Category Archives: Police Abuse

What you should know about NSA phone data program

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government knows who you’re calling.

Every day. Every call.

Here’s what you need to know about the secret program and how it works:

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Q: What happened and why is it a big deal?

A: The Guardian newspaper published a highly classified April U.S. court order that allows the government access to all of Verizon’sphone records on a daily basis, for both domestic and international calls. That doesn’t mean the government is listening in, and the National Security Agency did not receive the names and addresses of customers. But it did receive all phone numbers with outgoing or incoming calls, as well as the unique electronic numbers that identify cellphones. That means the government knows which phones are being used, even if customers change their numbers.

This is the first tangible evidence of the scope of a domestic surveillance program that has existed for years but has been discussed only in generalities. It proves that, in the name of national security, the government sweeps up the call records of Americans who have no known ties to terrorists or criminals.

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Q: How is this different from the NSA wiretapping that was going on under President George W. Bush?

A: In 2005, The New York Times revealed that Bush had signed a secret order allowing the NSA to eavesdrop on Americans without court approval, a seismic shift in policy for an agency that had previously been prohibited from spying domestically. The exact scope of that program has never been known, but it allowed the NSA to monitor phone calls and emails. After it became public, the Bush administration dubbed it the “Terrorist Surveillance Program” and said it was a critical tool in protecting the United States from attack.

“The NSA program is narrowly focused, aimed only at international calls and targeted at al-Qaida and related groups,” the Justice Department said at the time.

But while wiretapping got all the attention, the government was also collecting call logs from American phone companies as part of that program, a U.S. official said Thursday. After the wiretapping controversy, the collection of call records continued, albeit with court approval. That’s what we’re seeing in the newly released court document: a judge’s authorization for something that began years ago with no court oversight.

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Q: Why does the government even want my phone records?

A: They’re not interested in your records, in all likelihood, but your calls make up the background noise of the global phone system.

Look at your monthly phone bill, and you’ll see patterns: calls home as you leave work, food delivery orders on Friday nights, that once-a-week call to mom and dad.

It’s like that, except on a monumentally bigger scale.

The classified court ruling doesn’t say what the NSA intends to do with your records. But armed with the nation’s phone logs, the agency’s computers have the ability to identify what normal call behavior looks like. And, with powerful computers, it would be possible to compare the entire database against computer models the government believes show what terrorist calling patterns look like.

Further analysis could identify what are known in intelligence circles as “communities of interest” — the networks of people who are in contact with targets or suspicious phone numbers.

Over time, the records also become a valuable archive. When officials discover a new phone numberlinked to a suspected terrorist, they can consult the records to see who called that number in the preceding months or years.

Once the government has narrowed its focus on phone numbers it believes are tied to terrorism or foreign governments, it can go back to the court with a wiretap request. That allows the government to monitor the calls in real time, record them and store them indefinitely.

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Q: Why just Verizon?

A: It’s probably not. A former U.S. intelligence official familiar with the NSA program says that records from all U.S. phone companies would be seized, and that they would include business and residential numbers. Only the court order involving Verizon has been made public.

In 2006, USA Today reported that the NSA was secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. The newspaper identified phone companies that cooperated in that effort. The newspaper ultimately distanced itself from that report after some phone companies denied being part of such a government program.

The court document published by The Guardian, however, offers credence to the original USA Today story, which declared: “The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren’t suspected of any crime.”

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Q: But in this case, a judge approved it. Does that mean someone had to show probable cause that a crime was being committed?

A: No. The seizure was authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which operates under very different rules from a typical court. Probable cause is not required.

The court was created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and is known in intelligence circles as the FISA court. Judges appointed by the president hear secret evidence and authorize wiretapping, search warrants and other clandestine efforts to monitor suspected or known spies and terrorists.

For decades, the court was located in a secure area at Justice Department headquarters. While prosecutors in criminal cases must come to court seeking subpoenas, the FISA judges came to the Justice Department. That changed in 2008 with the construction of a new FISA court inside the U.S. District Court in Washington. The courtroom is essentially a vault, designed to prevent anyone from eavesdropping on what goes on inside.

In this instance, Judge Roger Vinson authorized the NSA to seize the phone records under a provision in the USA Patriot Act, which passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and vastly expanded the government’s ability to collect information on Americans.

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Q: If not probable cause, what standard did the government use in this case?

A: The judge relied on one of the most controversial aspects of the Patriot Act: Section 215, which became known colloquially as the “library records provision” because it allowed the government to seize a wide range of documents, including library records. Under that provision, the government must show that there are “reasonable grounds to believe” that the records are relevant to an investigation intended to “protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.”

Exactly what “relevant” meant has been unclear. With the release of the classified court order, the public can see for the first time that everyone’s phone records are relevant.

The Justice Department has staunchly defended Section 215, saying it was narrowly written and has safeguarded liberties.

Some in Congress, however, have been sounding alarms about it for years. Though they are prohibited from revealing what they know about the surveillance programs, Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall or Colorado have said the government’s interpretation of the law has gone far beyond what the public believes.

“We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted section 215 of the Patriot Act,” the senators wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder last year.

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Q: Why don’t others in Congress seem that upset about all this?

A: Many members of Congress have known this was going on for years. While Americans might be surprised to see, in writing, an authorization to sweep up their phone records, that’s old news to many in Congress.

“Everyone should just calm down and understand that this isn’t anything that’s brand new,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Thursday. “It’s been going on for some seven years.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss issued a similar statement:

“The executive branch’s use of this authority has been briefed extensively to the Senate and House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, and detailed information has been made available to all members of Congress.”

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Q: What does the Obama administration have to say about this?

A: So far, very little. Despite campaigning against Bush’s counterterrorism efforts, President Barack Obama has continued many of the most controversial ones including, it is now clear, widespread monitoring of American phone records.

The NSA is particularly reluctant to discuss its programs. Even as it has secretly collected millions of phone records, it has tried to cultivate an image that it was not in the domestic surveillance business.

In March, for instance, NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines, emailed an Associated Press reporter about a story that described the NSA as a monitor of worldwide internet data and phone calls.

“NSA collects, monitors, and analyzes a variety of (asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)FOREIGN(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) signals and communications for indications of threats to the United States and for information of value to the U.S. government,” she wrote. ” (asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)FOREIGN(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) is the operative word. NSA is not an indiscriminate vacuum, collecting anything and everything.”

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Q: Why hasn’t anyone sued over this? Can I?

A: People have sued. But challenging the legality of secret wiretaps is difficult because, in order to sue, you have to know you’ve been wiretapped. In 2006, for instance, a federal judge in Detroit declared the NSA warrantless wiretapping program unconstitutional. But the ruling was overturned when an appeals court that said the plaintiffs — civil rights groups, lawyers and scholars — didn’t have the authority to sue because they couldn’t prove they were wiretapped.

Court challenges have also run up against the government’s ability to torpedo lawsuits that could jeopardize state secrets.

The recent release of the classified court document is sure to trigger a new lawsuit in the name of Verizon customers whose records were seized. But now that the surveillance program is under the supervision of the FISA court and a warrant was issued, a court challenge is more difficult.

Suing Verizon would also be difficult. A lawsuit against AT&T failed because Congress granted telecommunications companies retroactive immunity for cooperating with warrantless surveillance. In this instance, Verizon was under a court order to provide the records to the government, making a lawsuit against the company challenging.

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Q: Can the government read my emails?

A: Not under this court order, but it’s not clear whether the NSA is monitoring email content as part of this program.

In 2006, former AT&T technician Mark Klein described in federal court papers how a “splitter” device in San Francisco siphoned millions of Americans’ Internet traffic to the NSA. That probably included data sent to or from AT&T Internet subscribers, such as emails and the websites they visited.

Most email messages are sent through the Internet in “plain-text” form, meaning they aren’t encrypted and anyone with the right tools can view their contents. Similar to an old-fashioned envelope and letter, every email contains details about whom it’s from and where it’s supposed to go.

Unlike postal letters, those details can include information that can be linked to a subscriber’s billing account, even if he or she wants to remain anonymous.

In May 2012, Wyden and Udall asked the NSA how many people inside the United States had their communications “collected or reviewed.”

The intelligence community’s inspector general, I. Charles McCullough III, told the senators that providing such an estimate “would likely impede the NSA’s mission” and “violate the privacy of U.S. persons.”

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Credit/Source
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Associated Press writers Jack Gillum and Lara Jakes contributed to this report

America’s surveillance state: anger swells after data revelations

The government is over stepping our rights and you can beat motorcycle clubs are on their list…..

Senior politicians reveal that US counter-terrorism efforts have swept up personal data from American citizens for years

• Revealed: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily

The scale of America’s surveillance state was laid bare on Wednesday as senior politicians revealed that the US counter-terrorism effort had swept up swaths of personal data from the phone calls of millions of citizens for years.

After the revelation by the Guardian of a sweeping secret court order that authorised the FBI to seize all call records from a subsidiary of Verizon, the Obama administration sought to defuse mounting anger over what critics described as the broadest surveillance ruling ever issued.

A White House spokesman said that laws governing such orders “are something that have been in place for a number of years now” and were vital for protecting national security. Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, said the Verizon court order had been in place for seven years. “People want the homeland kept safe,” Feinstein said.

What do you think?

 

Dirty Cops LAPD

Here is the question when does a citizen have the right to protect themselves against unlawful arrest, unlawful search and seizure and when does the police stop go from legal to illegal. If a police stop is determined to be illegal, and an officer is using force that is not legal, does a citizen have the right to protect themselves by fighting back?
For more information on your right of defense against unlawful arrests. Click here

It is easy to criticize this video because the guy insisted on holding the camera vertical, but it’s becoming obvious that smartphone companies need to build their phones to record horizontally even if you hold it vertically as we can do with the Flip.

After all, it’s easier to hold the phone with one hand when it’s in the vertical position.

In this video, which I am unable to tell where and when it took place, a cop has a motorcyclist pulled over, who insists on recording with his cell phone.

The cop, who appears to be waiting for another cop, can’t stand it anymore and finally pounces on the man. The last words we hear before the clip ends is, “You are being de …”

We can only imagine he was being detained.

I’m sure by morning, readers will have provided the rest of the story.

UPDATE: It has since been determined this is an LAPD cop.

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Outrage Grows Over Justice Department Seizure of Associated Press Phone Records

bad-copCritics condemn Holder’s secret subpoena as an ‘abuse of power.’

When the news broke yesterday afternoon it was at first hard to believe, yet, when one thought about it for a bit, it seemed all too part of a pattern. The Associated Press itself broke the news that the US Department of Justice had notified AP last Friday that it had secretly obtained telephone records for more than twenty separate telephone lines assigned to AP journalists and offices (both cell and home phone lines).

Their report continued, “AP is asking the DOJ for an immediate explanation of the extraordinary action and for the records to be returned to AP and all copies destroyed. AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt protested the massive intrusion into AP’s newsgathering activities in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder…. Prosecutors have sought phone records from reporters before, but the seizure of records from such a wide array of AP offices, including general AP switchboards numbers and an office-wide shared fax line, is unusual and largely unprecedented.”

Of course, the Obama administration has aggressively gone after leakers and brought six cases against whistleblowers, more than previous administrations combined.

Pruitt (who I met several times a few years back when he headed McClatchy), wrote:

There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know. We regard this action by the Department of Justice as a serious interference with AP’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news.

Kathleen Carroll, the longtime AP executive editor, said on MSNBC this morning: “I’ve been in this business more than thirty years and our First Amendment lawyers and our lawyers inside the AP and our CEO is also a well-known First Amendment lawyer—none of us have seen anything like this.”  Glen Greewwald at The Guardian hits the DOJ, as you might expect.

While no explanation was given, speculation quickly centered on an AP scoop from last May about a foiled terror plot coming out of Yemen, involving plans to blow up an airliner bound for the United States.

Response was swift and angry—from left and right (the latter perhaps mainly happy to have another Obama “scandal” to exploit), all the way to The Daily Showlate in the dayBen Wizner, director of the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project called it an “abuse of power.” The Newspaper Association of America, a leading trade group, declared, “These actions shock the American conscience and violate the critical freedom of the press protected by the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

Others defended the move, noting that it had been handled through proper channels—that is, a judge had approved it. The White House said it had no involvement in the action at all.

This New York Times story offers a fair look. Ex–newspaper reporter Charles P. Pierce calls for Eric Holder’s resignation. Here’s a tough response from EFF, including:

It is disturbing enough that the government appears to have violated its own regulations for subpoenas to the news media. However, this revelation also shows that we have a severe problem in protecting the privacy of our communications. It is critical to update our privacy laws and our understanding of the Constitution, and reflect the realities of what law enforcement can determine from our records and other metadata about our communications stored with our communications providers, be they phone companies, ISPs or social networks.

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TESTILYING: COPS ARE LIARS WHO GET AWAY WITH PERJURY

So, I just got done with a briefing from my attorney, I’m going to say this and I don’t care if you are offended, but cops, especially gang task force are liars. And if you are one those cops who thinks I am wrong, when was the last time to spoke up against an injustice by a cop? We all know they happen. There’s something seriously wrong with the country and the law enforcement that is in place, which is sworn to protect and serve the people. Nobody really wants to address the issue about cops, who are liars, who hurt and kill people, who are negligent in their jobs and duties, and cause pain and suffering. We as a country are so naïve and stupid when it comes to the subject, that we are willing to overlook the facts that are stated in a straight face. Just because someone wears a uniform, carries a badge and a gun does not make him above reproach. It is this type of thinking and mentality that has cost many people their lives, years spent in prison, and so much more. And these cops who choose to live and be deceitful and hurt people get away with violating people’s constitutional rights.

ZP_Dirty_Cop_Whistleblower_v2

If you find yourself on a jury. Do not be full by these perpetrators in uniform, they do live in, they will line to protect themselves, their institution of lies and their brotherhood of lies. Don’t be fooled.

You are a police officer, patrolling your route in East New York. You see someone walking down the street; they are carrying a bag. You are bored and not really doing anything else and have been thinking for a while that you’d like to get noticed by your boss, make him proud. So you stop this guy, just to see what will happen.

Maybe he starts to get a little nervous and you start thinking that he’s actually up to something. Why would he be nervous just talking to you? So you take his bag and open it up despite his protests, and maybe there are 15 kilos of cocaine inside and $50,000 in cash. This is suddenly a heck of an arrest.

You call into your sergeant, and he arrives, asking you how it was that you came to make this great collar. You tell him, and he waits quietly until you are through. He tells you there is just one problem: The search was illegal, you violated the guy’s rights, and you cannot bring this story to the district attorney’s office to prosecute the arrest.

You and the sergeant have one legal option: Take the drugs and cash into custody, and let the guy walk. But it’s a big arrest, and you don’t want to let him go. So Sarge leads you through a new scenario. Now you saw the man kneeling down, opening the bag near the wheel well of a car. As you approached you saw inside the bag what looked to be, according to your training, a brick of cocaine. The guy looks up at you, and the drugs fall out into the street. You stop to talk to him, and he offers you the $50,000 as a bribe not to arrest him. Your supervisor concludes by saying, “You didn’t hear it from me.”

While the specific circumstances of this hypothetical are perhaps a bit flashy, the routine is typical in the life of a street cop, according to former NYPD Detective Carlton Berkley. An even more ordinary case would involve possession of a small amount of marijuana, the most common arrest in New York City.

“At the district attorney’s, you can tell them that story,” Berkley explains. “It’s not even necessarily a believable story. No one in their right mind would examine drugs like that in the street. When you step out into the street with 15 kilos of cocaine and $50,000, you already know what you have in the bag. But the pressure is put on the arresting officer, because you always want an airtight case, you are supposed to win, and the cop is supposed to come out looking like the good guy.”

Misrepresentation, deception, and outright lying appear to be part of a police officer’s job description, so much so that the term “testilying,” now common vernacular for police falsifications, was actually coined by NYPD officers as something of an inside joke.

Even done in the interest of public order, or some imagined ideal of keeping the bad guys off the streets, this practice has wretched results. Today there are 7.5 million people under the control of the US criminal justice system and countless more impacted by the kidnapping and caging of their family members, loved ones, employers, employees, coworkers, neighbors, etc. The disparate impact on demographic groups with darker skin—primarily people perceived to be Black, Latino/a or Muslim—has been well documented.

It is the exception, not the rule, that these lies are exposed by judges or prosecutors in the courtroom for the public to consider (for the defendants the lies are quite apparent), and the results, when it happens, are twisted.

On November 17, 2012, a 40-year-old father from Harlem, Greg Allen, defending himself pro se (Latin, he says, for when you fire your attorney), won acquittal in a case brought against him by the Brooklyn District Attorney and the New York City Police Department. The Judge determined that the witnesses, two officers from Brooklyn’s notorious 73rd precinct, had lied.

The police officers, William Gardner and John Blanco, had accused him of disorderly conduct and obstructing government administration (crimes he did not commit), and the cop’s own video evidence showed his innocence. The police and the district attorney prosecuted the case anyway even though their own videotapes exposed the police testimony as a fabrication. They refused to back down from their original story. The judge didn’t buy it.

“It’s like you’re sitting there in the courtroom watching a video with the judge and the cops, and the cops are just saying something totally different than what the video shows,” Allen says.

So used to this absurd process was the young prosecutor, Seth Zuckerman, that he never flinched as the cops went through the charade. Perhaps more tellingly, the district attorney’s office, Zuckerman’s bosses, didn’t drop the case even after learning that their only physical evidence contradicted the officer’s story of the arrest.

A few weeks later, US District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin upheld claims of NYPD misconduct in another case, finding the testimony made by police officers Miguel Santiago and Kieron Ramdeen not credible. Scheindlin sort of piled it on. The officers’ account “makes no…sense,” it was “implausible,” she said. She noted that Santiago had previously lied in the scope of his police work, issuing summonses to an innocent person to help a friend of his in a bizarre revenge scheme.

Scheindlin’s ruling hinged on the fact that officers in the Bronx, Santiago and Ramdeen among them, routinely invented justifications for stopping people outside certain buildings in the borough and at times made arrests without cause. People doing nothing wrong were stopped, harassed, illegally searched, and arrested at the whim of the officers who then created legal justifications for their actions after the fact.

First- and second-degree perjury is a felony, and yet none of these cops will face any charges for straight up lying in a courtroom under oath. The rules are different for cops. As infuriating as that might seem, this pattern of behavior has been known fact for decades.

A 1987 study from Chicago found that 76 percent of officers agreed that that they frequently bent the facts to establish probable cause; 48 percent said that judges were right in tossing police testimony as untrustworthy.

Judge Alex Kozinski of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, publicly stated in the 1990s:

“It is an open secret long shared by prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges that perjury is widespread among law enforcement officers … police lie to avoid letting someone they think is guilty, or they know is guilty, go free.”

By not acknowledging rampant police misconduct, by not demanding that criminal justice is meted out in a fair way, what are we giving up? Are we sacrificing a moral claim to justice by sanctioning the police—and thus the state—the freedom to circumvent the rule of law in the pursuit of a particular type of social order?

“That is assuming that the justice system ever had any moral claim, which I would not assume,” former NYPD officer and Queens county prosecutor Eugene O’Donnell says. “There is dishonesty in court, prosecutorial dishonesty. It’s legislative dishonesty that sets up this system and by no means are cops exempt from a system that is dishonest and fundamentally flawed.”

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The course of a legal proceeding provides law enforcement officers with several opportunities to perjure themselves. Immediately following an arrest, the officer and a prosecutor fashion a “complaint” – the legal document that officially charges the defendant with a crime. The officer swears that the document is truthful.

Then there is an indictment, which typically includes a grand jury that again calls on the officer to testify to the events that led up to the arrest. If the defendant challenges aspects of the arrest, for example by arguing that the officers had searched him and his belongings without his consent, then a “suppression hearing” is convened to determine what evidence can be used at a subsequent trial. During the hearing the officer will again testify to the events of the arrest.

Cops didn’t always have to lie to square away their arrests. The historical irony is that a Supreme Court ruling barring evidence obtained illegally gave birth to today’s practice.

The art of testilying seems to have developed in response to the so-called exclusionary rule, which bars evidence acquired by the police in an unlawful manner: the fruit of the poisonous tree. The US Supreme Court, through landmark Fourth Amendment rulings in Mapp v. Ohio (1961) and Terry v. Ohio (1968), limited the methods by which police could gather evidence to be presented at trial.

Prior to Mapp, police had little incentive to lie in court because there was nothing wrong with truthfully detailing the many ways in which they broke the law. Instead they could openly testify that they had stopped a man for no reason, found drugs, and arrested him. While the search was technically illegal, the evidence was admissible and could be used at trial. After Mapp, these sorts of cases were challenged, and police started making up justifications for illegal stops and seizures.

Writing in The Nation in 1967, in the wake of the new Mapp rules, Irving Younger explained the routine:

“Then the police made the great discovery that if the defendant drops the narcotics on the ground, after which the policeman arrests him, then the search is reasonable and the evidence is admissible. Spend a few hours in New York City Criminal Court nowadays, and you will hear case after case in which a policeman testifies that the defendant dropped the narcotics on the ground.”

And thusly “the dropsies” entered the police lexicon.

Although judges and juries are not supposed to consider the word of an officer above that of a defendant, most typically do. Most people have been socialized to see the police officer as a generally good person and the accused as generally bad. Upon closer inspection, this assumption doesn’t make much sense, but nevertheless it empowers law enforcement to stretch the truth. They can count on getting the benefit of the doubt.

“Everyone assumes that the defendant is self-interested and is motivated to lie, and that the officer is there just to say what happened,” said former New York City assistant district attorney Bennett Capers, now a professor at Brooklyn Law School.

But this is not really true.

Officers may gain some tangible benefits from seeing that their arrests turn into convictions—such as promotions or preferential assignments—but more powerful still is the culture of law enforcement that degrades any type of perceived weakness and indoctrinates an us-against-the-world mentality that provides rationalization for almost any activity, legal or not.

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“Police see the world in black and white, there are not a lot of shades of gray. There is us, on the job, and our families and people who are sympathetic to our worldview and everybody else is an asshole…. Anything that I, as one of the good guys, that I can do to get the bad guys in jail is justifiable,” former Boston Police Department Lieutenant Thomas Nolan says.

It’s this mindset that makes a police officer feel he is entitled to lie, justified to do whatever it takes and even, in a way, obligated to violate people’s rights if he deems it necessary to his purpose of getting the “scum” off the streets.

“The thin blue line and all those bullshit rhetorical phrases are thrown out there, telling them they are the only thing between order and anarchy,” Nolan says.

The police are a fraternity built upon a false reality. Officers see themselves in a dangerous, noble cause against the underworld, and this is further instilled through the same types of bonding, secrecy, and war metaphors that have historically been part of the languages of those engaged in the practices of exterminating the “other.” Psychologically the police are indoctrinated into something akin to genocidal project: the forced removal of a class of people from their homes to prison.

There is a deep-seated disregard for what they consider to be silly little laws made by a silly little Supreme Court in a backroom far removed from the dangerous streets they are trying to bring into order.

Beyond the sociology, it is also embarrassing for an officer when a defendant walks—when cops lose a case. Now his fellow officer brothers are telling him he doesn’t know how to testify, they can’t believe he lost such an easy case. Part of this is just making sure you save face.

“Winning is what counts with the NYPD and the district attorney’s office,” Berkley said. When the cop wins, he gets a pat on the back, even when everyone knows that it was a bullshit case.

But it’s not all on the officers. Former NYPD commissioner William Bratton, laid the blame for testilying on prosecutors, suggesting that through their efforts to win cases, they sometimes “coerced” young, well-meaning officers into perjury.

The district attorneys do whatever they can to keep you as an officer sticking with your story. If you start changing it up, the district attorney will get you back in line, according to Berkley.

An Capers agrees. The prosecutors don’t want to be embarrassed and lose the case either. As a prosecutor, it’s tempting to explain to an officer-witness what he would need to say in order to make the conviction, and then ask him what it was that he saw.

Prosecutors and judges tend to look the other way, even though sometimes the lies are quite apparent. This is partly due to prejudging the defendant as guilty.

But political implications also play a role. The district attorneys rely on the gravy train of arrests to make their cases. A world without criminalization would mean the obsolescence of the police, the prosecutors, the judges, the court staff—and no one already in the mix wants that.

If the district attorney were to accuse an officer of perjury, it’s basically a declaration of war, Berkley said. All of a sudden you will have a lot of DWI check points outside those office holiday parties.

“At the Southern District of New York, if we really thought that an officer had lied, and we had evidence or a judge had made a finding on the record that the officer had lied, our response was to keep using that officer,” Capers said. “We’d avoid bringing him to the stand, we’d call his partner rather than him, but we’d never take the next step of filing a perjury case because that might mean he’d lose his job.”

Meanwhile, officers can rely on further protection from each other.

“You’ve been brainwashed into this way of thinking it’s us against them. You are spending more time with these guys than with your wife and kids; they might save your life in a shoot out. You do whatever you can for your brother,” Berkley said.

If you go against this code, you are labeled a “rat” and there are real repercussions, he added. All of sudden your tires are flat at the end of a shift, you have urine or feces on your locker, your wife is getting phone calls, you’re getting a type of supervision where you can’t really breathe.

“It’s not worth it, because these guys are capable of really carrying out their threats, because who are they? They are the police,” Berkley said. Meanwhile, if you play by the rules you are beloved by everyone.

This code, the Blue Wall of Silence, has been one reason that holding police accountable is so difficult. In 1995 Boston Police officers beat one of their own, a Black undercover officer named Michael Cox, nearly to death after mistaking him for a homicide suspect. As he lay intubated in a hospital, the 21 officers at the scene each denied having any idea what had happened to their “brother.”

In November 2012, a federal judge in Chicago held the city responsible for the pervasive deception of its police department after its officers refused to properly investigate the complaint of a bartender who was severely beaten by a drunk off-duty cop to whom she had denied service. The arresting officers went to great lengths to protect their coworker, and another city employee attempted to bribe the victim into silence. The city is appealing the ruling and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel filed legal papers suggesting that there should be a code of silence about the code of silence.

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The public’s reverence for law enforcement is also to blame for the impunity that police officers enjoy when they break the law and violate the most basic of human rights. There is a shared social understanding that police officers have a tough job to do, that we should cut them a little bit of slack, and really, protect them, Capers said.

Even in New York City people seem to approve of the NYPD. Ray Kelly has a 70 percent approval rating, O’Donnell notes, explaining that every New Yorker is complicit in sanctioning the practices of the city’s police force just as every American is responsible for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Ordinary people are more hardnosed about crime than is generally acknowledged,” he said.

Capers finds there are distinctions on this issue along racial, class and neighborhood lines. There is a particular disparity between how mainstream America views police officers and how the residents of poor urban communities do, he said.

“For a lot of minority communities, they see evidence of police abuses and manipulating the evidence all the time. They show up in the courthouse and say ‘That’s not what happened!” In poor communities we’ve seen officers harassing people on the street, using excessive force and then claiming they did not, and so how can we take any officers seriously?” Capers said.

The continued surveillance of the police by civilians has been critical, both to the protection of people’s lives, liberty, and rights, and to the creation of a culture that might become more amenable to acknowledging the abuse of police officers and its corrosive impact.

“With people monitoring the police on their cell phones, evidence of police lying is much more common. Now we can prove it,” Capers said. “We really only prosecute officers when we can prove it, and I mean prove it by it’s on tape or we have several preachers up there to say this is what happened.”

As more of mainstream America sees this type of footage, the political will to make institutional changes will grow, perhaps supporting a higher level of disobedience to law enforcement.

People do not have to tolerate police abuse, but you have to be willing and able to get arrested and maybe go to jail if you are going to stand up for yourself, Berkley said. Filming the police and organizing community support for the purpose of combating police abuse are some of the only ways to protect ourselves and to win these types of cases at trial, he said.

We know that people are more likely to follow laws that they think are just, and more likely to support a legal system that treats them fairly. By giving law enforcement a free pass to break the law, by bending over backwards to ensure that there is no accountability for police officers except in the most unavoidable circumstances (i.e. alleged cannibalism), we are making illegitimate our entire system of justice and thus likely creating more so-called crime than we are eliminating by doing whatever it takes to get convictions on a handful of cases.

If we started taking police lies more seriously—prosecuting them as we would civilian perjurers—people in the communities most negatively impacted by police abuses (also typically communities with high levels of violence) would get the message that they are being protected by the law not persecuted by the law. People might even develop faith in the system. Until then, it’s hard to argue against the old saying that this is not a broken system but one functioning just as it was created to.

It’s not a problem of a few bad apples, as some people suggest, but instead a matter of irresponsible leadership, a pathological law enforcement culture, and a public ready and willing to sacrifice notions of justice, fairness and humanity for… what exactly?

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Colorado: Court Endorses Handcuffing of Innocent Motorists During Robbery Search

Judge rules search for bank robber in Aurora, Colorado justifies holding 29 innocent motorists at gun point for nearly two hours.

Police in Aurora, Colorado did nothing wrong when they handcuffed dozens of motorists and held them at gunpoint for an hour and forty-five minutes, according to a ruling issued last month. US District Court Judge William J. Martinez refused to play the role of a Monday morning quarterback in deciding whether the controversial mass detention violated the Fourth Amendment rights of drivers who had been going about their business on a Saturday afternoon.

On June 2, police were responded to the robbery of a Wells Fargo Bank. A masked man waved a gun in one hand and an air horn in another, ordering customers to get down on the floor as he scooped stacks of cash into a bag. He walked out, but a GPS tracker on the money revealed his location within a thirty-foot radius. Police had a better scanner that could narrow the range to five feet. Officers noticed at around 3:52pm that day, the signal showed the robber had stopped on Greenwood Drive, but they did not respond before he began moving again three minutes later. At 4pm, Officer Kristopher McDowell followed the signal to the intersection of Iliff Avenue and Buckley Road and order all twenty cars in the vicinity to stop. Thirty more officers soon arrived.

Twenty-nine drivers and passengers were ordered to remain in their cars without moving, holding their hands outside the window of their cars while officers trained their guns on them. At no point was anyone allowed to use a restroom, contact families or tend to young children in the backseat of vehicles. Nobody was informed about the reason they were being detained.

At first, only a few were ordered out of their vehicles with their hands up at gunpoint. Police noticed one of them, Christian Paetsch, who turned out to be the prime suspect, was seen making furtive motions within his Ford Expedition SUV. An hour into the stop, the handheld GPS unit was brought to the Expedition where it gave the strongest response of any car in the area.

At this point, occupants of seventeen other cars were ordered out using “high-risk” techniques that left all adults not traveling with children handcuffed at gunpoint. By 5:28pm, Officer Alfred Roberson looked through the Expedition’s window and saw a bundle of cash in the front passenger seat. About fifteen minutes later, the innocent drivers were freed after crime scene photographers finished documenting the area. Paetsch was taken into custody and his SUV was found to have a 9mm Glock, a .22-caliber Walther handgun, a wig, an air horn, gloves and $22,956 in cash with an embedded GPS transponder.

Paetsch wanted the evidence thrown out because the search was conducted without a warrant. Judge Martinez rejected his motion, citing the Supreme Court’s precedents governing drunk-driving roadblocks. The court found it was reasonable to believe the dangerous bank robber was among the vehicles stopped, but it went further to back the tactics used by Aurora police.

“The court questions whether such invasive techniques were necessary to use on all twenty vehicles, as opposed to, for example, only the two vehicles in which occupants were observed moving around inside their vehicles and otherwise acting suspiciously,” Judge Martinez wrote. “However, the fact of the matter is that the officers had only very vague suspect information, such that it was reasonable to err on the side of caution and assume that the robber could be any of the stopped adults. Further, the fact that the court questions whether less invasive measures could have been utilized is, under the circumstances, unwarranted second-guessing of the officers’ actions here, given that they were attempting to apprehend a dangerous felon in real time.”

Under the high court’s precedent, roadblocks may only detain motorists not suspected of any wrongdoing for a “brief” time. Judge Martinez also brushed aside this concern, insisting the actions were reasonable under the unusual circumstances.

“The court is to some extent troubled by the overall invasiveness of the traffic stop, but not enough so to hold that the officers’ overall actions were unconstitutional under the circumstances,” Judge Martinez wrote.

DALLAS COUNTY DEPUTY SUSPENED WITHOUT PAY

For seizing biker’s camera. The Dallas County Sheriff’s office issued a 38-day suspension today to Deputy James Westbrook after footage showed him seizing a camera from a motorcycle rider. The case received a large amount of media coverage in the days following the incident which took place over the Memorial Day weekend.

The majority of outspoken commentators freely acknowledge that they sympathize with the challenges that law enforcement personnel encounter; however, it was not justifiable for Westbrook to seize the camera that belonged to rider Chris Moore.

View slideshow: Dallas County deputy suspended without pay for seizing biker’s camera
The video has been viewed almost 500,000 times on YouTube at this link and Westbrook is on camera issuing this comment to Moore:
“The reason you’re being pulled over is because I’m gonna take your camera and we’re gonna use it as evidence of in the crimes that have been committed by other bikers.”

Legal experts state that Westbrook’s reason does not constitute probable cause to make a traffic stop nor is it illegal to wear a camera on a helmet.
Westbrook ended up arresting Moore and then trying to slam the door of the patrol car on the leg of the biker before taking him to jail. Moore was finally released and issued a ticket for an obstructed license plate.

Moore’s attorney, Hunter Biederman, is prepared to take the case to court even though an obstructed license plate is a small matter, it is more to address the principle of the situation in how Westbrook opted to handle himself.

Of further note is that eight of the 38 days of suspension are due to Westbrook leaving a drunk driver at the jail without booking him before going out on the call relating to motorcyclists riding on I-35.

Westbrook does have the right to appeal his suspension.

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Another Blant Act Of Profiling Motorcycle Club Members As Gang Members and Terroist

Should Foreign Hells Angels Be Allowed in the United States?

The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club has filed a lawsuit against several federal agency heads, claiming the group’s foreign members have been wrongfully banned from entering the United States.

Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas are named as defendants in the lawsuit, as the lawsuit claims their executive rules could be violating the Hells Angels’ constitutional rights.

The federal lawsuit contends that several foreign Hells Angels members applied for visas last year to attend one of the club’s major events in New Hampshire, and they were denied, based on their membership with the Hells Angels.

According to the lawsuit, “[m]any members” of the Hells Angels don’t have criminal records, and the club says it’s not a “criminal organization.”

On the other hand, the lawsuit recognizes that Homeland Security and the Department of State made an agreement to define the Hells Angels as a “known criminal organization” in the Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Manual — thus making them ineligible to obtain a visa.

But the Hells Angels’ lawsuit claims this rule flies in the face of the congressional immigration legislation that allows immigration officials to deny visas for security reasons.

“Defendants will deny visas to all aliens based solely on their membership in a Hells Angels charter without further analysis into whether or not that individual seeks to enter the United States to engage solely, principally, or incidentally in unlawful activity,” the lawsuit states.

The Hells Angels are ultimately seeking a permanent injunction against the rules that are keeping its members from getting visas — which would likely apply to other biker gangs listed by the State Department, like the Outlaws, Bandidos, and Mongols, as well as street gangs like MS 13 and the 18th Street gang.

Source: Valley Fever
Hells Angels Napolitano

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Off The Beat – Dirty Cops

L.A.P.D. Beating A 20 Year

COPS BEAT UP XAVIER COLLEGE STUDENT IN VENICE, CA WHILE HE WAS HANDCUFFED & PINNED TO THE GROUND

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Guidelines for Saying No to Police Searches

One of the main powers that law enforcement officers carry is the power to intimidate citizens into voluntarily giving up their rights. Police are trained to believe in their authority and trained to perform their interactions with private citizens with confidence. It is their job to deal with problems and they learn to manage uncomfortable situations through strength. Most people, when confronted by police get a mild panic reaction, become anxious, and try to do whatever they can to minimize the time spent with the officer. Because of the imbalance of power between citizen and officer, when a law enforcement officer makes a strongly worded request, most people consent without realizing that they are giving up constitutional protections against improper meddling by the State in the private affairs of citizens.

A common situation is that of the traffic stop. A person is pulled over for a real or perceived vehicle violation and, after checking the driver’s license and registration, the officer asks the driver if they have any weapons or illegal drugs in their car. When the citizen answers “no”, the police officer asks (in the strongest language he can without demanding) to check that for himself. “Then you wouldn’t mind if I took a look in your trunk.” or “Why don’t you step out of your car.” Most people acquiesce to the ‘requests’ because they don’t realize they have the right to say no.

WHY YOU HAVE TO SAY “NO” CLEARLY

The Federal Supreme Court has ruled that as long as the police do not force an individual to do something, the individual is acting voluntarily, even if a normal person would feel very intimidated and would not reasonably feel they could say no. (see Florida v. Bostick, 1991) If you do what a policeman tells you to do before you are arrested, you are ‘voluntarily’ complying with their ‘requests’.

Unfortunately police will often try to push citizens to accept a search, to the point of ignoring when you say “no”. Its important to say very clearly “I do not consent to a warrantless search.” Or “This is a private event/home/place, you may not enter without a warrant.” Don’t simply answer questions about searches with a simple “yes” or “no”. See this case where drug police asked a confusing question and claimed they misunderstand the answer “yes” to mean they could search (October 24, 2000. Gregg County CODE officers, defendant Dockens, judge Steger, federal court, east district Texas).

Until you say “No, I don’t think I’d like to do that.” you are cooperating as a peer with the law enforcement officer who is trying to make the world safer. When you say “no” to a request by a police officer, you are asserting your lawful rights as a private citizen. If the officer demands you comply, then in most cases you have little choice. Usually, however, the officer is likely to try to convince you to comply voluntarily. Until and unless you say “no” and stick to it, the police don’t even need any real authority to tell you what to do.

WHAT A POLICEMAN CAN MAKE YOU DO

What a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) can demand of a citizen depends heavily on the context of the order. Most generally, police are allowed by the courts to act as any reasonable private citizen would. They may ask questions, look through windows that they happen to be near, walk or drive in public areas, etc. Without a warrant or any suspicion of illegal activity, they are allowed to interact with other citizens, but they have a limited amount of authority to demand compliance, search, or detain people or things.

In highly volatile or dangerous situations, a LEO’s authority to require compliance is much higher than in non-threatening contexts. The Supreme Court has ruled (with Terry v. Ohio being one of the primary cases) that the police are allowed to protect themselves from potentially dangerous people or situations. Under the umbrella of “concern for safety” or “search for weapons” the police have wide latitude to do what they want and to order citizens to comply with their demands.

The Terry v. Ohio case created the “weapons search”, “terry search”, or “terry pat” exception to the 4th Amendment ‘probable cause requirement’ for searches. The court ruled that if a police officer “[has] reasonable cause to believe that [someone] might be armed” they can require they submit to a quick patdown. What this has meant is that it is now standard practice to pat down anyone that a LEO wants to, without the need for arrest, probable cause, or even suspicion of a crime.

Many police use weapons pats as a way to intimidate and harass citizens, since it is a power the courts have allowed them to use with little justification. Often a LEO will find something during their patdown which is clearly not a weapon which they would like to see, but this is beyond their Court-approved authority ( see below ).

Also under the ‘concern for safety’ umbrella, police are given wide latitude by courts to ask individuals to comply with simple non-intrusive commands such as “stand over there” or “wait here for a moment”, but the line between order and request becomes very fuzzy when an officer starts telling people where to go unless the situation is volatile / dangerous. There are many stories of two (or more) individuals confronted by police ( one example ) whom the police intentionally separate to try to intimidate or to compare stories. This is generally a ‘fishing’ maneuver which would not fall under the ‘concern for safety’ umbrella. ( see below )

During a stop for a traffic violation, police have the power to demand a proper driver’s license and other state-required documentation (registration, insurance). In most [ed-all?] states they also have the power to demand sobriety tests [ed – do they need reasonable suspicion of intoxication ?]. The courts have also given police the power to frisk a driver based on the Terry v. Ohio decision (the police should have some reason to think there is danger) and some decisions have even allowed an officer (with no suspicion or cause) to search the area around the driver’s seat. [ed-citation for this?]

When a private, law abiding citizen encounters police, the amount of intrusion a Law Enforcement Officer is allowed to demand is limited. Some areas have laws against “disobeying a police officer” or “obstructing an officer from their duties”, but the bounds of what officers can reasonably require someone not suspected of any other criminal activity in a peaceful situation have not been clearly drawn by the courts. If someone interferes with a police officer engaged in an arrest or investigation, police tend to have very little patience and will quickly threaten or implement detainment or arrest. Generally, courts give police wide latitude in executing their duties and disobeying a “reasonable” direct order from an officer could be prosecuted in most jurisdictions.

As an encounter proceeds, the police gather data that they can use to formulate ‘reasonable, articulable suspicion’ or (stronger) ‘probable cause’ that the individual has contraband or is involved in a crime. As the level of suspicion rises, so does the LEO’s authority to intrude into a person’s affairs. Once the level rises to ‘probable cause’ to believe that there is contraband in a vehicle, the Supreme Court has made some very disturbing decisions allowing the police broad power to search in certain cases, including the power to search closed containers without a warrant. (see United States v. Ross, 456 U.S. 798 (1982) )

In a recent decision (Wyoming v. Houghton, April 1999), the Supreme Court ruled that even passengers’ belongings, if left in the car, may be searched thoroughly if the driver is suspected of a crime.

In most states, you are not required to identify yourself or show the police your ID (unless you are in a vehicle). We have been unable to confirm that in Nevada that police try to charge people with obstruction of justice for people who refuse to identify themselves to police. However, if you choose to identify yourself, you are required to tell the truth. It is a crime to lie to federal police agents and it is a crime to give false identification to police in many areas [ed- find a cite for this?].

The Supreme Court has said: “A brief stop of a suspicious individual, in order to determine his identity or to maintain the status quo momentarily while obtaining more information, may be most reasonable in light of the facts known to the officer at the time.” Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S. 143, 146 (1972).

If you want to avoid long and unpleasant interactions with police, do not give them any reasons to suspect you of criminal activity. Courteously decline to participate in ‘fishing expeditions’ or any other actions you do not wish to perform.

Police may search you ‘incident to arrest’: after or while arresting someone, police are allowed to search the body of the person being arrested. Recent decisions by the Supreme Court have also allowed the police to do exhaustive searches of any vehicle the arrestee was in and any containers therein. The Supreme Court held “that the police may examine the contents of any open or closed container found within the passenger compartment, ‘for if the passenger compartment is within the reach of the arrestee, so will containers in it be within his reach.'” 453 U.S., at 460 (footnote omitted). See also Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692, 702 (1981).

In Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106 (1977), the Supreme Court “held that police Officers may order persons out of [463 U.S. 1032, 1048] an automobile during a stop for a traffic violation, and may frisk those persons for weapons if there is a reasonable belief that they are armed and dangerous.”

WHAT A POLICEMAN CAN NOT MAKE YOU DO

  • Police are not allowed to frisk for anything except weapons. If, during a weapons pat, an officer discovers something ‘suspicious’ you don’t have to show it to them.Although the police have been given a lot of leeway to ‘check for weapons’, the Supreme Court has ruled (in the key decision Minnesota v Dickerson, 1993) that a weapons search may not be used as a pretext for a more general search. In Minnesota v Dickerson, a man was stopped coming out of a ‘notorious crack house’ and was patted down in a ‘Terry Stop’. The officer noticed something in the man’s pocket which he said ‘felt to be a lump of crack cocaine in cellophane’. He reached in the defendant’s pocket and found some crack-cocaine. The Supreme Court ruled that in order to determine whether the item was crack or not required a further, unwarranted search was necessary which was not acceptable by 4th Amendment standards.
  • Police are not allowed to search everyone (see Ybarra v. Illinois, 444 U.S. 85 (1979).In Ybarra v. Illinois, a man was patted down in a bar where the police were arresting a bar owner for selling heroin. An officer identified “a cigarette pack with objects in it” in the man’s pocket during the pat down and decided to search Ybarra. The High Court ruled that the officer overstepped his authority by searching everyone in the bar, even though they had a warrant to arrest the bartender and search the bar for evidence of drug sales.A common situation where police attempt to search many individuals without probable cause is a raided party. Sometimes police tell people to ’empty your pockets’ or they pat everyone down as they are leaving or they target a few people based on appearance for a full blown search. Most raids on parties are done without a judge-issued warrant and are based on noise complaints, city ordainances about event sizes, etc. In these cases, most searches will be citizens ‘voluntarily’ complying with requests except in the case of violence, extreme intoxication, or obvious criminal activity. Be polite and considerate of the difficult job the LEO’s have, but do not consent to any warrantless search and do not offer information to the police regarding any criminal activity they suspect you of.

HOW TO SAY NO

So, when a policeman says “Empty your pockets for me?” or “Why don’t you step over here for a moment?” What does a reasonable, law abiding citizen say if s/he doesn’t want to? Unfortunately there may be no simple answer to this. Because of the nature of most police-citizen interactions, tensions can be high and LEO’s may interpret any dissent as hostility or ‘suspicious behaviour’.

  1. Stay Calm. Speak calmly and slowly and don’t be surprised if the officer becomes irritated, angry, or belligerent. Move slowly.
  2. Ask Questions. One way to Say No is to ask questions in return: “Is that a request or an order?” “Am I under arrest?” “Am I free to go?” “Why do you want me to *whatever*?” “Am I a suspect in a crime?”
  3. Say No. Another way to Say No is to very clearly say no: “No, I would like to leave.” “No, I do not consent to any warrantless searches.” “You do not have my permission to search me / my car / my belongings.”
  4. Defuse Tensions. Do everything you can to defuse the tensions and seem peaceful. If an LEO thinks you might be dangerous, the courts have ruled that they have a greater authority to force you to comply.
  5. Do not Resist. Do not Argue with a Cop. Do not Touch a cop. Don’t Run. Don’t complain or threaten an officer legally.
  6. Comply when Required. Knowing when you are required to comply can be difficult (see What You Must Do and What You Don’t Have to Do ) The moment an LEO pulls a gun, do what they say. If they make you do something through force, your Constitutional Rights are not as important as staying healthy and alive. You can challenge the arrest in court if your rights are violated.
  7. Give the Cop a Break. Remember that police have a very difficult job to do and most cops are doing their best to try to keep their communities safe. When it comes to dealing with unusual or strange individuals or confronting drug issues, officers (and many people in the world) make some bad snap judgements. But most cops think of themselves as the Good Guys, so try to let em know you’re on their side.
  8. Ask for a Lawyer. As soon as its clear you will be arrested, ask for a lawyer and then keep quiet. Police will try to get you to talk. Don’t.

CAN SAYING NO GET ME IN MORE TROUBLE?

The short answer to this is, of course, yes and no. A lot is dependent on your rapport with the individual officer(s). Saying No to a police officer should be done gently to avoid enraging them so you don’t get beaten up. Saying No to a warrantless search may cause a police officer to harass you further to try to get you to comply. Saying No, however, is always the best idea when it gets to the point of arrest and prosecution. It is never in your interest to cooperate with the police in helping them collect evidence against you. If you do say No and a policeman searches anyway, evidence can sometimes be suppressed (thrown out). If you agree to a search, you have no grounds to dispute the evidence.

It is common to have an officer ‘ask’ forcefully first and if the suspect gives any indication of saying No, they threaten to arrest them and take them to the station. They say things like “if you don’t open your trunk/pocket/whatever for me, I can arrest you and we can open it up down at the station”. Often officers will imply that if the suspect cooperates, the cop will go easier on them. While it is true that a police officer controls whether you are arrested or not, very few police officers will overlook anything illegal they find in a search (including very small amounts of cannabis).

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