Disgraced ex-sheriff of LA admits he lied to FBI, will face no more than 6 months in prison

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Lee Baca is a piece of work. The former LA County Sheriff -- tied with Arizona's Joe Arpaio for worse in the nation -- presided over a series of scandals, none so grotesque as the ring of corrupt deputies whose abuse and misconduct in the county jails were capped off by an attempt to intimidate an FBI agent who was investigating them, and a breathtaking act of criminality in which an FBI informant was moved to a new jail under a fake name, surrounded by a round-the-clock detail of 13 deputies who prevented him from speaking with the FBI. Read the rest

NYPD arrest man for crashing drone into the Empire State Building

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Seems the charges are "reckless endangerment and aviation in and over the city."

Via Philly.com

A New Jersey man was arrested on Thursday after a drone he was flying crashed into the 40th floor of the Empire State Building in New York City, police said.

The 29-year-old man was taken into custody after a small aircraft he was piloting struck the iconic building before coming to rest on the 35th floor on Thursday evening, the New York City Police Department said.

The man asked building security personnel for his drone back after they retrieved it, but instead they called authorities, a police spokesman said.

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Julian Assange had promised to turn himself if the UN ruled his detention lawful

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When a UN panel from the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention upheld Julian Assange's claim that he was being unlawfully detained in London's Ecuadorean embassy, they also stopped Assange from turning himself in to the London police. Read the rest

Video emerges of Pittsburgh cop beating up teen

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Only after assault charges against Pittsburgh police Sgt. Stephen Matakovich were dropped did the public get to see the video of him beating up a teenager.

The off-duty cop, working as a security guard, claimed that 19-year-old Gabriel Despres kept his hands in his pockets after being ordered to remove them and was therefore a "threat."

A judge agreed Monday that Despres was the aggressor and dismissed the charges against Matakovich, reportedly to cheers among police gathered in the courtroom.

But now the FBI plans to review the case after the video of the Nov. 28, 2015 incident outside Heinz Field was posted online.

Though Matakovich also maintained that Despres lunged at and punched him, the video shows otherwise. The grainy footage depicts Matakovich shoving Despres to the ground and launching a series of punches to his head. Despres lifts his arm at one point to shield himself from the blows, but does not appear to retaliate or resist.

It's not Matakovich's first time in the news: in 2003, he was videotaped threatening to beat up a superior officer on the Pittsburgh Police force, but was let off the hook despite protests from his own commander.

Word of the review came a day after a district judge dismissed charges against Sgt. Stephen Matakovich, a 22-year veteran, who had been accused of using unnecessary force in taking down Gabriel Despres, 20, of South Park.… District Justice Robert Ravenstahl’s decision Monday to dismiss charges of simple assault and official oppression against Sgt.

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Justice Department to investigate SF Police, as protests over Mario Woods killing continue

Mario Woods, shot to death by SFPD officers in Dec., 2015.

As protests continue over the death of Mario Woods, who was shot and killed by an SFPD cop in December, the Justice Department announces it will conduct a “comprehensive review” of the San Francisco Police Department.

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Police training eagles to take down drones

The Dutch National Police are attempting to train eagles to take down drones. (Here's an unintentional example of an eagle doing just that!) From IEEE Spectrum:

The Dutch police have partnered with Guard From Above, a raptor training company based in Denmark, to determine whether eagles could be used as intelligent, adaptive anti-drone weapon systems. The eagles are specially trained to identify and capture drones, although from the way most birds of prey react to drones, my guess is that not a lot of training was necessary. After snatching the drone out of the sky, the eagles instinctively find a safe area away from people to land and try take a couple confused bites out of their mechanical prey before their handlers can reward them with something a little less plastic-y. The advantage here is that with the eagles, you don’t have to worry about the drone taking off out of control or falling on people, since the birds are very good at mid-air intercepts as well as bringing the drone to the ground without endangering anyone.

Except maybe the eagles?

"Dutch Police Training Eagles to Take Down Drones" (IEEE Spectrum)

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Report: Chicago PD dashcams sabotaged by officers

Police body cameras are seen on a mannequin at an exhibit booth by manufacturer Wolfcom at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Chicago

80 percent of Chicago PD dashcam videos have been tampered with or otherwise damaged, according to technicians' reports, with audio missing due to 'intentional destruction' in many cases.

Radley Balko:

At minimum, intentionally destroying dash-cam equipment is destruction of public property. You could argue that it’s also tampering with or destroying evidence, particularly if there’s proof that it was done after a shooting or other major incident. [state’s attorney Anita] Alvarez tried to imprison a woman for recording the alleged harassment she received from police while attempting to file a report alleging sexual assault by another police officer. But when cops tamper with evidence of a police shooting of an unarmed man, all she can say is that it’s “frustrating” and that she’d “prefer to have the audio”?

The lack of consequences is the thing. This goes for everything from internet comment trolls right up to killer cops. Read the rest

Hackers release data from Fraternal Order of Police, largest U.S. police union

Fraternal Order of Police president says the union had called in security contractors to investigate, and the hack was traced to an IP address in the UK. Photo: Reuters

Sensitive electronic files from America’s biggest police union were posted online this week after a hacker breached the Fraternal Order of Police website. The ill-gotten dump includes officers' names and addresses, message board posts bashing Barack Obama, and details of eyebrow-raising contracts made between the union and city authorities.

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Anaheim: the happiest surveillance state on earth

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Orange County has many claims to fame: Richard Nixon, the S&L scandal, subprime boiler-rooms, Disneyland, an airport honoring a cowboy named Marion, and now, the revelation that its police force secretly uses low-flying surveillance aircraft to break the encryption of thousands of cellphone users, track their movements, and intercept their communications. Read the rest

Man gasps dying words into officer's bodycam: "They're killing me right now... I can't breathe."

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In 2013, Ana Biocini called the Oakland police because she'd heard a noise and thought there might be an intruder in the house. When the police arrived, they handcuffed her brother, Hernan Jaramillo, "without any lawful reason or justification," dragged him 20 feet down the sidewalk, threw him facedown into the ground, and three officers knelt on him while he begged for breath. The 51 year old man died at the scene.

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Police sergeant: 16 year old girl probably saw penises before I showed her mine, NBD

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Boston Police Sergeant Edwin Guzman's lawyer says that it's not really a big deal that he sent a photo of his penis to the sixteen-year-old daughter of a friend, because "You can’t tell me someone her age has never seen a picture of a penis on the Internet." Read the rest

Shootout in Oregon: one terrorist killed, eight arrested

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Oregon law enforcement ended its longstanding policy of allowing the domestic terrorists who seized the Malheur national wildlife refuge to come and go as they please, pulling over a convoy of the extremists as they traveled to a community meeting. Read the rest

The Police Use of Force project: a scorecard for America's police-department policies

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A group of activists, data scientists and policy analysts have conducted a survey of the use of force policies in place in America's cities, ranking them by whether they meet four common-sense criteria: whether the priority of force is "preserving life"; whether officers are required to de-escalate situations; whether officers are allowed to choke civilians; and whether officers are required to intervene to prevent their colleagues from using excessive force. Read the rest

England's most senior civil judge rules that Terrorism Act violates human rights

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Lord Dyson, the most senior civil judge in England and Wales, has ruled that Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act -- the law that lets the police detain anyone they like for six hours, without a warrant or access to legal advice, and compel them to answer questions -- violates the UK's international human rights obligations. Read the rest

Two top police body camera makers are locked in an epic patent battle

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Two of the most prominent makers of body-worn cameras for cops and first responders are fightin' it out over patents.

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NYC to assign civilian to monitor NYPD counterterrorism

Reuters

An independent civilian appointed by New York's mayor will monitor counterterrorism activities of the New York Police Department, the New York Times reports that lawyers said in court documents Thursday. The news comes as those lawyers attempt to settle two lawsuits about the NYPD's surveillance of Muslims after 9/11.

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NZ police broke the law when they raided investigative journalist's home

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The New Zealand High Court has ruled that the NZ police broke the law in 2014 when they raided the home of Nicky Hager, an investigative journalist whose work was sharply critical of the NZ government, and who was working on Snowden-related disclosures. Read the rest

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