic.

Under the new Washington State law this supposedly cannot happen. Washington State Police (WSP) has stated that although they would not have applied for the funds regardless, that would not have stopped sheriffs and city law enforcement from applying. However, under the new bill they cannot … until someone decides to run county or city legislation to override the state law…

UPDATE: May 16, 2011 – Interesting and well articulated alternative viewpoint from Brian O’Neill (LEO) on how SB 5242 targets the wrong folks (police officer training) and this will get in the way of disrupting gang activity in Washington state.

Photo courtesy of Photobucket

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