A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Law and Disorder’ tag

The Minneapolis Police Department’s Useless Body Cameras

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The City of Minneapolis spent $4 million to equip its law enforcers with body cameras. You might think that Minneapolis invested that money to hold its officers accountable but you would be wrong:

The Minneapolis Police Department is not tracking whether all officers are routinely activating body cameras and has not fully staffed the office tasked with reviewing body camera footage, despite the City Council’s directing it to do so last fall.

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Deputy Chief Henry Halvorson told the council last week that such a comprehensive report would be too labor-intensive. Someone has to check several databases and watch the video to decide whether each officer followed department policy, he said. Instead, Halvorson said, the police will analyze 2 percent of officers’ body camera usage for each quarterly audit starting in the second quarter.

Mr. Halvorson’s excuse is pathetic. There is no need to manually watch all of the footage collected by an officer’s body camera to know whether or not they used it. The camera should create a record every time it is turned on or off. If the records shows that an officer didn’t turn their body camera on or turned it off during their shift, inquiries should be made. The technical solution is dead simple and requires almost no additional manual labor.

But body cameras aren’t about holding law enforcers accountable. If that were the case, Bob Kroll and his police union buddies would stopped their adoption. What body cameras are about is collecting evidence that a law enforcer can use against you in court. Since nobody is reprimanding officers for failing to keep their body camera on, they can turn it off while they’re executing an unarmed black man then turn it back on when they’re arresting somebody for possession of pot.

Minneapolis’ body camera program demonstrates once again that any solution offered by a government body will only benefit that body.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 22nd, 2018 at 10:00 am

Another Day, Another Cop Escaping Punishment

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A couple of years ago there was some controversy in Minneapolis when a police officer responding to a brawl opened fire on a car full of innocent people. Fortunately, nobody was killed but one cannot let an entirely reckless act like that go without some amount of punishment, right? Apparently you can if the reckless shooter is a cop:

After a gray sedan collided with his Minneapolis police SUV amid the downtown chaos, officer Efrem Hamilton figured it was the same car used in an earlier shooting and went into defense mode.

What he didn’t realize was that the carful of late-night partyers was trying to get away from the scene he was racing toward. The BMW’s 23-year-old driver testified in court that she never even saw the officer’s flashing lights.

But because Hamilton, 43, was reacting to a perceived threat in the moment, a Hennepin County jury on Tuesday cleared him of any wrongdoing for firing the single shot at the vehicle during the melee two years ago.

Imagine if a citizen without a badge had done the same thing. They almost certainly would have had a list of charges brought against them including a charge for unlawfully discharging a firearm within city limits.

According to the founding mythology of the United States, everybody is supposed to be equal under the law. However, agents of the government tend to be more equal than others. Laws that apply to us nongovernmental individuals often don’t apply to them. Spending a few moments pondering this state of affairs will probably lead one to the realization that this environment attracts the power hungry. If I want the hold power over others without suffering consequences, I will seek a position that grants me power over others and doesn’t hold me accountable.

People often ask how modern law enforcement got to the point its at. I’m not entirely sure but I think the lack of accountability has played a significant role since it likely attracted power hungry individuals. While the officer in question in the story may not have been a power hungry individual, the fact that he avoided punishment for something most nongovernmental individuals would be punished for sets another precedence for law enforcers being above the law.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 21st, 2018 at 11:00 am

Laws Are Irrelevant

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When you allow yourself to succumb to magical thinking, such as believing that society is a thing in of itself, you leave yourself vulnerable to other magical thoughts such as believing that laws are what establish safety and stability.

Whenever an act of violence makes it to the front pages of news sites, a lot of people start demanding laws be passed to protect people. When I see such demands being made in comment sections on the websites I frequent, I like to point out that laws are just words on pieces of paper and have no power to protect anybody. The believers in law then point out, as if I was unaware, that my argument should apply to all laws. They mistakenly believe that I’m only talking about whatever law they’re proposing but their rebuttal is correct, as I point out, I am talking about all laws. After that the believers in law tend to have a psychological breakdown and start screaming about how laws are what makes society possible.

Laws are not what make society possible. First of all, society isn’t an actual thing, it’s an abstraction that lives entirely in our imaginations. What most people commonly refer to as society is actually a complex collection of human interactions. And therein lies the truth of the matter. Laws aren’t what make those interactions possible. The will of the individuals is. The reason these complex collections of human interactions don’t regularly devolve into mass murder is because the individuals will it not to. It is you and your neighbor deciding not to kill each other that prevents either from being murdered at the hands of the other.

The impotency of laws is demonstrated every time a murder is committed. Murder has been declared illegal in pretty much every nation on Earth. But words on pieces of paper can’t interfere with an individual’s will. If an individual wills an act of murder, a murder will be attempted. I say attempted because realizing on a subconscious level that the law is incapable of protecting them the intended murder victim will likely attempt to defend themselves. Again, the law doesn’t offer them protection, their will to act does.

Even if every law were repealed tomorrow, people would still choose to act against those who act against them or others. That is what establishes safety and stability.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 20th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Investigating Potential Mass Murderers Isn’t Profitable

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One of the thing we learned about the shooter in Florida is that he was brought to the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ (FBI) attention but the agency did nothing:

The F.B.I. received a tip last month from someone close to Nikolas Cruz that he owned a gun and had talked of committing a school shooting, the bureau revealed Friday, but it acknowledged that it had failed to investigate.

The tipster, who called an F.B.I. hotline on Jan. 5, told the bureau that Mr. Cruz had a “desire to kill people, erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts,” the F.B.I. said.

The information should have been assessed and forwarded to the Miami F.B.I. field office, the bureau said. But that never happened. On Wednesday, Mr. Cruz, 19, killed 17 students and teachers at his former high school in Parkland, Fla., law enforcement officials said.

Several theories to explain the FBI’s lack of followup have been put forward. Most of the theories, in my opinion, give the FBI too much credit by either coloring the agency as a bumbling fool or the perpetrator of a sinister conspiracy. I’m guessing the FBI’s failure to followup was about money. Murder isn’t a crime that allows an agency to rake in cash through civil forfeiture. If somebody had called in a tip claiming that the shooter was in possession of a great deal of heroine, the FBI would have probably been kicking the guys door in at oh dark thirty and executed any pets in the household. Why? Because drug crimes are profitable to enforce since they allow an agency to seize property without even having to prove the suspect guilty in court.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 20th, 2018 at 10:30 am

The States has Decided to Keep Its Political Prisoner

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Anybody who paid attention to the trial of Ross Ulbricht knows that he was railroaded. The judge ruled his defense inadmissible. Then when several officers involved with hunting down Ulbricht were found to have been corrupt, thus bringing the validity of any claims they made during the trial into question, but new trial was called. Ulbricht’s lawyer has continued to push for a new trial despite these setbacks. Unfortunately, it looks like the State will keep its political prisoner:

The federal judge overseeing the trial of Ross Ulbricht, the man convicted of creating the underground Silk Road drug website, has denied the Ulbricht legal team’s attempt to extend the normal three-year window for “post-conviction relief.” In essence, the move stifles Ulbricht’s new attorney’s extraordinary effort to re-open the case with new exculpatory evidence, on the off-chance that it exists.

Don’t forget that all of this was done because of a fucking website. Ulbricht was never charged with manufacturing, selling, or distributing any illegal substances. The only thing he was guilty of was running a website. But the State needed to make an example out of somebody and Ulbricht was the person it could get.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 20th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Jeff Sessions Is a Saturday Morning Cartoon Villain

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What should you do if you suffer from chronic pain? According to Jess Sessions, you should just toughen the fuck up:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week said that the solution for many people who suffer from chronic pain should be to “take aspirin and tough it out.”

Jeff Sessions reminds me of a villain from an old Saturday morning cartoon. If you remember such shows, the villains are often pure evil. Since they have no redeeming characteristics, the concept of moral grey area can be safely avoided by the show runners.

Jeff Sessions has no redeeming characteristics. He seems to be evil just for the sake of being evil. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wipes his ass with a puppy after taking a dump just because doing so would be evil. On the upside, since he reflects a Saturday morning cartoon villain, there’s a good chance that his evil schemes will be continuously thwarted by a group of mutated turtles with martial arts skills or giant robots that can transform into trucks.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 13th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Just More Heroes Doing Hero Things

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For the life of me I can’t figure out why our heroes in blue have such a dismal reputation:

BALTIMORE — The officers’ job during some of the bloodiest years in Baltimore was to get guns off the streets.

Instead, they plundered money, jewelry, drugs and weapons and gouged the cash-strapped city for overtime and hours they never worked, according to their own admissions and testimony in ongoing criminal cases.

Over the past four years, some members of the Gun Trace Task Force stole more than $300,000, at least three kilos of cocaine, 43 pounds of marijuana, 800 grams of heroin and hundreds of thousands of dollars in watches from suspected drug dealers and civilians, according to officers’ plea agreements and statements in federal court.

They admit to putting illegal trackers on the cars of suspected dealers so they could rob their homes and sell off any drugs and guns they found.

This sounds an awful lot like the Minneapolis Gang Strike Force. In both cases officers were assigned to specific duties and used their newfound positions of authority to rob people left and right. Moreover, it appears as though the Baltimore Gun Trace Task Force followed in the footsteps of the Minneapolis Gang Strike Force in that it committed so many crimes that they could no longer be effectively swept under the rug.

I’m sure Minneapolis and Baltimore aren’t unique. After all, what else could be expected of a group of officers given tremendous powers, in addition to the tremendous powers they already have, and almost no oversight? Such an environment is custom made for corrupt behavior.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 9th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Pretending to Do Something

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There is never a shortage of government busybodies when something has to be done and people have been demanding that something be done in response to the Las Vegas shooting. So the law enforcers in Mesa, Arizona have answered those demands by arresting and charing an individual show the shooter purchased ammunition from:

U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- Authorities have charged Douglas Haig, 55, of Mesa Arizona with selling “armor-piercing ammunition” to Las Vegas killer Stephen Paddock according to court documents acquired by the Associated Press. Haig works full time as an aerospace engineer and part-time as a manufacturer of reloaded ammunition.

This would be like arresting the head of Ford in response to somebody using an F-150 to run down a group of people. Haig made a product and sold it. After that he ceased to have control over it and therefore ceased to be responsible for it. But that doesn’t matter because the government wants to show the world that it’s doing something in response to the shooting.

The lack of Haig’s involvement with the crime doesn’t matter as illustrated by the charges against him. He’s not be charged with anything relating to the shooting. Instead he’s being charged with violating an unrelated regulation against manufacturing “armor piercing” ammunition (which, itself, is a nonsensical legal definition) without a license. Since none of the Las Vegas shooter’s victims were wearing body armor, the ability for the ammunition he used to penetrate body armor is irrelevant (and that’s not what the legal definition of “armor piecing” is even based on). But the arrest gives the law enforcers something to show the public and that’s all that matters.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 8th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Just Another Hero Doing Hero Things

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A Tennessee hero has made headlines for ordering a hero under his command to heroically execute an unarmed man:

A sheriff in rural Tennessee was inadvertently caught on police body cam footage ordering deputies to shoot an unarmed man engaged in a slow speed chase, NewsChannel 5/WTVF reported.

The body cam revealed Sheriff Oddie Shoupe’s conversation with a deputy after the fatal shooting of Michael Dial, who was struck in the head after refusing to pull over his 1976 pickup truck when officers attempted to pull him over for driving with a suspended license.

Of course this situation was tragic and the brave sheriff wishes it could have gone differently…

“If they don’t think I’ll give the d*mn order to kill that motherf*cker they’re full of sh*t,” Sheriff Shoupe added. “I love this sh*t. God I tell you what, I thrive on it.”

Or not.

I have my doubts that Sheriff Shoupe’s attitude is unique. I would actually bet money on the fact that a lot of people who share his attitude are drawn to law enforcement because it allows them to act on their urges without concerns for consequences. Granted, because this was actually caught on video the sheriff may end up having to step down. However, I doubt that he or the officer who was “just following orders” will face the criminal charges they so deserve.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 8th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Quick! While National Attention is Elsewhere!

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The Super Bowl has left Minneapolis. Its departure was joined by a fleet of private jets and the nation’s interest in this part of flyover country. Now that the nation’s attention is elsewhere, Minnesota officials can move onto other pressing matters such as ensuring a grand jury doesn’t see fit to charge Office Noor for the death of Justine Ruszczyk:

If he pursues manslaughter charges under Minnesota law, it would require him to prove that Noor’s actions the night he shot and killed Ruszczyk Damond were, in legal terms, “culpably negligent.” And to prove that, Freeman needs to prove that Noor’s actions were, again in legal terms, “objectively unreasonable.”

And that’s a high bar for him to clear, said former Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner.

“The law does not require that an officer’s decision was the best one, it just requires that it was a reasonable one,” Gaertner said. “Officers are given a great deal of latitude under the law to respond to danger that they perceive is present.”

I think the story really would benefit from a footnote noting that in order to prove the charges against Noor, Freeman has to actually want to see Noor charged. Seeing as Freeman went so far as to break his pledge to no longer use grand juries to determine whether officers will be charged, I would argue that this is cause to believe that Freeman doesn’t want to see Noor charged.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 7th, 2018 at 10:30 am