A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Law and Disorder’ tag

The Chicago Police Department’s Watch List

without comments

The Chicago Police Department (CPD), like seemingly every other government agency, has a watch list. And like every other government agency’s watch list, CPD’s contains names that don’t fit into its described scope:

Yet the list is far broader and more extensive than Johnson and other police officials have suggested. It includes more than 398,000 entries — encompassing everyone who has been arrested and fingerprinted in Chicago since 2013.

Nearly half of the people at the top of the list have never been arrested for illegal gun possession. About 13 percent have never been charged with any violent crime. And 20 of the 153 people deemed most at risk to be involved in violent crime, as victim or shooter, have never been arrested either for guns or violence.

[…]

The police concluded the people who hadn’t been arrested for guns or violence were at great risk to commit a violent crime or become the victim of one — and, as a result, should be watched closely — because they:

  • Had been shot or assaulted.
  • Had been identified by the police as a gang member.
  • Or recently were arrested for any crime, even a nonviolent offense.

Watch lists are always advertised by government agencies as having names of suspected criminals. However, they always end up containing names of people that don’t fit the advertised criteria. This is why those of us who aren’t a bunch of statist bootlickers are so touchy about punishing people for having the misfortune of being placed on a government watch list.

If, for example, CPD’s Strategic Subject List was used to prohibit gun ownership (something gun control advocates want done for people appearing on federal terrorist watch lists), people would find their gun ownership privileges revoked because they were the victim of an assault.

State Representative was Taxed, Didn’t Enjoy the Experience

without comments

Last week a Minnesota state representative got a taste of his own medicine didn’t seem to care for the taste all that much:

Police are investigating after a state representative reported being robbed at gunpoint on a St. Paul street Thursday night.

Rep. Dennis Smith, R-Maple Grove, was not injured in the robbery at Grand Avenue and Milton Street, police said.

“A gentleman approached me and he had a gun out, asked for my wallet and my phone and I agreed. And I was able to walk away safely,” Smith said Friday morning.

So Mr. Smith was taxed.

Honestly, I can’t bring myself to have many ill feelings towards the mugger. Whether intentionally or accidentally, the mugger found the one person who deserves to be mugged, another person who professionally mugs people. It’s kind of like inter-gang warfare. If gangs keep their violence to themselves I don’t care all that much.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 24th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Posted in Politics

Tagged with , ,

Altering the Deal

without comments

A judge in Georgia disagreed with a jury’s verdict and decided to punish the suspect in spite of the fact that he was found not guilty:

A black man who was found not guilty of armed robbery will still serve up to seven years behind bars after a judge ruled he had breached the rules of his probation sentence for another crime.

[…]

The 24-year-old was already was serving a five year probation term (a court order served outside prison through fines and community service) for his first ever offence, breaking and entering an apartment to steal a television worth $120 (£92) in 2012.

[…]

The following February, a judge decided it was likely he did commit the robbery and as a result Chatman was re-sentenced for the original crime of stealing a TV and ordered to serve 10-years behind bars, back dated to the day of the crime.

This is a major problem with a monopolistic justice system. The judge is obviously untrustworthy. He decided that he didn’t like the verdict of a jury so he decided to renege on a previous deal made between the courts and the suspect. But even with this information in hand it’s not possible for people in the judge’s jurisdiction to choose to not do business with him. The best they can hope for is that there are multiple judges in that jurisdiction so they have a chance of getting one who is more upstanding.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 23rd, 2017 at 10:00 am

Streamlining Extortion

without comments

Minnesota may be second only to California when it comes to socialism in the United States. One of the tenants of socialism is government providing goods and services to the people. In order to do this the government must have wealth. Since government produce nothing of value it cannot raise the wealth it needs through voluntary transactions and therefore relies entirely on extortion. This extortion is commonly perpetrated by the police. Traffic citations, parking citations, and other petty forms of extortion are examples of this. But every office knows that there are bigger money makers. In fact, petty forms of extortion such as traffic and parking citations are often used as justifications for initiating an interaction that may ultimately produce a more lucrative violation.

One of the roadblocks between an officer pulling over a motorist for, say, speeding and searching their vehicle for lucrative contraband is the requirement that a warrant be acquired before a search of a vehicle can be performed. In its lust for extorted wealth Minnesota is streamlining that pesky warrant process:

The road to a search warrant has sometimes been a long and winding one for Minnesota law enforcement officers, especially those working a late-night shift. But now there’s an express lane known as the eSearch Warrant, that public safety officials say will make a big difference in DWI prosecutions.

A legal process that used to be done on paper and required a face-to-face meeting between an officer and a judge is now being done electronically. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said Monday the transition to sSearch Warrants started in October and is now finished statewide.

“Before eSearch Warrants, a peace officer would write a search warrant application and then drive it to the judge for review,” said BCA Superintendent Drew Evans.

Of course it was justified using drunk drivers. Everybody hates drunk drivers so they’re more than happy to roll over whenever the police expand their power for the purpose of catching drunk drivers. I very much doubt that this streamlined process was aimed at nabbing drunk drivers though. The lower barrier to entry is likely meant to be used to allow officers to perform more vehicle searches in the hopes of finding more drugs, weapons, and other lucrative contraband.

Unfortunately, many people will be fine with this because they don’t realize that every single expansion of government power, no matter how trivial, comes at the expense of the rights and privileges of the people.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 19th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Chelsea Manning Finally Released

without comments

After spending seven year in a cage for the crime of doing the right thing, Chelsea Manning has finally been released:

US soldier Chelsea Manning has been released from prison after serving seven years for leaking hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and military files to Wikileaks.

A US Army spokesperson confirmed to the BBC that she had left Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas.

Most of what remained of her 35-year sentence was commuted by then-US President Barack Obama in January.

Unfortunately, she’ll never get those seven years back nor will she receive compensation for being wrongfully imprisoned.

I know, a lot of people will have issues with my statement that she was wrongfully imprisoned. After all, she broke the law and was found guilty. But remember that I’m one of those weird people who believes a crime only exists if there is a victim. Chelsea Manning’s actions didn’t create any victims. In fact, she provided evidence of actual crimes being committed. Her actions deserved commendations, not punishment. And she is justly owned compensation for being punished even though she didn’t commit an actual crime.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 17th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Karma

without comments

I can’t prove whether or not karma is a real thing but I certainly like to think it is. I especially like to believe in karma when somebody falls prey to the very policies they promote:

In 1918, while a deputy chief of the Cheka in Ukraine, he [Martin Latsis] established the principle that sentences were to be determined not by guilt or innocence but by social class. He is quoted as explaining the Red Terror as follows:

Do not look in materials you have gathered for evidence that a suspect acted or spoke against the Soviet authorities. The first question you should ask him is what class he belongs to, what is his origin, education, profession. These questions should determine his fate. This is the essence of the Red Terror.

Latsis himself became a victim of the Soviet regime in the 1930s Great Purge, when he was arrested on November 29, 1937 and was accused by a commission of NKVD and Prosecutor of the USSR belonging to a “counter-revolutionary, nationalist organization”. He was executed in 1938 by firing squad.

A lot of people either knowingly or unknowingly advocate for a guilty until proven innocent justice system for certain crimes. Socialists of various flavors often promote such a system when an accused individual is a member of a class they aren’t fond of. The problem with such a system is that it gets abused pretty quickly. An individual having a feud with their neighbor might inform the police that their neighbor is a member of a persecuted class. People in power are quickly to label anybody they don’t like as members of a persecuted class. Since class membership becomes the important factor, not the facts of the case, the system quickly becomes a convenient mechanism for one to eliminate their enemies instead of a system for delivering justice.

It warms to heart to know that somebody like Martin Latsis, who promoted a system that issued judgements based on class membership instead of guilt of a crime, fell victim to that very system.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 17th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Hiding Public Records in the Private Sector

without comments

Axon, the company formerly known as Taser, announced that it would give free body cameras and one year of online video storage to any department in the United States for one year. This seems like a phenomenal deal but there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. The deal is meant to make Axon money and to please its biggest customers, the police:

But isn’t just video. Police agencies and local governments are using Evidence.com to store other evidence, too. Defense attorney Rick Horowitz recently put up a post about how in order to access discovery in a case, the district attorney told him to log on to the website. And in order to log on, Horowitz had to sign this user agreement:

You consent to Axon’s access and use of the Account Content in order to….improve Axon’s Products and Services. In addition, for content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (“IP Content”), you specifically give us the following permission: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, irrevocable, royalty-free, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use any IP Content that you post on or in connection with the Services (IP License).

[…]

Second, this isn’t just any public record. We’re talking about evidence in criminal investigations. To have that evidence stored on servers owned by a private company creates some bad incentives. The company’s primary client isn’t the public; it’s the police agency. And it’s primary interest isn’t just outcomes in courtrooms; it’s keeping the client happy. For example, the company might win favor with police agencies — for example, allowing officers to take certain liberties with body camera video in a way that keeps the courts or opposing attorneys in the dark.

Body cameras were sold as a tool for police accountability but it has become clear that they were meant to collect evidence that the State can use to prosecute more individuals. Axon’s primary customer is the State and therefore it is incentivized to help the State use body cameras to collect evidence against individuals while not allowing the footage to be used to hold police accountable.

People often wonder why the State empowered corporations so much. At one point I thought it was primarily a protection racket, the State offers corporations extra legal privileges in exchange for money. But now I’m starting to think that the primary purpose was so the State could conceal its dirty laundry from the public by hiding behind the shield of the private sector. Remember, the State has given you permission to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request against it but not against a private entity. So long as it can give a corporation the job of hiding information the State can rightfully say that it has no information pertaining to your FOIA request.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 16th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Coincidences Everywhere

without comments

In 2013 it was revealed that the New York Police Department (NYPD) has a propensity to stop and frisk minorities. How much of a propensity? In one precinct 98 percent of the people stopped and harassed by the police were minorities. I’m sure that was just a coincidence just like I’m sure that this is also just a coincidence:

Black and Hispanic kids accounted for 99% of all public school students handcuffed by NYPD school safety agents in crisis incidents in 2016, data published Monday shows.

A “child in crisis” incident is one where a student displaying signs of emotional distress is removed from the classroom and taken to a hospital for a psychological evaluation.

In 2016, there were 262 child in crisis incidents where handcuffs were used, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union, which first reported the data — and all but three of those incidents, or 259, involved black or Latino children.

When I said that this was a coincidence I was being sarcastic but I know a lot of “tough on crime” people who would say that sincerely.

Racism is a collectivist idea and therefore incompatible with individualism (which is not to say that an individual can’t be racist, they certainly can, but by being racist they are necessarily being a collectivist) so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the State, the greatest form of anti-individualist organization on Earth, has such a strong tendency to institutionalize racism. Even when it goes so far as to create laws against racism, the State manages to institutionalize racism in its actions.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 16th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Rise of the Machines

without comments

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the hottest topics in technology at the moment. If you listen to the people developing AIs, you will likely start to believe that they will solve all of the world’s problems. If you listen to the critics of AI, you will likely start to believe that they are the catalyst that will lead to a Terminator future.

AI probably won’t solve all of our problems but it probably won’t wipe our species out either. However, it is undeniable that algorithms are shaping our lives more and more. This isn’t a problem when those algorithms offer suggestions on what to read based on what you’re currently reading or what to buy based on what you’re currently buying. It is a problem when they decide whether or not you will be kept in a cage or not:

Police in Durham are preparing to go live with an artificial intelligence (AI) system designed to help officers decide whether or not a suspect should be kept in custody.

The system classifies suspects at a low, medium or high risk of offending and has been tested by the force.

It has been trained on five years’ of offending histories data.

The story cites the claimed accuracy rate of the AI as if a high accuracy rate should be enough for everybody to implicitly trust the system. But the system is proprietary so it’s impossible for outside parties to verify the claims of accuracy or to know how the system decides who should be kept in a cage. It’s also a black box. Can an officer override the system? If they can, does that override get included in the AI’s data that will color its future decisions? There are hundreds of questions one can ask but cannot answer about the system.

The problem with relying on AIs to make decisions about law and order is that the judicial system, at least in most so-called developed nations, is supposed to be transparent (although it usually isn’t). Proprietary systems aren’t transparent by definition, which makes them easier for the State to abuse.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 12th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Constitutional Crisis

without comments

It’s been fun watching Democrats who were calling for Comey’s head just a few days ago suddenly loving the man. Keith Ellison went so far as to call Trump’s firing of Comey a Constitutional crisis:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minneapolis, released the following statement after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey: “We are witnessing a Constitutional crisis unfold before our very eyes. On March 20, FBI Director James Comey confirmed under oath that the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign for its involvement with Russian officials to influence our election. Today, President Trump fired him”

But it’s not a Constitutional crisis. Not by a long shot.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is a department of the Executive Branch. As president, Donald Trump is the current head of the Executive Branch. As head of the Executive Branch, Trump has the power to appoint and dismiss heads of departments of the Executive Branch. Dismissing Comey was well within Trump’s constitutionally granted powers.

In the distance I can hear a Democrat whose views on Comey flipped very recently shouting, “But, Chris, Comey was investigating Trump’s ties to Russia! This is obviously a coverup!” To that I will point out that the FBI shouldn’t have been put in charge of that investigation. No department of the Executive Branch should have been for reasons that are probably quite obvious now.

If corruption is suspected in the Executive Branch it falls onto the Legislative and Judicial branches to perform an investigation and take appropriate action. Remember back in civics class when your teacher explained how the three branches of government work as a system of checks and balances? This is what they meant.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 11th, 2017 at 11:00 am