Virginia State cops have blown a fortune on useless cellphone spying gear

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Muckrock has been sending Freedom of Information requests to state police forces to find out how they're using "cell-site simulators" (AKA IMSI catchers/Stingrays), and they hit the motherlode with the Virginia State Police. Read the rest

UK cops beat phone encryption by "mugging" suspect after he unlocked his phone

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Detectives from Scotland Yard's cybercrime unit decided the easiest way to get around their suspect's careful use of full-disk encryption and strong passphrases on his Iphone was to trail him until he made a call, then "mug" him by snatching his phone and then tasking an officer to continuously swipe at the screen to keep it from going to sleep, which would reactivate the disk encryption. Read the rest

Police determine odd gelatinous object isn't murder victim's breast implant

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A man found a strange round, gelatinous blob in a bag at a train station in Maroochydore, Australia. Concerned that the object was a breast implant belonging to a murder victim, the citizen contacted police. From myPolice Sunshine Coast:

Officers seized the item at the request of the man and provided him with a receipt.

The man was concerned it was a prosthetic implant from someone who may have been murdered or drowned.

Investigations revealed what police suspected… the item was indeed a jellyfish!

(via Daily Grail) Read the rest

UK's new surveillance law creates a national browser history with a search engine to match

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The Snoopers Charter, an extreme surveillance bill that passed last week, and it's the most extensive domestic spying regime that any "democratic" country has passed, and is a potential blueprint for Orwellian surveillance elsewhere in the years to come. Read the rest

Brazilian domestic spies use Tinder to infiltrate protest movements

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Brazilian Army Captain Willian Pina Botelho posed as Baltazar "Balta" Nunes in a fake Tinder profile and set out to seduce members of left wing anti-government protest movements in order to infiltrate them. Read the rest

Police bumper that deploys a net to snag escapee's tires during car chase

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The Grappler is a device that unfurls from a police car's front bumper during a car chase to snag the perp's tires and lock up their wheels. Of course, the fleeing suspect's car may be outfitted with its own James Bond-esque auto tech like a smoke screen or caltrop release mechanism.

Read the rest

National Guard helicopter, seven cop vehicles sent to warrantlessly seize a single marijuana plant from an 81-year-old Massachusetts grandmother

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81-year-old Peg Holcomb of Amherst, Mass wasn't home when a low-flying Massachusetts National Guard helicopter and seven ground-based law-enforcement vehicles raided her home, and demanded that her son allow them to seize a single marijuana plant she'd been cultivating in her back yard. Read the rest

Police lawyer threatens reporter: don't report smirking cop's corpse selfie

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A St. Louis-area police officer was photographed posing with a murder victim's corpse, and a police lawyer threatened the newsroom to whom the image was leaked. KMOV, far from being impressed by the attempt to intimidate it, posted Lauren Trager's article wondering what on Earth a cops was doing giving the thumbs up while fooling around with Omar Rahman's dead body — and also Lynette M. Petruska's threatening letter.

“In your mind, is there any reasonable explanation for what that officer was doing?” asked Investigative Reporter Lauren Trager. “No,” said Staton. “Because when they come to a call, they're supposed to be there to help and protect, not doing what he was doing with thumbs up and a smirk on his face.”

Staton's attorney, Antonio Romanucci, agrees.

“It's hideous. The implications of this photograph are just astronomical,” said Romanucci.

He believes something isn't right.

“I have seen thousands and thousands of forensic photographs, I have never seen a staged photograph of an officer next to a deceased body,” Romanucci said.

The North County Policing Cooperative covers Vinita Park and Wellston, just outside of St. Louis city limits in Missouri. The legal letters are a good read; KMOV's counsel's reply may be compared to that given in the case of Arkell v. Pressdram. Read the rest

Texas cop fed shit to homeless person

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Mattthew Luckhurst, a 5-year veteran of San Antionio Police Department, was fired after feeding shit to a homeless person. Josh Baugh reports that he "placed fecal matter between two pieces of bread" and placed it in a styrofoam container next to his victim. It's not clear if they ate it.

“This was a vile and disgusting act that violates our guiding principles of ‘treating all with integrity, compassion, fairness and respect,’ Chief William McManus said in a prepared statement. “The fact that his fellow officers were so disgusted with his actions that they reported him to Internal Affairs demonstrates that this type of behavior will never be tolerated. The action of this one former officer in no way reflects the actions of all the other good men and women who respectfully serve this community.”

Even the police union has ditched him: “He’s on his own right now,” said Mike Helle, president of the San Antonio Police Officers Association. Read the rest

AT&T developed a "product" for spying on all its customers and made millions selling it to warrantless cops

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AT&T's secret "Hemisphere" product is a database of calls and call-records on all its customers, tracking their location, movements, and interactions -- this data was then sold in secret to American police forces for investigating crimes big and small (even Medicare fraud), on the condition that they never reveal the program's existence. Read the rest

Woman with skull on stick leads police to corpse

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A woman walking around Sacramento with a skull on a stick led police to a homeless encampment where she found the cranium. Apparently someone spotted the woman marching around with the skull and called police. After police found the woman at an abandoned house, she took them to the area where they located the body.

"A call like this is not something that happens every day," Sacramento police Sgt. Bryce Heinlein told Fox 40. "We hope we can get down to the bottom of what caused this person to become deceased." Read the rest

At long last, America's racist, crazy tough-on-crime prosecutors are losing elections

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Historically, being an elected prosecutor was a sweet gig: operating with "unchecked power and no transparency," you generally got to run unopposed for re-election, and on the rare instances in which someone did dare to run against the incumbent, the incumbent usually won. Read the rest

Turkish court fines bystander/tourist who sued police for shooting out his eye

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Shavkatbek Saipov was vacationing in Turkey in 2013 when he was hit in the eye by a teargas cannister fired by police during the brutal crackdown on the Occupy Gezi protests; he lost the eye and sued the Turkish police. Read the rest

By stealing from innocents, Chicago PD amassed tens of millions in a secret black budget for surveillance gear

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Since 2009, the Chicago Police Department has seized $72M worth of property from people who were not convicted of any crime, through the discredited civil forfeiture process, keeping $48M worth of the gains (the rest went to the Cook County prosecutor's office and the Illinois State Police) in an off-the-books, unreported slush fund that it used to buy secret surveillance gear. Read the rest

Half of all U.S. adults are in face-recognition databases, and Black people more likely to be targeted

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One in two American adults is in a law enforcement face recognition network.

“The Perpetual Lineup” report out today from a Georgetown University thinktank makes a compelling case for greater oversight of police facial-recognition software that “makes the images of more than 117 million Americans — a disproportionate number of whom are black — searchable by law enforcement agencies across the nation,” as the New York Times account reads.

Read the rest

Everything Belongs to the Future: a tale of pharmadystopian, immortal gerontocrats

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Laurie Penny's first science fiction book, Everything Belongs to the Future, is available to the public as of today: if you've followed her work, you're probably expecting something scathing, feminist, woke, and smart as hell, and you won't be disappointed -- but you're going to get a lot more, besides.

Report finds over 125,000 complaints against more than 25,000 Chicago police officers

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An analysis of five decades of police records by The Chicago Tribune found that a small group of Chicago police officers have racked up over 100 complaints each over the course of their respective careers, “including notoriously corrupt cops who wound up in prison but also others whose allegations of repeated wrongdoing were never before made public.”

Read the rest

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