An Update Roundup from the PLI Guys

Posted on 31 August 2011 by

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Some random thoughts since we’ve both been slammed at work and with travel. And for me, clean-up at our house in the Northeast after hurricane Irene blew through. My family was actually among the luckier – friends in Massachusetts are still without power, four days later.

First, I was personally happy to see the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruling in the Glik case, in which the court ruled that, when he was arrested in Boston for videotaping police as they made an arrest, that “Glik was exercising clearly established First Amendment rights in filming the officers in a public space, and that his clearly-established Fourth Amendment rights were violated by his arrest without probable cause.

Hey-yell, yeah.

Dave and I disagree generally on whether cops should be video recording their own actions – I’m all for it and Dave’s agin it, then again he’s a veteran and I’ve only got about a year on the job. But we both agree that the Constitutional rights of the people should protect those who seek to prove that cops are not abusing their authority or acting illegally.

Read the court ruling, and figure out where you stand on this issue, which is almost certainly heading to the US Supreme Court.

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I was interested to read the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press article on Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism this week. There are some high-level findings which are of interest, such as:

“About eight-in-ten American Muslims (81%) say that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians are never justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies. Just 8% say these tactics are often or sometimes justified. There has been virtually no change in these opinions since 2007.

“U.S. Muslims are far more likely than Muslims in most of the predominantly Muslim countries surveyed by the Pew Global Attitudes Project to say that suicide bombing in the defense of Islam is never justified. Among the seven Muslim publics surveyed, only in Pakistan (85% never justified) and Indonesia (77%) do comparably large numbers reject suicide bombing and other violence against civilians.”
–Pew Research Center for People and the Press

However I would love to get more into some of the other findings which I find baffling, which in total may provide some context within which I can start to fathom just what the survey might mean to us on a practical, pragmatic level. For example, I associate Pakistan with some pretty radical beliefs, and some pretty radical bomb attacks.

What, then, does it mean to me that while 81% of US Muslims believe that “suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians are never justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies”, 85% of Pakistanis believe the same thing? This is the kind of question that keeps me up at night – on the one hand, I’m highly comforted by the relatively high number of American Muslims feeling that terror bombing is abhorrent. Should I feel less comforted because more Pakistanis feel that?

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As police intel people, we were interested to see the media reactions to the use by the Santa Cruz Police Department of some predictive analytics software, and a little horrified to see the media reaction, which basically says – no, literally says – that this kind of stuff is out of the film, Minority Report. Case in point, Pre-Cog Is Real – New Software Stops Crime Before It Happens.

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I spoke at the Metroplex Crime and Intelligence Analysts Association (MCIAA) monthly meeting on 18 August. This is a great group; if you’re in Texas and interested in joining the group, which meets for lunch and brings in speakers to discuss topics of relevance to the crime and intelligence analyst community, drop us a line and we’ll pass on your information. Whether my talk – on Anonymous, LulzSec and other groups launching cyber-attacks against law enforcement – was actually relevant is still a matter of debate, but at least no-one threw any steak at me (the meeting this month was at a Logan’s Road House).

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By the way, speaking of LulzSec and hacks, this week LulzSec breached and leaked the credentials of some 7000 users of a child pornography trading site. It is ironic that a group which claims to be in support of The People would leak the names, addresses, spouse names and residence information for police officers, but only the usernames and passwords of humanity’s worst offenders against society, but what do you want from criminals? Are we supposed to be happy that these thugs have changed their targeting?

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Dave’s and my topic for last month’s column in Law Officer Magazine was in-car video selection criteria. This coming month the topic is mobile device policy, which sounds a little boring until you realize this:

One of the thorniest issues with personal technologies in law enforcement is also the most prevalent: police officer use of mobile phones. The reason: Mobile phones have become—in the past decade— the most personal of electronic devices. It’s also one of the four things officers have with them at all times (the others are your badge, your gun and your wallet).

In 2007, the mobile phone went from fourth to first on the list of “hardest to do without” devices. We’ve long since passed the inflection point at which we access the Internet more with our smartphones than with our home computers. By next year, we’ll have more smartphones than personal computers. This is because we use our mobile phones for everything from taking family photos to managing our investments and banking. Many of us don’t even have a landline anymore.”

It’s a good piece (if we do say so ourselves).

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Another thing we did for Law Officer was test the FLIR H-Series advanced thermal imaging unit, and we’re going to be reviewing that soon. In a word: Capital. Actually, that’s a great word for it, because it’s both truly an outstanding law enforcement and officer safety tool and, uh, well, it costs a lot.

Drop us a line and let us know what you want us to talk about.